For Maryland, even with federal help promised, getting through the loss of both the Port of Baltimore and a major piece of our traffic availability is a heavy, heavy lift. News You Can Use has, well, overloaded on that topic, trying to build context with both local and more distant sources. But as always there is more – the home stretch for the General Assembly session complicated by Topic A, what is going down in other states, and the report on federal activity, brought to you by our strong-stomached experts so the rest of us can, well, look away. For better or worse, it’s News You Can Use.


April 1, but no foolin’ this week – losing the Key Bridge is a big blow with a long timeline on the road back. Here is a fleet of news stories to keep you up to date


Moore Warns Of ‘Very Long Road Ahead’ As Feds Ok $60 Million In Aid: Maryland Gov. Wes Moore warned Thursday of a “very long road ahead” to recover from the loss of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge as the Biden administration approved $60 million in immediate federal aid after the deadly collapse. Massive barges carrying cranes streamed toward the site to begin the challenging work of removing twisted metal and concrete as a first step toward reopening a key shipping route blocked by the wreckage of the span. AP and WBAL TV 

The Five Minutes That Brought Down the Francis Scott Key Bridge

When a massive cargo ship lost power in Baltimore, crews scrambled to control the ship and to evacuate the bridge lying ahead. But it was too late. A “tick-tock from the New York Times with a detailed timeline.

State Lawmakers Scramble To Help Port Workers And Businesses: The General Assembly is quickly approaching an end-of-session deadline but lawmakers are still scrambling to introduce legislation in response to this week’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), are working on an emergency bill that would assist workers and businesses at the Port of Baltimore who are affected by the indefinite halt of boat traffic. Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter

“The Key Bridge Is Us”: Two days after the Key Bridge’s collapse, residents of Dundalk and the nearby communities of Turner Station and Sparrows Point are mourning the workers who died – one of whom lived in Dundalk. They’re also fearful for what the future will hold for their many neighbors who work at the Port of Baltimore. But in all the tragedy and uncertainty that has followed the collapse, longtime residents of the communities surrounding the bridge are grieving the loss of the structure itself, which has been a fixture in the Baltimore skyline for close to 50 years. Baltimore Sun

Punchbowl News quotes Bloomberg (paywalled): “Baltimore Ship Accident Has East Coast Ports Scrambling to Absorb Cargo -- Facilities adjust hours, communications to serve rail, trucks… Economists see global trade weathering supply disruption. US East Coast ports are modifying their operations to absorb cargo diverted from Baltimore harbor, where salvage specialists are starting to clear debris from the destroyed Francis Scott Key Bridge and authorities are establishing a temporary channel to reopen traffic.”

Hundreds  Of Md. Bridges Are ‘Fracture Critical’: The design of the Key Bridge was not the reason it collapsed when the massive container ship, the Dali, slammed into one of the bridge’s main support piers on Tuesday morning, but it helps explain why the structure gave way within seconds after impact. The Key Bridge was one of only 17,000 bridges in the country, about 3%, characterized as having a “fracture critical” design, meaning if one portion sustained enough damage, the entire structure would collapse. Baltimore Banner

Baltimore Needs The Supply Chain More Than The Other Way Around: While the Baltimore region is grappling with a crisis that could put thousands out of work and cost millions of dollars in economic activity, experts say the supply chain is pivoting — and doing it fast. Baltimore Banner


Biden Admin Promises Funds To Rebuild The Bridge: The Biden administration is prepared to provide federal funding to cover costs following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday in a White House press briefing. Capital News Service/

Gov. Wes Moore Urges Congress To Pass Legislation To Support The Port Of Baltimore and the rebuilding of the Key Bridge to benefit the small businesses throughout the country that depend on products that come through the port for their livelihoods. The Weekend/MSNBC.

Officials Are Planning to Resume Limited Maritime Traffic Around The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. The captain of the port is preparing to establish a temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel for commercially essential vessels.  Baltimore Sun.

The Personal & State Economic Costs of Closing the Port: To re-open the Port of Baltimore to vessel traffic, authorities will need to clear the shipping channel. To clear the shipping channel, the massive, stuck cargo ship will need to be freed. For the ship to be freed, the fallen steel bridge, weighing it down, will need to be removed. Recovery from disaster is complex and cumbersome. The White House has promised to replace the Key Bridge. But first, authorities will seek to restore the economically critical shipping channel that leads to the port, an essential nexus of commerce. Baltimore Sun.

