News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngTaxes, taxes... two locomotives are a-bound to bump as the Maryland House is putting together a tax package and the Senate (no doubt considering that this is an election year and wondering "what are they thinking") is digging its heels in from the Senate Prez on down. And in the halls of Congress (officially empty for the next two weeks) a tax bill that would keep some child care subsidies alive is languishing. Nothing new there. Around the country, in state legislatures and administrations, some serious problems about housing are getting bemoaned and sometimes addressed. Landlords beware. But hey, the government is funded and there won't be another shutdown scare until, um, October, Bad timing, or what?

It's all News You Can Use, the good, the bad and the unseemly, predigested for your browsing pleasure.





More From PIRG Study on Lobbyists for Utilities: Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spent $443,983 and registered 22 lobbyists to influence public policy in 2023. Its sister utility, Potomac Electric Power Co., also owned by Chicago-based Exelon Corp., spent $647,813 and had 22 lobbyists. During the General Assembly’s legislative session last year, the two utilities were involved with more than 50 bills focused on such areas as energy, the environment, decarbonization, decommissioning of power plants and the state’s climate transition legislation. In all, Maryland’s 11 regulated utilities spent more than $2 million on lobbying during 2023, according to “Politics of Power: Gas and Electric Utilities’ Political Spending in Maryland,” a report released this month by Maryland PIRG Foundation that drew on the utilities’ required disclosures. State law prevents utilities from recouping from customers [using ratepayers’ money for] any lobbying expenses or costs not beneficial to ratepayers. But rules governing advertising and other activities are murkier, said Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG’s state director. The public gets only a limited view of such spending, Scarr said. Baltimore Sun

Bill To Improve ER Overdose Practices Moves Forward: Legislation by Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Rockville) to improve the practices of hospital emergency rooms across Maryland in responding to opioid overdoses is a short procedural step away from being sent to Gov. Wes Moore (D) for his signature. Both Stewart’s bill, HB1155, and companion legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike McKay (R-Allegany County), SB1071, cleared their respective chambers by unanimous votes earlier this week, just before Crossover Day. MoCo 360                via Maryland Reporter

Maryland's Unemployment Rate Inches Up –to 2.4%: After claiming the title of lowest state unemployment rate in the country last year, Maryland’s unemployment rate rose for the third consecutive month in February. Virginia’s unemployment rate held steady last month. The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Maryland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February was 2.4%, up from 2.3% in January and 2.2% in December. WTOP-FM via Maryland Reporter

MD Senate Leader Still a “No” On Broad-Based Taxes But Leaves Room For Negotiation: Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) is not budging from opposition to broad-based tax increases or iGaming in the waning days of the 2024 session. House and Senate leaders are expected to head to a conference committee [this] week to work out differences in the $63 billion fiscal 2025 spending plan. The biggest among them is a $1.2 billion tax, fee and gaming package cobbled together by House Democrats. “We’ve been clear on what the Senate’s position was for months. Nothing changed on our end,” Ferguson told reporters during a Friday morning meeting last week. Maryland Matters

Delegate Seeks to Remove School Disruption Charge From Criminal Code: Hundreds of Maryland children are being arrested for disruptive school behavior under what advocates call an antiquated and discriminatory state law. For the fourth year in a row, Del. Sheila Ruth is sponsoring a bill to remove the school disruption charge from Maryland’s criminal code. WYPR-FM via Maryland Reporter

Despite Concerns, Senate May Vote On Board Of Elections Nominee: The Maryland Senate as early as this week could take up the stalled appointment of a Howard County woman to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Diane Butler was nominated by the Maryland Republican Party to fill one of two vacancies on the panel. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee delayed a vote two weeks ago after one member of the committee asked for a pause because of comments made in emails and a social media post described as antisemitic. Maryland Matters.

 General Assembly Will Study Ways to Modernize Local Revenue Structures: The Maryland General Assembly will study ways to modernize local revenue structures and grant counties additional tools to meet their communities’ evolving needs, stimulate economic growth, and enhance the quality of life for Maryland residents. The House Ways and Means Committee referred HB 919 to an interim study. The bill sought to authorize county governments to impose a separate tax rate on specified subclasses of real property, as identified and approved by the General Assembly, to fund local transportation priorities and public schools. Conduit Street (MaCo)



Moore Warns Of 'Democracy Threat' Messaging To Win Biden Votes: Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland and campaign surrogate for Joe Biden, has warned of the limitations of an election message centered on the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump. The Guardian via Maryland Reporter

HOUSING: The Bills Next Door…  Delaware lawmakers introduced a package of seven affordable housing bills Thursday, including measures to reduce the realty transfer tax on affordable developments and establishing protections for manufactured homeowners. One bill will create a workforce housing program that would give developers grants of up to 20% of their project costs. (Delaware News Journal) Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano (D) said his chamber would consider a new transfer tax on high-end properties. (Boston Globe) via Pluribus

