NUCU_logo_new.pngMost of what we see going on in Maryland is pretty much housekeeping as Wes Moore continues to put some shape on a successful but haphazard Assembly session. Other legislative outcomes, especially in red states, are scarier. And the just-finished elections for the European Parliament, though disconnected from any national elections, show a scary authoritarian trend too, as we hear from People's Action. Struggles are ahead, no doubt. Information improves your luck, so give a look at our News You Can Use collection every week, just to keep up.

 

HERE IN MARYLAND

Deep Shipping Channel Set To Open Today: The reopening of Baltimore’s 50-foot deep, 700-foot wide shipping channel has been tentatively scheduled for Monday, U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak said on Saturday afternoon.  Baltimore Sun. And Meanwhile: Transportation Dept. Studying How To Protect Bay Bridge: As a result of the Dali container ship destroying the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the Maryland Transportation Authority is studying “short and long-term options to protect the Bay Bridge,” said its chief engineer, James Harkness. “The Bay Bridge is safe and we are just looking to make it as safe as we can.”  Baltimore Sun.

 

Maryland In Middle In Childhood Well-Being: Maryland ranked in the middle of the pack when it comes to the overall well-being of children, and improvements are still needed, according to a report released Monday. The 2024 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranked Maryland 22nd among states, one place lower than last year and three spots lower than the report from two years ago. Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter – note in our feds section below that US infant mortality rate continues to compare poorly to other advanced societies.

 

Study Finds Red Line Could Save Commuters’ Times: A new study based on mathematical simulations found that the Red Line could save commuters from West and East Baltimore an estimated seven to 21 minutes on their daily work commutes. WYPR-FM.

 

Home-Grown Energy Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Friday signed an agreement with the federal government to increase offshore wind development in the coming years. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has completed environmental assessments of two lease areas that would provide energy for up to 2.2 million homes. (Baltimore Sun) via Pluribus – but This Comes at A Tough Time for Wind Power Development. As we in Maryland know, offshore wind projects have taken a hit because accelerating costs, permitting problems and public resistance caused some big players in the field to drop out. “The country is now adding less wind capacity each year than before the [Inflation Reduction Act] was passed. A big whole-industry take here from the NY Times.


Maryland’s Complete Streets Policy Aims for a Safer System for All Users:
2024 isn’t even halfway over, but it’s been a pretty good year for transit and Complete Streets in Maryland. Meaningful legislation embodying the principles of the movement, which attempts to bring a more multimodal, less autocentric, and more bike/pedestrian friendly approach to transportation, made its way through the state’s General Assembly this past spring, But in terms of direct tangible impact, the new statewide Complete Streets policy announced on June 6 by the Maryland Department of Transportation might have them all beat. Greater Greater Washington via Streetsblog

 

Maryland’s Housing Shortage Equals Housing Crisis: What Sweden is Doing: An American dream of housing became a reality in Sweden. The U.S. once looked to modular construction as an efficient way to build lots of housing at scale, but Sweden picked up the idea and put it into practice. Architect Ivan Rupnik thinks the solution to America’s affordable housing shortage is obvious: Build more houses. Start today. But the way homes are built in the United States makes speed impossible. Years ago, Rupnik’s Croatian grandmother, an architect herself, pointed him to an intriguing answer to this conundrum: modular housing projects built in Europe in the 1950s and ’60s. NY Times

 

Audit Finds State-Run Psychiatric Hospital Recordkeeping Inadequate: A legislative audit found that five state-run psychiatric facilities failed to provide adequate recordkeeping and financial documentation for payroll adjustments, as well as inadequate verification of the disposal of highly controlled drugs, among other issues. The audit is the latest of several reports dinging the Department of Health for “unsatisfactory” or “pervasive lack of documentation,” that have led to financial woes for the agency. Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter

 

HATE CRIMES ON THE RISE, STATE UNVEILS REPORTING PORTAL: As reported hate crimes continue to rise in Maryland, the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office has unveiled a new online portal where victims and witnesses can report information that will be used to track the crime and identify trends. The site, nohomeforhate.md.gov, comes as the number of hate crimes in the state has been steadily increasing, from 388 in 2021 to 465 in 2022, according to the most recent report from Maryland State Police. The 2022 numbers were three times higher than the 155 hate crimes reported in 2014.The portal can be used anonymously by victims and witnesses of hate crimes, but officials caution that it does not replace a police report. Maryland Matters

