D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton joined The Politics Hour to talk about statehood and the passing of Rep. John Lewis.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at a rally in February 2017. Norton recently introduced legislation to remove the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park. (Lori Shaull / Flickr)

What’s Next For D.C. Statehood

  • The push for D.C. statehood is nothing new to D.C. residents or Congresswoman Norton, but the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests have fanned the flames of the movement.
  • The District received half as much funding as the states in the first recovery bill. And the cause gained a few more supporters in the U.S. Senate after federal troops were sent to quell protests in D.C. Forty senators support the statehood bill.
  • But what’s next? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called statehood “full-bore socialism.” Norton thinks statehood will only pass the Senate if Democrats have the majority.

Remembering John Lewis

  • Many hearts have been heavy since the passing of civil rights icon and longtime Congressman John Lewis.
  • One of Lewis’ contributions to the District is the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The bill for the museum’s creation was one of the first he sponsored when he came to congress.
  • Congresswoman Norton remembered her colleague on today’s show not just for their time in Congress, but when they were both involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. “He became the chair of SNCC not because he was the smartest or the most popular, but because he was simply the bravest,” Norton said.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan is the vice chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee in the Maryland Senate. (Clay Blackmore)

Maryland residents will have to apply for an absentee ballot or vote in person for the election this fall. Some lawmakers, like Maryland Sen. Cheryl Kagan, aren’t happy with that plan. She joined The Politics Hour.

Maryland Officials Respond To Fall Election Plan

  • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan decided that November elections will be in-person, with absentee ballot applications provided to eligible voters.
  • Some officials aren’t happy with this plan, including Kagan.
  • “His election proposal is absurd and is clearly taking talking points from the White House,” Kagan said on The Politics Hour.
  • Some lawmakers and activists want ballots sent to each eligible voter without an application. They fear the return to regular, in-person voting could lead to voter suppression.
  • And Maryland (along with D.C.) is facing a shortage of poll workers for the November election.Some jurisdictions are asking the governor to allow them to consolidate the number of polling places or open early voting sites.
  • Maryland’s primary election was held mostly by mail. Delays caused 1 million registered voters to receive their ballots late or not at all.

Who’s In Charge Of Montgomery Schools Reopening?

  • There’s been a scuffle between Montgomery County officials and Hogan over whether private schools should be allowed to reopen.
  • After Montgomery County officials announced that nonpublic schools would remain closed until October, Hogan issued a new order stripping local governments of their authority to prohibit private schools from reopening to in-person learning.
  • But now, Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles is doubling-down, saying that private schools in the county must remain closed to in-person instruction until October 1. His order cites a Maryland law that says “when a county health officer has reason to believe that a disease endangers public health,” the officer can “act properly to prevent the spread of the disease.”
  • Kagan said that Hogan’s order to allow private schools to reopen is an example of “pandering to the right wing of the party. I wish Governor Hogan were spending less time on his book tour and looking at running for president and getting involved in local government decisions about school openings, and more time running the state.” 
  • On Friday, Gayles rescinded his orders that called for online learning to avert a court battle with the state. He still strongly advises against in-person learning.

Will Maryland Lawmakers Convene For A Special Session?

  • Del. Julian Ivey of Prince George’s County has been calling for a special session since June to address police brutality. So far, he hasn’t generated much support from his colleagues in the general assembly.
  • Advocate groups are also calling for a special session to address concerns around housing, workplace safety during the pandemic, ballot access and police reform.
  • Hogan would be constitutionally required to convene a special session if petitioned by the majority of lawmakers in the House of Delegates and the state Senate.
  • Kagan doesn’t think a special session would help lawmakers move forward on any issues: “Even if we were to meet next week safely …. even if we had legislation drafted and passed it, the governor would be likely to veto it.”

Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we’re at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Produced by Cydney Grannan