Also Next Door: Rights Restoration Continues to Flag Under Youngkin: The number of Virginians who are getting their right to vote back after convictions for felonies fell for the second year running, after Gov. Glenn Youngkin halted his predecessors’ practice of automatically restoring rights, the latest annual report from the Secretary of the Commonwealth shows. The report, required by the state constitution, shows that Youngkin restored rights to just under 2,580 individuals last year, down from just under 4,000 the year before, a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis found. via Stateline


STUDY: Huge Rent Increases Hit Poor, Minorities Hardest -- Today about 37% of U.S. homes are occupied by renters. By 2020, almost 46% of U.S. renters paid more than 30% of their household income toward rent. As of June 2021, the median monthly rent in the 50 largest U.S. cities was $1,575 – an 8.1% increase from June 2020. The heaviest rent burdens fall disproportionately on minorities. Almost 46% of African American-led renter households are rent burdened, compared with 34% of white households. The Conversation

States warned of ‘recent and ongoing’ cyber threats to critical infrastructure:  The EPA and White House acknowledged water systems and other utilities “often lack the resources” to adopt rigorous cybersecurity measures. They want to partner to bolster the current efforts of state and local governments. Route Fifty

 From Megan E at our national affiliate People’s Action, a focus on what’s important as both houses of Congress are out: “Last week, Congress passed the final group of appropriations bills to fund the government through September 30th. “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), scolded ‘While hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children face starvation in Gaza, this bill actually prohibits funding to [UNRWA], the key United Nations aid agency delivering life-saving humanitarian support,’ Sanders said in a statement. ‘This bill also provides another $3.3 billion in U.S. military aid for Netanyahu’s right-wing government to continue this barbaric war.’ “

“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) described the Israeli military campaign as ‘an unfolding genocide’ during a speech on the House floor Friday. AOC — who called on the Biden administration to stop sending weapons to Israel — was one of 22 House Democrats who voted against the minibus.”

[Back at the House of Representatives permanent floating circus] Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) filed a motion to vacate the Speaker, which would force a vote on whether Speaker Johnson should be booted from his position. It mainly serves as a warning, because she has to take additional action to make the vote happen. Since another House Republican, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced he is quitting Congress on April 9th, Republicans will be left with a one vote majority. Taylor-Greene is likely to move forward with her motion to vacate if Johnson works with Democrats to pass Ukraine aid. 

The prospects for the bipartisan tax bill pairing an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and extension of some of Trump’s tax cuts for corporations is not looking good. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who is running to replace Mitch McConnell as the top Republican Senator gave a speech last week blasting the bill. “What we’re watching,” adds POLITICO Playbook, “…Is there any hope for the tax deal? It appears to be fading fast: The Senate left town early Saturday morning for a two-week recess with talks between Senate Finance Chair RON WYDEN (D-Ore.) and ranking member MIKE CRAPO (R-Idaho) at an impasse and GOP senators rallying against a pre-election deal. Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.) put the House-passed bill on the chamber’s calendar but did not move to tee up a vote. “In other words,” as our friends at Morning Tax wrote last week, “the tax bill will almost certainly still be in a messy spot even when the Senate returns from its upcoming recess on April 8, just a week before the end of the tax filing season.” [our italics]


Back to PA’s roundup: The popular (but tricky) path to climate wins:

 Why the Environmental Justice Movement Should Support the UAW Organizing Drive

A progressive version of the right’s Southern strategy could remake our politics—and ensure that the cars of the future, and the batteries they run on, are built by union labor. (in The Nation) In this analysis, 30% of Americans said they “definitely would” do at least one of four political actions to address climate change – over 100 million people who are very willing to engage. However, the barriers to climate action are complex, including psychological, social, and structural/logistical factors. For political actions such as contacting government officials, we have found that the most frequent barrier for registered voters is that no one has ever asked them to do it. [our italics] In addition, many say that it wouldn’t make any difference, they are not activists, they don’t know who to contact, or they wouldn’t know what to say. Source: latest YPCCC study on “attitude behavior gap”

Biden’s regulators issue long-awaited rule meant to drive electric car sales: The regulation offers a test of President Biden’s ability to drive an ambitious climate agenda while balancing the demands of key voting blocs. (POLITICO) And the wider view, Felicia Wong, “Industrial Policy’s Triumphant Return.” in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Data For Progress: Five Years After Its Introduction, the Green New Deal Is Still Incredibly Popular -- Sixty-two percent of voters support their member of Congress cosponsoring the Green New Deal resolution when it’s reintroduced.

A New Surge in Power Use Is Threatening U.S. Climate Goals: A boom in data centers and factories is straining electric grids and propping up fossil fuels. (NYT)

woody woodruff


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...