 

The Maryland Insurance Administration Will Open Its Virtual Disaster Center on Tuesday, June 11, to help anyone with insurance-related issues or questions regarding damage from recent tornado and severe storm events. Registration is not required. In the Virtual Disaster Center, Maryland residents can ask general insurance questions or meet one-on-one with a Maryland Insurance Administration representative in a private breakout room. For tips on what to do after a severe weather event, please see MIA’s Consumer Advisory: After the Storm. Conduit Street, Maryland Association of Counties – and speaking of disasters: 28: The number of natural disasters in the United States that caused at least $1 billion in damage in 2023. There have been 102 billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. over the last five years, double the number that took place across all of the 1990s. (Stateline) via Pluribus

 

 

IN THE OTHER FORTY-NINE

 

At least 35: The number of states where wild hogs have appeared, after their introduction by Spanish settlers in the 1500s. “We’re not gonna barbecue our way out of this,” said John Mayer, a research scientist at Savannah River National Laboratory. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) via Pluribus

MARIJUANA: New Hampshire House and Senate conferees have reached a compromise agreement on marijuana legalization, setting up a final vote next week. The compromise reflects most of what the Senate wanted, creating a state-run market similar to the New Hampshire Liquor Control Commission’s oversight of wine and spirits. (Boston Globe) via Pluribus -- New Hampshire is the only New England state that doesn’t have a recreational marijuana market.

MORE: The North Carolina Senate unanimously passed legislation barring the use of masks in public while engaging in criminal activity. Legislators negotiated with Democrats to add an exception for those who use masks to prevent the spread of disease. (Associated Press)

RANKED CHOICE VOTING: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has signed legislation erecting new barriers to ranked-choice voting. The bill requires a dozen counties to use ranked-choice voting before it can be adopted statewide. (Denver Post) Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has established a working group to explore ranked-choice voting. (Associated Press)

 

MORE: A new Fox News poll shows 70% of Arizona voters intend to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights. (Fox News) via Pluribus

 

FLORIDA: Yet another Fox News poll shows 66% of voters favor a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The poll found 69% back an amendment that guarantees the right to an abortion up until fetal viability. (Fox News) Those numbers are significant: Florida law requires a 60% majority to pass amendments.

 

Quote of the Day (from Pluribus): As touched and as grateful beyond words that I am to be given this award, part of me wishes that it did not exist, and that political courage did not have to be a thing.” Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (R), accepting the John F.  Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for defending the integrity of his state’s elections. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

 

 

NATIONAL STUFF AND THE FEDS

 

Further disillusioning climate activists, the Biden administration is backing off of its aggressive proposed increases in fuel efficiency standards. (Politico)

Get on Board with Regional Rail, NCSL Offers “The federal government is investing billions of dollars to develop and improve regional passenger rail across the country.” The National Conference of State Legislatures presents a webinar-style primer on “how states can successfully secure federal funding and what they can do to encourage the development of local and regional passenger rail and the interconnection it can offer. Hello MARC, are you listening?

 

For the inside scoop on federal and congressional action we count on People’s Action federal affairs director Megan E, and here’s her report this week:

Last week, President Biden signed an executive order to restrict asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border; he’s seeking to look “tougher” on immigration. The order “will restrict and halt the number of migrants able to cross into the United States.” Once a daily cap of 2,500 per day over a seven-day average has been reached, it will allow officials to swiftly deport other people seeking to enter the U.S. without a visa. It would take effect immediately as crossings already surpass these numbers. The southern border would reportedly reopen only when that number falls to 1,500 or below. 

 

From the Guardian: “Some Democrats have assailed the order as essentially a revival of the Trump administration’s asylum ban, which was struck down by federal courts. Biden also criticized the measure when he was a candidate for president.” Groups are planning to sue and it may be struck down. 