The Suspension Of Shipping Traffic In And Out Of The Port is directly impacting thousands of jobs and about $2 million in wages every day, said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday. Last year, the port handled more than 50 million tons of foreign cargo worth $80 billion, according to state officials. Gov. Wes Moore said about 8,000 dock workers would be affected. Hugo Kugiya/The Baltimore Banner.

Tradepoint Atlantic on Sparrows Point is the only major shipping site within the Port of Baltimore that lies outside the Francis Scott Key Bridge. A decade ago, it was an industrial graveyard, the site of a shuttered steel plant. Today, it is a rapidly expanding logistics center that is trying to once again become the economic engine of the Baltimore region. Now, it faces its greatest challenge.  Baltimore Banner.

A Key Marylander is On Board For The Emergency: “one of [Biden’s] top advisers is uncommonly equipped to be the White House’s chief eyes and ears for everything that’s happening on the ground and in the water in Maryland: Tom Perez.” Maryland Matters

Bridge Collapse Worsens State Transportation Picture: Even before the collapse of an iconic piece of Maryland infrastructure Tuesday, finding the money needed to sustain the state’s critical transportation network was the largest hang-up left in the General Assembly session barreling toward its finish line. The crash that took down the Francis Scott Key Bridge has only added to the complexity. Baltimore Sun.

In 1980, Key Bridge Survived Cargo Vessel Strike: The Key Bridge was also hit by a wayward cargo vessel in 1980. On Aug. 29 of that year, a container ship named the Blue Nagoya drifted into a pier that supported the structure, the Francis Scott Key Bridge, after losing control about 1,800 feet away, according to a 1983 report by the U.S. National Research Council. When the Blue Nagoya hit the Key Bridge, it destroyed some protective concrete, yet did not topple the structure. So what was different this time? New York Times.

Key Bridge Was First Proposed As A Tunnel: The Francis Scott Key Bridge wasn’t supposed to be a bridge at all. In the mid-1960s, with the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel regularly clogged with traffic, the state highway agency recommended completing the Baltimore Beltway’s loop by connecting Sollers Point and Fort Armistead with a second, two-lane tunnel underneath the Patapsco. But, when the tunnel costs ballooned, a four-lane bridge reemerged as a cheaper alternative and the project changed course in 1971. Baltimore Banner.


And Before We Ever Heard of the Dali, This was the News: This week Governor Moore introduced a late supplemental budget, including multiple adjustments to State education funding to reflect revised student enrollment data. The net effect is an increase of around $13m in net funding from the State to school systems; however, an as-yet-unavailable change in each county's required school funding is arising from the new enrollment count. This makes the second straight year that counties - already deep into their own budget process - will find school funding mandates to be a moving target constituting a huge share of its funding obligations.

Conduit Street (MaCo)

Advocates Seek End To Incineration Subsidy: The state classes trash-to-energy plants, like Wheelabrator’s BRESCO incinerator in South Baltimore, as a form of renewable energy – making them eligible for millions of dollars in subsidies despite the carbon emissions and air pollution they release. Asking why the latest bill to end this practice has not received a vote in either house of the General Assembly, advocates last week pressed legislative leaders, including Gov. Wes Moore who has taken no position on the bill. Baltimore Brew.


General Assembly Leaders Battle Over Budget, Etc. As Session’s End Nears: With just over two weeks until they adjourn for the year, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson and their respective chambers are battling over the budget and a few other major policy areas while — as usual for the fully Democratic legislature — largely agreeing on most of the thousands of bills moving toward the finish line. Haggling over the ballooning budget deficit is the most contentious issue facing lawmakers in the crunch time of this year’s 90-day session. But it’s not the only topic on the list of unfinished business. Baltimore Sun

Ongoing Funding Challenges for Education Blueprint: In a second set of Blueprint documents submitted in March, officials of each school system provide an overview of the challenges they face in carrying out the education reform plan for the next year. This comes as General Assembly leaders continue work on the $63 billion state budget. Legislative budget analysts have warned a budget deficit is looming starting in fiscal 2026 at $1 billion and that, two years after that, it could increase to $3 billion. Part of the reason for the anticipated deficit is fulfilling the requirements in the 10-year, $3.8 billion Blueprint plan. Maryland Matters.


