NUCU_logo_new.pngWelcome to Maryland's government at work, foregrounded by the three-month General Assembly session that kicked off last week.

The General Assembly opened last Wednesday, and already we are plunged from broad strokes and the leadership's confident assertions of orderliness (see below) to the minutiae of hearings.

Our allies in the Maryland Legislative Coalition have the kind of info that allows everyone to participate as this multibillion-dollar process lurches into the grind.

Find the hearing schedules, priority bills and participation rules explained here.

And there is lots more News You Can Use, from Maryland, other states and the federal government, in this week's blog.



.The General Assembly opened last Wednesday, and already we are plunged from broad strokes and the leadership's confident assertions of orderliness (see below) to the minutiae of hearings.

Our allies in the Maryland Legislative Coalition have the kind of info that allows everyone to participate as this multibillion-dollar process lurches into the grind.

Find the hearing schedules, priority bills and participation rules explained here.


Moore Preps for Year 2: While not new to negotiating given his business experience, Gov. Wes Moore wasn’t quite used to the public-facing aspects of the Orioles lease talks. As he’s preparing for year two, meanwhile, there are mounting concerns that a growing $761 million budget deficit could put his and the legislature’s progressive goals — from reforming the education system to expanding mass transit — on the chopping block in the coming years without tough decisions on new taxes. Baltimore Sun. via Maryland Reporter

Lawmakers Look To Improve Dental Health: At the end of the first week of the 2024 General Assembly session, the House Health and Government Operations Committee has been assigned more than 40 bills involving changes to Maryland’s health system. But a couple of bills would affect an area of health that often goes overlooked: dental care. Maryland Matters. via Maryland Reporter

House To Focus On ‘Decency Agenda,’ Jones Says: The Maryland House of Delegates will focus on a “decency agenda” in 2024, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) said. Jones said the package of bills will focus on combating hate and prejudice, including against Jewish and Muslim people. “These bills will put safeguards and best practices in place to make sure that intolerance and hate don’t take further root in our state’s institutions and schools,” she said. “We can’t count on the courts to protect us anymore. So, stay tuned.” Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter

Housing, Violence And Budget Woes Focus Of Maryland Session
Lawmakers will take up granting health care to undocumented people, subsidizing childcare and granting terminal patients the right to end their lives.WaPo

Ferguson Optimistic on Balancing Budget With ‘Small Adjustments:’ Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) expressed cautious optimism for the Senate’s legislative priorities in the upcoming General Assembly session, even in a challenging state budget year. “There are a lot of places to make small adjustments that make a big difference. I feel very confident that we’ll be able to balance” the budget, he said. Maryland Matters.

 USDA Launches New Summer Food Program For Low-Income Children; Maryland is On Board
Thirty-five states, including Maryland, are participating in the 2024 launch of a program that will provide low-income families $40 per child for groceries during the summer months when schools are not in session. Stateline Daily

 Energy Firms Push Back as Lawmakers Seek Tougher Consumer Protections:
As top lawmakers move to strengthen consumer protections for utility customers who shop for electricity suppliers, large national energy companies are countering with a poll showing an overwhelming majority of voters want to retain robust competition in the marketplace. Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter

State To Build 58 Fed-Financed EV Charging Stations: Maryland has received a $15 million federal grant from the Biden-Harris administration to build 58 electric vehicle charging stations to be spread throughout the state. Through the market and subsidies, electric vehicles are becoming more affordable but a lack of charging stations remains a barrier, especially in historically underinvested communities. WYPR-FM via Maryland Reporter

 Advocates Wonder If Moore Admin Up To Climate Goals: Late last year, the administration of Gov. Wes Moore released a plan to require the state to invest billions in climate actions and pass bold legislation to accelerate clean energy transitions and hold fossil fuel companies accountable. But as members of the General Assembly gather in Annapolis for their 90-day session, advocates and some legislators wonder if the administration has the strategy to implement Maryland’s Climate Pollution Reduction Plan. Inside Climate News.

