I'd like you to sit down with Roger and get to know him, but until that happens, let me explain why I support Roger Manno. Roger is painfully modest for a politician, reluctant to call attention to himself or brag about his accomplishments, so it falls on those of us who've worked with him to share these important facts. I worked with Roger on healthcare, budget / revenues / pension issues, organic agriculture, and other topics. He's one of the best we have.
From the first day he stepped into the Maryland General Assembly, Roger demonstrated a commitment to leadership through teamwork, founded on principle. His allies and adversaries attest to his impeccable integrity. Roger has done an amazing job for the people in Maryland, Montgomery County, and District 19. He will serve residents of the sixth district in Congress every bit as effectively.
Roger’s open and inclusive manner ensures that his colleagues trust and respect him. Most importantly, environmental, labor, health reform and other organizations seek him out to champion our issues. He exemplifies the adage, "It's surprising how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit." Some in Annapolis "grab" bills—rush to get their name on legislation others worked for. Roger is the opposite. He's happy to hand off “his” bills to others, because he'd rather get the job done than get the accolades.
Roger's signature issue is healthcare. It's personal for Roger. He lost his father to treatable illness, and he nearly died as a child due to congenital heart defect. If a kind and generous pediatric cardiologist hadn't treated him for free, he probably wouldn't be here. As a Congressional Staffer, Roger helped then-Chairman John Conyers build the movement that brought us historic healthcare reform.
Roger understands the priceless debt we owe our progressive forefathers and foremothers, and respectfully works with more senior legislators. He credits their courage and builds on their historic achievements. He will bring that respect, sense of duty, and effectiveness to the Congress. I know, because I've watched him bring together winning coalitions in Annapolis.
Roger Manno gets things done that make a real difference for people in Maryland. He worked with Governor O'Malley on legislation which led to several $millions in concessions from Care First—money the State used to help Medicare patients caught in the "donut hole." Roger developed creative solutions and brought together a team to deliver results that ensured people in Maryland would get the medicine and coverage they needed.
Insurance companies sought to unfairly deny us access to long term health insurance based on our DNA information. Many of us have genetic "markers" for one or more diseases, but fortunately will never suffer from the indicated illness. To protect us, Roger and Sen. Jenny Forehand sponsored a landmark law that prevents misuse of genetic information. Progressive and medical groups, scientific experts, African American groups (concerned the genetic marker for Sickle Cell would prevent healthy people from getting long term care), and Jewish groups (worried that the genetic marker for Tay-Sachs would do the same) joined together to work on this.
The insurance companies fought us with their top national lobbyists and in-house scientists, but we matched their efforts and experts with our own. In the end, we passed a model law, one of the first of its kind in the nation. Together, we struck a blow against discrimination in healthcare. Thanks to Roger and Jenny, we prevailed and enjoy protections that could mean the difference between getting long term care or getting denied needed care based on our DNA.
Later, while working on the White House state legislators group, Roger advocated for key provisions against healthcare discrimination and pushed to make the federal health reform legislation as far-reaching and effective as possible. Some of that advocacy is in the President's new health care law. Roger is committed to keep working until we all have access to high quality healthcare with no financial or other barriers—through a national expanded and improved Medicare for All system.
Members of the General Assembly welcome Roger's input and support on many issues. On other issues Roger stood alone, but raised issues other legislators were reluctant to touch. During the 2010 session, Roger proposed closing corporate tax loopholes used by the largest retail chains and out-of-state corporations and extending the tax on those enjoying $million per year incomes, and dedicating those revenues to shoring up state pension obligations. Maryland was facing a $19 billion (not million, billion) deficit in our pensions obligations. For comparison, Maryland's operating budget deficit was about $2 billion at that time—barely one tenth of the pensions deficit.
The Speaker of the House of Delegates Mike Busch told activists he admired Roger's courage and creativity linking "combined reporting" and the tax on the very highest incomes to solve the pension crisis. He called it the only real solution he'd seen on the issue. Others in Annapolis pushed a plan to dump substantial parts of the pensions obligation onto the counties. This would not solve the problem. It would just shift costs and risk sharp local property tax increases, service cuts, lay-offs, and / or increased classroom sizes in our schools. This because many counties are already facing huge deficits.
