Congress is back so get on their backs; PA joins regional green group

News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngA lot of news -- disasters, war, climate decline -- just thumps you in the noggin and leaves you stunned and feeling helpless. In this weekly blog post we try to round up news from Maryland and the federal government that offers you a path to make change. Still feeling kind of surrounded and alone? News you can use shows how people acting together make bigger change, so join Progressive Maryland to open that window.



 

NATIONAL NEWS YOU CAN USE

Megan E’s wrap for the week from People’s Action, our national affiliate:

As Congress readies to go back into session this week, Democrats are calling for a budget reconciliation package again in order to keep their majorities in the midterms, saying that they need a deal by Memorial day in order to get it passed by July 4th. Outlets are reporting that Senator Manchin and the White House “exchanged niceties” igniting hope on that front. Senator Warren penned an oped in the NYTimes outlining a plan for Democrats to save their majorities in the midterms. She calls for passing a budget reconciliation bill that includes a billionaires tax; pass a ban on stock ownership for Members of Congress and their families; address monopolies and corporate price gouging by: “beefing up regulators’ authority to end price-gouging, breaking up monopolies, and passing a windfall profits tax”; and for Biden to take administrative action by canceling some amount of student loan debt, and lowering prescription drug prices.

THINGS YOU CAN DO

End Title 42: Many progressive organizations have signed off on a letter to Pres. Biden urging him to restore the asylum system and keep his stated intention to end Title 42, which uses the excuse of COVID to restrict asylum seekers’ rights at the southern border. A  handful of Democrats are calling for its end to be delayed. Here’s a petition for telling your members of Congress to hold off on Title 42

Pass Medicare for All: Tell Your Senators to Cosponsor Medicare for All: Senator Sanders will reintroduce Medicare for All on May 5th. Here is an email template that you can use to contact your members and ask them to contact their senators. 

 

 IN MARYLAND

Big news: Pennsylvania will join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

“After more than 2 years in legal and legislative battles, Pennsylvania is poised to become the twelfth state to join the carbon-cutting effort known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“A Commonwealth Court failed to block the state’s publishing of final regulations on April 23, clearing the way for Pennsylvania’s hotly contested membership in the program.

. …”Among states in the Chesapeake Bay drainage area, Virginia, New York, Maryland and Delaware are already in RGGI, though Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has tried — so far unsuccessfully — to withdraw the state.” More is in the Bay Journal.

Larry Hogan’s Department of the Environment has chipped away at RGGI’s decarbonization plans whenever possible but keeps up a good green front through his two-term department Secretary Ben Grumbles. Just keeping Maryland in the RGGI consortium has been chancey under Hogan, who has occasionally threatened to leave if he didn’t get the pro-industry breaks he wanted from the governance group. But a regional dialogue means we can take action on a scale big enough to match the challenges.

DEADLINE TO FORM POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY BOARDS: Under a new state law, county police accountability boards will receive complaints of officer misconduct, review disciplinary outcomes, issue suggestions for policy improvements, and appoint civilian members to administrative charging committees. Specifics of membership, board powers and funding are left to the counties themselves — and each is facing a looming July 1 deadline, leaving a tight timeline to hash out the details of consequential oversight bodies. And The Sun’s reporters analyze the prospects for reform, with Baltimore County’s efforts as a template.

How well have the region’s hospitals and health systems weathered the COVID blitz?

A report in the Washington Business Journal recaps “In Maryland, where (hospital) operating margins traditionally average 2% to 3% — lower than the 6% national average — the median margin dipped to negative terrain in October, crawling back up to 0.5% as of January. The public health emergency’s initial onslaught in 2020 left Virginia hospitals with $1.8 billion in lost revenue, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. While the full impact is still being evaluated, projections from the region’s hospital associations have put total revenue losses across D.C., Maryland and Virginia hospitals at more than $4.5 billion for 2020 alone

“The prognosis isn’t pretty — indeed, most agree, it’s financially unsustainable.” The article notes that the Assembly session provided some relief cash for hospitals and health systems in the state.  More here, but paywalled.