 

The big news over the weekend is that far-right parties in Europe did very well in the European Union’s parliamentary elections. While European elections are a bit removed from US federal affairs, this development relates to People’s Action’s major goal of defeating authoritarianism. The centrist, liberal and Socialist parties will still retain a majority in the 720-seat parliament, but Germany & France, major powers in the EU’s delegations, shifted to the right, with Germany’s Social Democrats performing their worst ever and France’s President Emmanuel Macron calling for French parliamentary elections in order to try to reestablish his authority. Reuters reports that observers attribute “the shift to the right to the rise in the cost of living, concerns about migration and the cost of the green transition as well as the war in Ukraine -- worries that nationalist and populist parties have seized on.” There are obvious parallels to domestic politics in the U.S. 

 

Also in foreign affairs, the only centrist minister in Israel’s governing coalition, Benny Gantz, has resigned, leaving Netanyahu’s government further to the right. Gantz and his party had presented Netanyahu with a June 8 deadline to come up with a clear day-after strategy for Gaza and Netanyahu refused. Gantz called on Netanyahu to schedule elections for the fall and Gantz may be his most prominent opposition. 

 

This week in Congress: 

Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) will hold a hearing in the Budget Committee titled, “Making Wall Street Pay Its Fair Share: Raising Revenue, Strengthening Our Economy,” where renowned economics Joseph Stiglitz and our ally Sarah Anderson with the Institute for Policy Studies will testify. 

The House will try to pass its partisan National Defense Authorization Act and Senate will begin to work on theirs. 

From Punchbowl News: “The House Judiciary and Oversight committees are demanding that Attorney General Merrick Garland turn over the audiotapes of Biden’s interviews with Special Counsel Robert Hur as part of the Biden impeachment inquiry. DOJ has handed over transcripts of these interviews but not the audiotapes. Now, the House is preparing for floor votes on contempt resolutions against Garland this week.”

The Senate will hold a vote on IVF in order to force Republicans to take a position on the issue. 

The Federal Reserve will decide whether to raise interest rates this week. 

People’s Action’s Care Over Cost campaign had two members interviewed and a quote related to delays and denials of care in privatized Medicare called Medicare Advantage in this great Guardian article last week. The campaign is working with progressive Democrats on legislation that would end overpayments to private insurance companies and lower out of pocket costs in traditional Medicare which would encourage more people to choose traditional Medicare and greatly reducing delays and denials of care. 

 

ISSUE UPDATE: ELECTIONS

White House memo on Corporate Price Gouging   -- or, why inflation is dropping but prices are staying high.

Biden-Harris housing fact sheet 

 

From Politico: “Many high-dollar donors at banks, hedge funds and other financial firms had turned their backs on Trump as he spun unfounded claims that the 2020 election had been stolen and savaged the judicial system with attacks. Today, they’re setting aside those concerns, looking past qualms about his personality and willingness to bulldoze institutional norms and focusing instead on issues closer to the heart: how he might ease regulations, cut their taxes or flex U.S. power on the global stage.”

 

“Trump is in his second week on TikTok, and already soaring past Biden in both followers and views.”

 

 “UAW FOR OSBORNE — The United Auto Workers are endorsing independent DAN OSBORN’s Senate bid in Nebraska. The backing from UAW President SHAWN FAIN is a boost to the mechanic, who rose to public attention as a union and strike leader and is mounting an uphill bid to unseat GOP Sen. DEB FISCHER. No Democrat is running, but Osborn has spurned endorsements from any political party, making the support from organized labor more important.”

 

“At his Vegas rally, Trump made some substantive policy news: He said he would end taxes on tipped income if he returns to the White House. That could be a powerful pitch to service industry workers in Nevada.”

 

ISSUE UPDATE: CLIMATE

Column: Gavin Newsom is a climate champion. Why did he just crush community solar?

Thursday's vote by the California Public Utilities Commission was the latest stain on the governor's record.

 

ISSUE UPDATE: HEALTHCARE

US maternal mortality rate far higher than in peer nations, report finds

Alarming disparities persist, particularly between white and Black mothers, according to new report by Commonwealth Fund

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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...