NUCU_logo_new.pngInteresting events here and in DC as the General Assembly this week enters on the last month of the session, while Joe Biden’s budget (released Monday) has some big moves on housing, one of the big complaints for many folks otherwise benefiting from a flush economy. How much can be squeezed through the knife-edge GOP House majority is another question – the mantra there is “Who cares if it’s good for the general population – don’t give Biden a win.”



 

Interesting events here and in DC as the General Assembly this week enters on the last month of the session, while Joe Biden’s budget (released Monday) has some big moves on housing, one of the big complaints for many folks otherwise benefiting from a flush economy. How much can be squeezed through the knife-edge GOP House majority is another question – the mantra there is “Who cares if it’s good for the general population – don’t give Biden a win.”

 

HERE IN MARYLAND

Bill Would Make Prisoner Phone Calls To Loved Ones Free: Proposed legislation would require the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to allow people in prison to make phone calls free to family, friends and other loved ones. [excessive call fees imposed by monopoly companies with prison exclusives have long been a complaint]The bill was one of a few pieces of legislation addressing correctional services and inmates’ lives that have been discussed in Annapolis in recent days. Maryland Matters.

 

No Tax Hikes Included In 2025 Budget: Senate leaders Friday said Maryland’s fiscal 2025 budget will continue to protect key priorities without the need for tax increases. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee finished work on a $63.1 billion budget proposed earlier this year by Gov. Wes Moore (D). The revised spending plan is expected to be before the Senate with a final vote next week. Maryland Matters.

Senate OKs Bill To Allow Undocumented To Buy Health Insurance: State lawmakers are on track to allowing undocumented immigrants to buy health insurance on the state’s insurance exchange — though they’ll still need to pay full price and won’t get any government subsidies. The Maryland Senate gave approval to the change on a 34-13 vote on Friday afternoon. That followed approval in the House of Delegates on a 101-34 vote in late February. Baltimore Banner

Top Moore Enviro Ally Opposes Data Centers Bill: The Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Gov. Wes Moore’s closest ally in the state’s environmental community, came out against one of the governor’s top legislative priorities Friday. Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble said in a letter to legislators the green group “regretfully” has decided to oppose Senate Bill 474, legislation from the Moore administration designed to attract large-scale data centers to the state. “This bill exempts the hundreds of diesel powered back-up generators at high-energy-use facilities from an important regulatory review by the Public Service Commission,” she wrote. Maryland Matters.

 

Push For Naloxone In Schools: Currently, a disparate and ambiguous set of school district-level policies has created confusion on the role students may play in preventing opioid deaths among their peers. But a bill before the General Assembly would explicitly authorize students across the state to possess and administer naloxone — also known by its brand name, Narcan — as adolescent opioid deaths surge and teens lobby for urgent solutions. Maryland Matters.

 

Grants Would Offset Cost Of Zero-Emissions Work Vehicles: Maryland announced a new program to help drive the fight against climate change. The Maryland Energy Administration unveiled the new fiscal year 2024 Medium-Duty and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Grant Program. The plan provides grants to Maryland communities, organizations, and fleet companies that will help offset the cost of purchasing zero-emission medium- or heavy-duty fleet vehicles, and zero-emission off-road heavy equipment. Baltimore Fishbowl.

 

Stein Bill Seen As Solid Move Toward Climate Goals: Del. Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County) was one of the major architects of the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, which was meant to guide the state’s response to climate change. Now, one of Stein’s bills is seen by some colleagues and environmental advocates as a preferred vehicle for funding some of the state’s ambitious climate goals. The legislation calls for creation of a fossil fuel mitigation fund within the Maryland Department of the Environment with the revenues from a new fee. Maryland Matters.

 

 

WITH THE STATES

 

EDUCATION: The Alabama House voted Thursday to advance legislation prohibiting diversity, equity and inclusion programs at universities and state agencies. The bill bars classes, training or programs where attendance is based on race, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation. (Associated Press) via Pluribus

 

HOUSING: Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D) introduced a 15-bill legislative package meant to spur housing development. The bills would make it easier for developers to build new housing, identify properties that could become new developments, and allow homeowners to develop accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. (Boston Globe) via Pluribus

MORE: Oregon legislators cleared the final component of Gov. Tina Kotek’s (D) $376 million housing package, providing small cities build at least 585 new homes. The bill requires developers to commit to reserving at least 30% of new homes for low-income residents. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)

GUN MAGAZINES: A federal appeals court upheld Rhode Island’s 2022 law banning gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, rejecting arguments by a group of gun owners that the legislation violated the Second Amendment, the Rhode Island Current reports.