House Finally Passes Moore’s Last Housing Bill: Early in the 2024 General Assembly session, Gov. Wes Moore made clear that pushing legislation that worked to improve Maryland’s 96,000-unit housing shortage would be a top priority. But House Bill 538 lagged behind Moore’s other two housing-centered bills. The legislation finally cleared the House Thursday on a 98-36 vote, sending the bill off for Senate consideration mere days before the end of the legislative session on April 8. Maryland Matters

Environmental Groups Have Dropped Their Opposition to legislation aimed at attracting data centers to Maryland. The new bill would direct 15% of tax revenues generated by data centers to a Strategic Energy Investment Fund meant to promote clean energy and climate programs. The data center bill has been a top priority of Gov. Moore. (Maryland Matters) via Pluribus



Public Health: The Louisiana House has approved legislation that would fine hospitals, public agencies and employers up to $50,000 for mandating Covid-19 vaccines. The bill would bar employers from enforcing mask mandates, with exceptions for hospitals, nursing facilities and prisons. (Baton Rouge Advocate) via Pluribus

Florida: The state Supreme Court will issue rulings Monday over whether ballot measures that would expand abortion access and allow recreational marijuana will be included on November’s ballot. Both proposals have collected about a million signatures, but Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) challenged the wording of each measure. (Tampa Bay Times) via Pluribus




Senate At An ‘Impasse’ Over Restoring Child Tax Credit --Republicans in the chamber oppose the way the credit is calculated, making the passage of the tax package approved by the House in February uncertain. (Route Fifty) BUT BUT BUT…. How The Sausage Is Made: “How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care,” by NYT’s Catie Edmondson: “Tucked into the $1.2 trillion spending law Congress cleared last week was an additional $1 billion for a single year for child care and early education programs. … Previous leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful perches in Congress, have historically used their pens to steer funding to their own priorities — usually to benefit their home states. … For [Patty] Murray, the first woman to helm the committee, it is child care, an issue that historically has had few powerful constituencies on Capitol Hill.” POLITICO Playbook

And here is the federal roundup from People’s Action fed affairs director Megan E:

Last week, the U.S. abstained in a vote on a U.N. Security Council measure calling for an immediate cease-fire and an immediate release of all hostages in Gaza. This is the first of its kind that Washington has not vetoed. The resolution passed 14 - 0. Netanyahu responded by canceling a senior delegation to the U.S. that was invited to listen to U.S. concerns about Israel’s planned push into Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. Vice President Kamala Harris has warned against a military operation in Rafah. And over the weekend, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu resign or call elections.

The Biden administration announced that it would attach a 10% cap on rent increases for properties benefit under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which would apply to over a million homes. While the impact of this rule is limited since the housing that receives this credit is already mostly restricted from large rent increases, it’s a major step forward for the Biden administration to attach a rent cap to housing subsidies and something that the Homes Guarantee campaign has been calling for.


Issue Update: Climate

Breaking News: New England Activists Close Region’s Last Coal Plant — No Coal, No Gas

“WE WON! The only viable path forward for them has to be clean, renewable energy. Granite Shore Power may claim this is a voluntary move on their part, but we know that they’ve changed their public position on coal after the immense grassroots support for a transition to clean energy.”

Against the Wind: A Map of the Anti-Offshore Wind Network in the Eastern United States

The Climate and Development Lab, a student/faculty think tank at Brown University in Rhode Island, has released "Against the Wind: A Map of the Anti-Offshore Wind Network in the Eastern United States," which provides an unparalleled window into how fossil fuel interests are working with climate denial think tanks and community groups to obstruct offshore wind projects. These community groups have made national headlines for their opposition to projects in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.” [We wonder if they have their conventions in Ocean City].

AOC and Sanders aim to place public housing at center of Green New Deal: Proposal aims to decarbonize all of nation’s public housing units, with an investment of between $162bn and $234bn over next decade


Merkley, Huffman, Colleagues Urge EXIM BANK to Not Fund Expansion of Oil and Gas Drilling in Bahrain -  Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley & U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) led their colleagues in sending a letter to the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Board of Directors to urge EXIM not to move forward providing a long-term loan or financial guarantee over $100 million to Bapco Energies to expand

From the Nation: Why the Environmental Justice Movement Should Support the UAW Organizing Drive - A progressive version of the right’s Southern strategy could remake our politics—and ensure that the cars of the future, and the batteries they run on, are built by union labor.


Issue Update: Healthcare

The Biden administration last week announced new administrative action to crack down on junk health insurance.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Wendell Potter published this oped in Newsweek titled, “The Truth Behind Medicare (Dis)Advantage's Disinformation Campaign | Opinion.”

“As the federal government negotiates with drugmakers to lower the price of 10 expensive drugs for Medicare patients, impatient legislators in some states are trying to go even further. Leading the pack is Colorado, where a new Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board is set to recommend an “upper payment limit” for drugs it deems unaffordable.” [Maryland has one too, but Big Pharma lobbyists and lawyers have slowed it down].

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...