A new administration for Maryland will get sworn in tomorrow (Wednesday) -- except for new (and first woman) Comptroller Brooke Lierman, who by state law was sworn in yesterday (Monday) despite the holiday. As we note below, Maryland in the wake of eight years of Larry Hogan's tender care shows plenty of remediation needed. It's all News You Can Use, and you have our permission to get angry enough to do something about it yourself. Team up with others in a group that seeks a better Maryland. May we suggest Progressive Maryland?
The new look begins: Lierman sworn in as Maryland’s first woman comptroller During a nearly 45-minute ceremony outside the Goldstein Treasury Building in Annapolis, Lierman thanked her family, former General Assembly colleagues and Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who conducted one of his final official duties as governor to swear in Lierman. Maryland Matters.
Speaking of state finance -- Bill Would Allow Jurisdictions To Hike Income Tax On High Earners: A bill heralded by progressive lawmakers would allow Montgomery County and other jurisdictions in Maryland to raise income taxes on high-earning residents by a half-percentage point to provide tax relief for low- and moderate-income families. The bill, sponsored by Julie Palakovich Carr in the House and Sen. Jim Rosapepe in the Senate, would increase the maximum allowable income tax rate from 3.2% to 3.7%. Bethesda Beat
Model Abortion Protection Laws for Refugees from Draconian States Offer Options
States that don’t have draconian abortion laws and want to safely provide reproductive health services to refugees from states that do have evolving model laws to choose from. The latest, we learn from Pluribus News, has been passed and signed in Illinois. It’s one of the blue states that border on or are nearby states that have jumped on the opportunity for oppression offered by the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Maryland is one too, with a longish border with West Virginia and close to Ohio. If Glenn Youngkin’s fifteenth-week restriction gets past Virginia’s Senate (unlikely at this point) that may open up another borderland.
Mental Health Funding Still Lagging at State Level
Fewer than 20 states have approved legislation to permanently fund the 988 mental health crisis line, even as the number of calls skyrockets. The new shorter helpline registered 154,000 more calls during November 2022 than in November 2021, and texts to the number increased by 1,227% over the same period. See this article focused on a busy Hyattsville helpline, even though Maryland has not yet passed permanent funding. (Associated Press)
Mental health crises have erupted across the country, exacerbated by the pandemic. Read our look at what states are actually doing to tackle the problems. Pluribus
Evictions rising to 2019 levels in state
Over the course of nearly three years, thousands of evictions were prevented across Maryland by a combination of federal and local eviction moratoriums. But despite the looming prospect of much boosted HUD funding in the housing area (see our Fed report below), the Baltimore Banner (paywalled) reports that evictions are rising to their pre-pandemic level in Maryland.
Maryland College Savings 529 Problems Persist, Lawmakers Concerned: Problems with Maryland’s popular prepaid college trust tuition program have affected almost 500 families across the state. The complaint caught the attention of Anne Arundel County Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-District 30, who sent a letter that was signed by more than two-dozen other lawmakers to the colleges and universities where students are attending on 529 plans. WBAL TV
The Job Opportunities Task Force Legislative Agenda -- the Baltimore-based NGO is a frequent ally of Progressive Maryland and other activist groups in proposing and promoting pro-family legislation in each Assembly session. Here is their latest legislative agenda. They focus on the nuts and bolts of everyday life for working and poor families and the factors in law and regulation that create a “criminalization of poverty,” increasing hardships, job loss and incarceration for families already behind the eight-ball of racism and sexism in low-income job sectors..
Biden administration floats update for offshore renewable energy regulations
“The proposed changes include a schedule for expected lease sales for the next five years. The Interior Department is introducing the first major update in more than a decade for [sometimes “burdensome”] regulations governing the development of renewable energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf — a move the agency estimates will save developers about $1 billion over 20 years.” Politico
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (paywalled) is reporting that two “forever chemicals” (PFAS) will be banned from drinking water – good news for us folks further downstream on the Susquehanna.
ON THE NATIONAL FRONT (NEWS ABOUT DOWNTOWN DC DOINGS FROM PEOPLE’S ACTION)
Megan Essaheb’s Monday blast on DC came on Tuesday this week. She is Director of Federal Affairs at People’s Action, our national affiliate.
“Last week, Senator Warren and Congressman Bowman sent a letter to the President signed by 50+ Members of Congress listing several policies that the administration can take to protect tenants from rent gouging and protect tenants’ rights. The letter was a successful effort by the Homes Guarantee campaign to get Congress to echo our policy demands and urge the President to take executive action. You can read the Congressional office’s press release here and amplify their tweet here.
“In case there was some confusion about what House Republicans stand for [and after 15 ballots why not?], the first bill that they voted on made clear who they work for. The House passed a bill along party lines to ensure that big corporations and wealthy CEOs can continue to cheat on their taxes. The bill would rescind the Inflation Reduction Act’s funding for the Internal Revenue Service, [underfunded for decades for the same reason…]
Our neighbors in Ohio, famously upwind of us in Maryland, are afflicted by legislators who will send climate catastrophe and polluted air at us anew: “The Washington Post reports on Ohio legislation signed this month that redefines natural gas as ‘green energy,’ ” as Megan E notes.
And on housing costs and greedy landlords, a particular problem in high-cost Maryland, “While $1.4 billion in earmarks went to the Department of Housing and Urban Development last year, the amount rose to $2.9 billion this year, according to an analysis by the National Council of State Housing Agencies. That $1.5 billion increase made up the biggest boost in funding in the omnibus deal for HUD programs, according to the analysis. The next biggest increase, according to the analysis, was a $420 million bump for homeless assistance grants, from $3.2 billion to $3.6 billion.” [Now we just have to go after it].
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