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D) and Assemblyman Rick Chavez Zbur (D) unveiled a legislative package to tackle retail theft. The bill adds criminal penalties of up to three years for possession of stolen property with the intent to resell, and requires online sellers to maintain chain of custody records for goods they sell. (Sacramento Bee) via Pluribus

 

The Truth Is On Their Shoulders: Police officers in Roswell, N.M., have a new uniform patch that embraces the city’s image as the home of a purported UFO crash in 1947. The patch, which features a UFO and alien heads, promises to “Protect and Serve Those That Land Here.”  (Albuquerque Journal) Pluribus "Off the Wall" section.

 

NATIONAL AND THE FEDS

Our national affiliate People’s Action via fed affairs director Megan E, files this report Monday morning, with both House and Senate on the job (how weird is THAT?)

“The President is releasing his budget for FY2025 today. It will focus on repealing the Trump tax cuts and therefore raising taxes on the rich, as well as efforts to lower housing costs. (Trump’s tax package expires next year). And here’s more on housing relief: Biden to propose new $5,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers “The proposals would provide middle-class, first-time buyers with $5,000 per year for two years. That would have the same effect as lowering a buyer’s mortgage rate by more than 1.5 percentage points for two years on the median home, according to the White House.” And still more:

The US wants to boost affordable housing by using billions in unspent COVID aid

Leftover funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance program can be rerouted towards low-income housing initiatives, including land acquisition, pre-development, construction and rehabilitation. The program primarily served to prevent COVID-era evictions. According to Reuters, around $6.9 billion was unused by June 30, 2023. "While the ERA program has already made more than 12.3 million household payments to keep renting families in their homes, these changes will build out the pipeline to bring additional rental units onto the market," the Treasury announcement said.

 

 What You Can Do This Week

Please join us and share our Livestream: UnitedHealth (Doesn't) Care: Demand United Put Care Over Cost! Register now for UnitedHealth (Doesn't) Care: Demand United Put Care Over Cost! on crowdcast, scheduled to go live on March 13, 2024, 08:00 PM EDT. [Note: United Healthcare is still not doing much explaining to Maryland officials about the recent hack it experienced.   WYPR-FM reports.)

 

ISSUE UPDATE: CLIMATE

Wall Street’s top regulator green-lighted a groundbreaking rule aimed at uncovering new climate-related information from corporate America, capping a pressure campaign that has fractured Washington for two years. The Securities and Exchange Commission voted along party lines Wednesday to order thousands of public companies to begin divulging more details about the climate risks they face, the costs of severe weather events and, in some cases, their greenhouse gas emissions. The nearly 900-page rule represents one of the biggest overhauls of U.S. corporate reporting in years and is a legacy-defining effort for SEC Chair Gary Gensler.

 

A Tough Audience: Fox News was the most-watched television network during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday with 5.843 million viewers. (TVNewser) About 32.2 million people tuned in live to watch Biden’s speech, up 18% from last year’s audience of 27.3 million, ratings agency Nielsen said Friday. (NYT) Viewership skewed older, with 74% of the audience aged 55 or older. Just 19% of viewers who watched one of the 14 channels tracked by Nielsen were between the ages of 35 and 54, and about 5% of the audience came from the 18-through-34 demographic. (WaPo)

 

Clock Is TikToking; Alliances Are Weird; Money May Be Root: “The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill Thursday that would force the sale of TikTok by ByteDance, the company that owns it, or face a ban in the United States. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise wants it on the floor Wednesday. And Biden said he will sign it if it reaches his desk,” reports Punchbowl News. BUT, BUT… Punchbowl, POLITICO Playbook and other newsletters report that a major Trump donor is also a big TikTok investor and so somehow Trump doesn’t like the bill, leaving some very Trumpy House members neck-deep in contradiction.

woody woodruff

About

M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...