Where is the love on Valentine's Day? Not much we can (or want to) do about squabbling factions in the state GOP. But pressuring our state and federal officials about people- and family-centered laws and rules, keeping businesspersons' hands out of our pockets and securing our workplaces -- that's in our grasp. Take a look at the work going on at every level and team up with advocates and activists to make change.
It’s Valentine’s Day, but not a whole lotta love between political types – and not even within the GOP. Larry Hogan is obviously a perceived threat to Trump and his gang, and so Trump’s local satrap and GOP gubernatorial proxy has proposed impeachment for Hogan -- on numerous grounds first pointed out by progressive Dems.
COX FILES IMPEACHMENT RESOLUTION: Del. Dan Cox, a Republican Maryland lawmaker who is running for governor, introduced a resolution Thursday in an attempt to impeach Gov. Larry Hogan, a fellow Republican. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun
Not to let Cox off the hook, our allies at Our Revolution Maryland are rallying tomorrow outside the Board of Elections in Annapolis to call for an investigation about whether Cox was a flagrant enabler of the Jan. 6 insurrection (chartering buses, etc.) and ineligible to run for the governor’s office.
Filing deadline delayed The Maryland Court of Appeals on Friday pushed Maryland’s 2022 primary campaign candidate filing deadline back by a month after several petitions were filed against the state’s new legislative districts earlier this week.
The new deadline will be March 22 at 9 p.m., according to an order from Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty. More from Maryland Matters
Now on to the Assembly session, where we can learn how to make new, better laws and remove or fight off bad ones. Here's the Assembly lineup; below, the DC doings.
Senate behind the curtain -- More than 100 Maryland organizations have called on the state Senate to continue live video testimony at committee hearings after the chamber’s leadership announced it would end the option Monday when the Senate transitions back to in-person meetings.
The organizations, which include leading labor unions and social justice, voting rights and government accountability groups, released a statement Thursday saying ending the virtual testimony option would limit vital input from everyday Marylanders.
Primarily, the organizations said, people of color, immunocompromised individuals and workers whose schedules do not allow them time to attend meetings in Annapolis would have fewer opportunities to contribute. More from Capital News Service and MD Reporter
Our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition report that bill introduction deadlines in both House and Senate have passed and all the bills have thus theoretically been filed (leadership always has loopholes, of course).
The Coalition has the broad lineup of important hearings for the next two weeks and, separately, the urgent asks for bills on climate rights in the state constitution, wider protections against housing discrimination, health equity and reproductive rights, suicide prevention and guns, juvenile justice and preventing discrimination in school enrollment. All these bills need momentum as the process lurches over its first milestone and its first month of Session. The good bills you want to see succeed have to pass at least one chamber in the next five weeks. The Coalition has, as always, a tool kit (see either link) for putting your individual and community weight behind good bills with testimony, written or delivered. Note Senate rules for testimony are actually changing today, February 14.
Here are some news explainers on bills getting big attention
LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE CHILD CARE INDUSTRY HELP: Maryland lawmakers outlined a package of measures Thursday to support child care providers, who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past two years, more than 750 providers in Maryland have been forced to close, lawmakers said in a joint videoconference with delegates and senators. The package includes grants to attract and retain providers, as well as loans for capital expansions for facilities. Brian Witte/AP – and “As child care providers recover from the pandemic and struggle to find qualified staff, state lawmakers are introducing a raft of bills, with the support of both presiding officers, that aim to bolster child care capacity in Maryland.” Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters
PUSH FOR ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS RESUMES: After sputtering late in last year’s General Assembly session, efforts to pass wide-ranging environmental legislation in Maryland have resumed — and lawmakers say they’re optimistic they can find common ground. Environmental bills include statewide targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to provisions that would require newly constructed buildings to avoid using fossil fuels for heating, and require the state to swap some of its vehicles for electric cars. Christine Condon/The Baltimore Sun
JOTF pushes access bills for jobs, transportation and justice reform – Our progressive allies at the Job Opportunities Task Force are focused on bills in the Assembly session that would enhance Marylanders’ chances to get and keep good jobs through transportation access, lowering barriers to hiring success, and justice reform. Here is their 2022 legislative agenda.
