Maryland PIRG's 2021 State Legislative Agenda

Our job is to make sure that any decisions that get made during this remote legislative session are made in the public’s best interest.  

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Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Recently, Emily helped win small donor public financing in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City; the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses; and, the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms. Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working, and the Maryland Tobacco Free Kids Coalition. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.

We advocate for the public interest in Annapolis This year there are hundreds of policies being discussed which could safeguard public health, protect consumers in the marketplace, transform our energy and transportation systems, remove toxic threats, stop wasteful spending, revitalize our democracy, and protect Maryland’s environment. Our job is to make sure that any decisions that get made during this remote legislative session are made in the public’s best interest.  

As they legislate mostly remotely due to COVID-19, the General Assembly is entering uncharted territory, and its leaders are working hard to keep elected officials, staff and the public safe while conducting the people’s business in Annapolis. During the remote legislative sessions - and always - it’s vital that when the bills and policies that could impact our common interests are being debated, those discussions aren’t conducted behind closed doors, or without citizen involvement. We know our leaders will be hearing from powerful interests, and their lobbyists, won’t be afraid to try and use their access and influence to push for decisions which benefit their narrow agenda, instead of what is best for the people of Maryland. That’s where we come in.

Maryland PIRG’s advocates closely monitor the public interest policies being debated in Annapolis. We propose and analyze legislation, provide independent research, and expert testimony so that our leaders can make informed decisions. Our staff watchdog how our elected officials are leaning and what political calculations they are making. And we make sure that our leaders hear from the public, by bringing the voices of our members and Maryland residents into the meeting rooms, public hearings, or these days the Zoom calls, where critical public interest decisions are being made. 

Maryland PIRG's top priorities this legislative session include: 

  • The PFAS Protection Act: Stopping the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam, food packaging and rugs and carpets, and preventing the mass incineration or landfilling of PFAS chemicals. Marylanders are exposed to PFAS chemicals, which are linked to cancer and other illnesses, in water, food, and consumer products. 
  • Right to Repair: Giving consumers and small businesses access to the parts, tools and service information they need to repair products. Electronics manufacturers’ repair restrictions make it harder and more expensive to get our electronics fixed, which is bad for consumers and the environment.
  • End the Nicotine Trap: Stopping the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, and cigars. We need to protect kids from nicotine addiction and all the harm that comes with it. 
  • Democracy for the People:  We’re working to increase civic participation by improving access to voter registration, mail-in voting, and early voting. And, we’re working to update our Gubernatorial small donor public financing program to enable candidates to run for office without large or corporate contributions by providing limited matching funds for small donations.

We have an incredible opportunity to move the ball forward on these issues and others in Maryland. To ensure progress we need to give our public interest champions the support they need to to take bold action and reach out to those who could be swayed by the right facts, persuasive arguments and public opinion.

With the legislative session operating mostly remotely, we have new challenges ahead of us to stand up for the public interest in Maryland. And as we face the public health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, we must be vigilant and vocal in our advocacy.

And we can’t do it without you. Your support and attention help to keep our elected officials accountable. 

Maryland PIRG's 2021 State Legislative Agenda

Maryland PIRG’s role is to find common ground around commonsense solutions that will make our future healthier, safer and more secure. 

Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Recently, Emily helped win small donor public financing in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City; the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses; and, the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms. Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working, and the Maryland Tobacco Free Kids Coalition. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.