 QUOTE OF THE DAY: Do remember when we have lunches, breakfasts, dinners and things like that, the folks that are sponsoring those dinners are sponsoring to spend time with you, to get to know you.” — Kansas House Majority Leader Chris Croft (R), reminding lawmakers to pay attention to the lobbyists who feed them. (Topeka Capital-Journal) via Pluribus

AND “Growth In [Maryland’s] Total Number Of Registered Lobbyists — More Than 660 — is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, according to a review of data from the Maryland State Ethics Commission. The 13% increase year over year has driven a related surge in lobbyists who reported making at least $50,000 during the Nov. 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023 reporting period.” Maryland Matters, [July 2023]

Maryland Hails ‘Remarkable’ Year for Young Oysters In The Chesapeake Bay
Maryland officials said the state’s annual count measuring reproductive success and potential population growth for oysters is the highest in 40 years. WaPo



MD, Other States Retooling Social Media Legislation After Calif. Court  Rejection: Backers of youth data privacy protections are retooling model legislation, after California’s version of the law was blocked in a lawsuit funded by the tech industry. Supporters of increased protections for youth data will aim to pass new legislation this year in Maryland, Minnesota and New Mexico, and similar laws could be considered in Illinois, Vermont and New York. (Pluribus News)

Amid Literacy Push, Many States Don’t Prepare Teachers for Success, Report Finds

Dozens of states have overhauled their strategies for literacy instruction over the last half-decade, a reflection of both long-held frustrations with slow progress and newer concerns over COVID-era learning loss. But a new report finds that many don't adequately prepare teachers to carry out the new agenda. The 74

HOUSING: Oregon’s Housing Production Advisory Council offered 59 potential solutions to the state’s housing crisis aimed at reaching Gov. Tina Kotek’s (D) goal of 36,000 new homes every year. Among the proposals are hefty tax increases aimed at raising $3 billion a year, including personal income, property, retail, payroll and fuel tax increases. (Oregonian)

WORKFORCE: The Indiana Senate Local Government Committee unanimously endorsed legislation that would require a municipality to pay a portion of training costs if it poaches a new police officer from another jurisdiction. The measure is meant to cut down on counties, cities and towns poaching new officers soon after they graduate from training courses. (Northwest Indiana Times) via Pluribus

What the New Wealth Tax in Massachusetts Is Paying For
Massachusetts voters approved an additional tax on incomes of more than a million dollars. At least a billion extra dollars will support transportation and education projects this year. Governing magazine via Portside

ALASKA: Sponsors Of an Initiative To Raise The Minimum Wage turned in more than 41,000 signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot on Tuesday. The initiative would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027, then adjust it annually for inflation. They need about 26,000 signatures to be valid to qualify for ballot access. (Anchorage Daily News)



MEDICAID: Federal officials have given New York the go-ahead to spend more than $6 billion in Medicaid money to provide housing, nutrition, substance use disorder treatment and behavioral health services to vulnerable populations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been pushing states to experiment with programs that go beyond basic medical needs. (Pluribus News)

Mass Transit Climbing Back Into View:
Transit ridership rose to 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels in November, the highest mark since March of 2020. (New Geography) via Streetsblog

GUN POLITICS: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court that upheld a state law requiring gun owners to register assault-style weapons they own. The law bans the delivery, sale, import or purchase of assault-style weapons. (Chicago Tribune) via pluribus

By the numbers: 19.6%: The share of office space in major U.S. cities that was not leased in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to Moody’s Analytics, up from 18.8% a year earlier. It’s the highest vacancy rate recorded since Moody’s began keeping track in 1979. (Wall Street Journal) via Pluribus

Marijuana Reclassification Proposed Over Lower Public Health Risk, Documents Show Federal health officials determined marijuana poses a lower public health risk than other controlled substances and offers possible medical benefits before they proposed ending its designation as among the riskiest drugs, according to documents released Friday. WaPo


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...