Opinion: MD ballot question on pot legalization should be “self-executing”-- A leader of the national Marijuana Policy Project (and former Illinois state senator) argues “Maryland should learn from New Jersey’s experience, as it is the only other state that has taken the constitutional amendment route to legalize cannabis. New Jersey’s voters approved legalization on the ballot in 2020, but unfortunately, the will of the people alone did not immediately make cannabis legal. The legislature still had to come back and implement a law months later.
Not only was this confusing for the average resident who saw a news cycle that celebrated a cannabis legalization victory when cannabis possession remained illegal, but it also led to real damage.
In the three months between Election Day, when two-thirds of voters approved legalization, and when Gov. Phil Murphy signed implementing legislation, more than 6,000 charges for minor cannabis possession were filed.”
If the law had been “self-executing” on passage, the writer argues, these charges and the burden on courts, police and citizens could have been avoided. “The result of the delay in New Jersey should be top of mind for lawmakers — Maryland must not repeat New Jersey’s mistake,” she says in a Maryland Matters opinion article.
And now the federal front.
HCAN Valentine's Day Social Media Toolkit Valentines Day is today (Monday) and it's a great time to get together and to break up. In this case, we are urging lawmaker to show more love to patients and break up with their big Pharma donors. Please use far and wide! Find the toolkit at this link
Other HEALTHCARE -- Last week, Senators Sanders and Klobuchar introduced legislation that would empower Medicare to receive the same low prices for prescription drugs as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They spoke on the floor in support of the legislation.
Here is a synopsis of what Members of Congress are saying about lowering prescription drug prices.
Physicians for a National Health Program is launching this letter (for allied organizations) on Medicare Direct Contracting Entities to end this pilot program that uses third-party, for-profit contractors. Progressive Maryland will sign on to the letter.
The federal landscape as the week begins, from Megan Essaheb at People’s Action:
“Last Wednesday, the House passed a continuing resolution extending government funding and keeping the government open until March 11th and then proceeded to go on recess for the rest of the month. I guess it’s election season! It was also reported that Republican and Democratic appropriators are close to an agreement on topline spending numbers for funding government agencies, which means that they may be on track to pass an omnibus spending deal by March 11th, funding the government through September 30th. Republicans are demanding increased defense spending in exchange for increased domestic spending.
The Washington Post reported that White House officials are looking at crafting a new BBB package that would curb the deficit:
“White House officials have circulated internally a column by the liberal commentator Matthew Yglesias suggesting that the party could approve $500 billion in climate programs and $400 billion in health-care initiatives — and still unify behind enough tax increases so that the legislation would curb the deficit over 10 years by $800 billion. That kind of bill would probably exclude Biden’s expanded child tax credit, a key priority for fighting childhood poverty, but many Democrats believe that it would be better than the current alternative: passing nothing.”
Megan notes: “our strategy is to push for Biden and the Senate to look at which policies in BBB can actually get 50 votes--we know healthcare and Rx reform can--package those together and pass them before the year gets any later.”
Senator Manchin was interviewed on a West Virginia radio station and spoke on inflation and reiterated his demand for hearings and mark-ups on the budget reconciliation proposals, People’s Action folks also reported. He also indicated that he wants to do a tax bill first with a 25% tax rates on corporations, capital gains raised to 28% and increased taxes for the rich, including getting rid of some loopholes, particularly the carried interest loopholes that hedge funds take advantage of. He also talked about his support for taking the tax cap off of social security taxes (raising more from high-income earners) and the need for Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and the Medicare trust funds. He also said he’s willing to do something on climate change.
Issue update: GOP exploitation of overdose crisis
Republicans created a twitterstorm accusing the administration of paying for safer pipes for smoking crack or meth as part of harm reduction grants causing the administration to backtrack and go on the defensive. Republicans are likely to continue to try to make the War on Drugs an issue in the midterms arguing that Biden is not being tough enough on drug traffickers and attacking harm reduction efforts (which are research based).