In the State House of Delegates and the State Senate, Roger earned a reputation for sound fiscal solutions and courageous leadership. Roger's proposal was the only real solution to the pensions crisis, and his progressive revenues proposal (that passed the State Senate) would have helped create jobs, balance the state budget, and allowed for greater investments in education, transportation, and more while also providing tax cuts for all Marylanders. Unfortunately the proposal failed in the House, and the state adopted a dozen or more fee and tax increases—without help for Marylanders. These bad policy choices directly led to Governor Hogan’s election.
Roger has been a powerful advocate for working families in Maryland. If we work for him, he will continue that leadership in the Congress. His "shift breaks" bill became law after four years of struggle, and after some labor leaders wrote it off as a lost cause. This law makes sure workers get 15 minute breaks for each four hour shift they work. This reform increased safety and productivity by preventing exhaustion and accidents on the job. Savings from avoided injuries help our economy and the new regulations help protect life and limb. This is a hard-won, common-sense solution to a persistent problem, once again Roger Manno’s leadership benefited all Marylanders—those of us working shifts and those of us who rely on their labor alike.
Roger is a team player who understands that we must either work and succeed together, or else we'll all fall behind. He's an activist, far more concerned with results than awards or accolades. His word is his bond. People in Annapolis know this, and that helped mak Roger so effective at passing bills and making progress on the truly difficult challenges we face.
Critically needed global warming legislation had been languishing because unions feared job losses and environmentalists weren't able to muster the needed votes without labor support. Because environmental groups and unions trusted Roger, he was able to work with them and several colleagues to forge a winning coalition and help get the job done. Maryland joined California and a few other states jumping ahead of federal action on green house gas emissions. Then, Roger followed up that success by working with colleagues and a huge coalition of environmentalists to ban fracking in our state.
Some legislators vote on an issue once, pat themselves on the back, and consider it a job well done. Not Roger. As I've tried to emphasize, he's made real hard-won progress on issue after issue, and then built on progress. That includes reforms and protections for health care, labor, the environment, and more.
Only Roger and about 5 other legislators in all of Maryland have a perfect 100% lifetime rating on environmental issues. This because Roger never gives up. When an important renewable energy portfolio bill deadlocked in the House of Delegates some years ago, Roger met with House leadership and the Governor's office to find a solution—an executive order to force reluctant regulators into action by implementing Maryland's renewable energy plan (passed in a previous session, but without an enforcement mechanism). This solution was based on the bill Roger sponsored, and several drafts of the executive order authored by Roger and his staff. With our help, Roger will bring this unwavering integrity, creativity, leadership, and teamwork to the Congress. We need more Representatives who serve the greater public interest—not the special interests—in Congress.
Roger consistently shows his personal courage and commitment to principle. He helped lead efforts to require "crisis pregnancy centers"—usually quasi-religious, anti-choice operations—to disclose that they don't really offer medical services. For this, he’s earned the highest possible rating from NARAL Pro-Choice. When his bill failed in Annapolis, Roger shifted gears to make progress closer to home. His testimony and cooperation with local activists and leaders helped the Montgomery County Council pass a similar local law to protect the health of pregnant women and to ensure they’re not deceived by charlatans pretending to be medical clinics. For his trouble, he needed police protection due to death threats and other hostility from opponents to this legislation.
A lot of legislators pass a lot of bills in Annapolis that don't make much real difference to people in the state. Some legislators cosponsor bills, but then work behind the scenes to kill them. That's business as usual, but it's something we shouldn't put up with. Roger agrees we should demand better. He met with activists working to bring greater transparency and access to Annapolis, and to help end that “business as usual.” On all of these issues and many others, Roger wasn't just making promises or seeking headlines and awards. He was one of the real leaders. With your help, he’ll bring that commitment to Capitol Hill.
I could list dozens of other bills Roger sponsored, but I'm just focusing on a few of the important efforts which made a real difference. It all boils down to this: Roger is one of us. He gets it, and he gets the job done. Whether or not you live in the 6th Congressional District, we need your time and financial help to win this critically important primary contest.
We need Roger Manno in Congress. Please join me in offering him your time and support.
Maryland State Coordinator, Progressive Democrats of America