Gov. Moore is putting pressure on state agencies to set example for climate resiliency, wielding data to make change. Meanwhile, the ever-vigilant National Rifle Association jumped to sue the state as soon as restrictions on open carry of firearms got the governor's signature last week. The Blue Crab, a signature foodstuff associated with Maryland, has made something of a comeback in its Chesapeake Bay ecosystem but all parties agree more recovery is needed. And the on-again, off-again struggle in DC about the debt ceiling keeps Marylanders on the edge; a default could mean iinstant disaster while big cuts in public relief programs could affect Maryland's financial health. All this and more in News You Can Use this week.
Moore Issues Exec Order On State Agencies’ Climate Action Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed an executive order pushing state agencies to promote sustainability through data collection, audits and internal projects that work reduce the effects of climate change in Maryland. A statement said Moore wants his administration to “lead by example” in energy conservation. The executive order says that “state agencies should play a leading role in achieving the State’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.” Maryland Matters
Crab Population Up, But Not Enough: The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population has recovered somewhat from last year’s low ebb, new data show, but not enough to dispel worries about the future of the region’s most valuable commercial fishery and most popular recreational fishery. Bay Journal/Marylandreporter.com.
Federal Default Could Bring Long-Term Pain To Marylanders: Thousands of Marylanders could be out of a paycheck or other benefits if federal leaders fail to reach an agreement to increase the nation’s debt ceiling. With roughly two weeks left before the so-called X Date, lawmakers from both parties are negotiating to avoid defaulting on debt payments. Economists and state leaders warn of unpleasant short-term effects that could become painful long-term if negotiations stall. Maryland Matters.
NRA Files Suit Against Maryland On Gun Laws: The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm filed a lawsuit against the state of Maryland Tuesday after Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed a pair of gun control bills that the NRA says will prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying for self-defense purposes. Fox News
Pittman Makes 2nd Try for Public Campaign Financing in AA County: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman began his second attempt to pass public campaign finance legislation at Monday night’s County Council meeting after his efforts to get it on the ballot failed in 2022. Capital Gazette.
At the (other) states level:
The Minnesota Senate approved a bill creating a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers. (Minnesota Reformer)
Florida: The NAACP, Equality Florida and the League of United Latin American Citizens have issued a travel advisory calling the state “openly hostile” to minorities. The NAACP cited Florida’s rejection of an AP class on African American Studies and legislation banning colleges from allowing diversity, equity and inclusion programs. (Orlando Sentinel)
Commentary: Economists Hate Rent Control. Here’s Why They’re Wrong., argues Mark Paul in the American Prospect, in a plainspoken account of why “rent control works; as study after study has shown, rent regulation keeps housing more affordable” despite the shibboleths of classical economics. Via Portside
And more on housing: Will States Force Localities to Build Affordable Housing? “America is facing a housing shortage that has driven up prices in cities, towns and rural places,” and “Experts have pinpointed zoning as one of the major culprits” says one housing scholar. Many localities, notably suburbs, are decidedly disinclined, however, to do much about this challenge. Typically, they hew to the principle that zoning in whatever way they choose is a bedrock principle of local control. But as the housing shortage gets worse, a growing number of states are threatening to alter that long-standing principle. Route Fifty
(And see below in national news about the video “The Rent is too Damned High” from People’s Action)
How to fight the generators of climate change: Racketeering lawsuits aren’t just for the Mafia anymore; they’ve also been successful against tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris, and pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic. It could be the start of a new wave of climate lawsuits based on RICO statutes such as the one pursued against oil companies by Hoboken, NJ, which floods frequently due to sea level rise and other tidal factors. Route Fifty
Incentives for green retrofitting often target individual homeowners. But a new federal program will fund energy-efficient and climate-resilient upgrades in multifamily homes, which can improve the quality of life of historically underserved populations. Route Fifty
News at the Federal level – reintroduction of Medicare4All!
Megan Essaheb, director of federal affairs at our national affiliate People’s Action, reports this (Monday) morning:
ISSUE UPDATE: HEALTHCARE
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) reintroduced Medicare for All last week. Senator Sanders and Rep. Jayapal held a Medicare for All town hall on Tuesday evening to discuss the need for Medicare for All. Rights & Democracy New Hampshire member Jenn Coffey spoke about her experiences with private insurance denying her claims at the event! Progressive Maryland member and co-chair of People’s Action’s Health Care for All cohort, Mike Walsh, spoke at the reintroduction press conference on Wednesday! People’s Action’s press statement is available here.
And: Ady Barkan wrote an oped in the National on How Medicare Advantage could kill Medicare for All.
Also on federal healthcare issues: Pro Publica reports on Cigna’s use of algorithms to deny claims: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce joined several state and federal regulators in scrutinizing the legality of Cigna rejecting the payment of certain claims using a system known as PXDX.
But why is this the only way we find out about these patterns of abuse? From an opinion piece in WaPo on claims denials: “The Affordable Care Act clearly stated that HHS “shall” collect the data on denials from private health insurers and group health plans and is supposed to make that information publicly available. (Who would choose a plan that denied half of claims?) The data is also supposed to be available to state insurance commissioners, who share with HHS the duties of oversight and trying to curb abuse. To date, such information-gathering has been haphazard and limited to a small subset of plans, and the data isn’t audited to ensure it is complete, according to Karen Pollitz, one of the authors of the KFF study. Federal oversight and enforcement based on the data are therefore more or less nonexistent. HHS did not respond to requests for comment.”
ISSUE UPDATE: CLIMATE
The White House put out this factsheet: FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Outlines Priorities for Building America’s Energy Infrastructure Faster, Safer, and Cleaner | The White House
BUT From Inside Climate News: Biden Power Plant Plan Gives Industry Time, Options for Cutting Climate Pollution: The long-awaited proposed rules, which rely heavily on carbon capture and hydrogen, are only part of the policy needed to get the U.S. to 100 percent clean electricity.
Also From Inside Climate News: “The Biden administration is taking steps to address a regulatory loophole that public interest groups said allowed at least a half-billion tons of toxic coal ash to go unregulated. The Environmental Protection Agency published a new draft rule Wednesday that the groups said would extend federal oversight to much of the coal ash disposed at both operating and retired power plants.”
ISSUE UPDATE: HOUSING
Check out this video, “The Rent is Too Damn High” with a Forbes interview with Tara Raghuveer, the director of People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee Campaign. And share it.
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