Maryland and the US -- landscape for change, and news you can use.

not_bluffing.jpgOur leverage for peace seems limited, especially this morning, but we can work for justice here in Maryland and in the nation because when justice is done, peace is more likely. News you can use from Maryland and the progressive-possible landscape in the US are just below:



 

First, here in Maryland:

New and important Tuesday afternoon:The Maryland State Board of Education voted Tuesday to rescind its statewide mask mandate and allow local school system to set mask polices for their schools.A state legislative committee must approve the decision before it takes effect, [and the state board included "off-ramps"] but the vote was cheered by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has pushed for the board to rescind its mandate.

Monday's news: ADVOCATES PUSH FOR PAID FAMILY LEAVE: Several dozen people, holding green glow sticks and purple signs, gathered on Lawyers’ Mall on Monday evening urging lawmakers to pass a bill this year that would offer paid family leave to all Marylanders. Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters. Progressive Maryland members were part of the crowd and we also need folks to submit testimony on healthcare legislation! If you want to learn more come to the Happy Hour Testimony Training this Friday; contact Patty or Malcolm for info

 

Also Monday: OPINION: BUILD BACK BETTER FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS, ROADS: President Biden’s Build Back Better plan has brought national attention to our aging infrastructure. That is good, but critical infrastructure is a core responsibility of our state and county governments, and it is time they lived up to that responsibility. Angie Boyter/Maryland Reporter.

See also our warning from, well, last November:

[Nationally,] rural leaders worry that they lack the staff and matching dollars to compete with bigger cities for their fair share of the bounty.

…Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center for Rural Affairs, observed that “in many circumstances there isn’t the internal infrastructure to accept federal money, develop ideas for how it could be spent, develop regulations for how it should be spent, and go ahead and implement it.” Also this further consideration of the problem

And... Susan Olson, a Dorchester County activist, writes in Maryland Matters that the effort to amend the Maryland Constitution to protect the rights of everyone to a clean environment is necessary because, yar after year, "any environmental rights we assume we have are not being enforced. That is why we need a Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment."

The General Assembly -- what is coming up: The Maryland Legislative Coalition checks off the top social justice and pro-equality bills including climate, criminal justice, medical debt relief, cannabis legalization equity and life support (that is, food stamps) for college students. More generally, here's the busy hearing sked for the next few weeks. Bills filed: less than last year, but still about 2,500 (!)  

 

News from late last week: 

STATE's 'CLEAN ENERGY' NOT SO CLEAN: Around 35% of Maryland’s “clean energy” in 2020 came from controversial renewable energy sources such as trash incinerators, landfills and woody debris burned in power plants and paper mills, according to a recent report. Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters.

COURT BACKS HOGAN IN CHALLENGE TO EXECUTIVE ORDER: A software engineer and former Maryland legislator lacked standing to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order requiring those bidding on state contracts to pledge they are not boycotting Israel and will not while under contract, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. Steve Lash/The Daily Record. (may have paywall)

MARYLAND NAVIGATES TO KEEP COMMANDERS HERE: Maryland power brokers are quietly marshaling hundreds of millions of dollars to entice the Washington Commanders to keep their stadium in Landover, three people familiar with the process said. The Commanders seek more than a new stadium, pitching to officials in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. for years a vision to build a multibillion-dollar sports-entertainment destination that would accommodate homes, commercial businesses, retail, possibly sports-betting and more. Erin Cox/The Washington Post. We can't wait to hear why that team's odoriferous management deserves a break from Maryland; the WaPo has already opined that "Daniel Snyder doesn’t deserve the sweetheart deal Virginia lawmakers want to give him".

 

MD Matters roundup Just days before two legislative committees are set to hear a bill that would require the Maryland pension system to consider climate change as a financial factor when making investment decisions, environmental groups have released a study showing that the state has sacrificed millions of dollars in potential returns by investing in fossil fuel companies responsible for the climate crisis.

WTOP’s Matt Small reports on teacher burnout poll

Large class sizes, high levels of stress, exhausting burnout and staffing shortages are taking a toll on an overwhelming majority of teachers across Maryland, a poll has found.

The Maryland State Education Association said “a crisis with unmanageable workloads, attrition among peers, and failure to hire enough staff in all school positions” is so prevalent that educators are more likely to leave the profession or retire early.

An exasperated Prince George’s resident fumes about the waste of public money entailed by the County Council majority’s appeal of its loss on a controversial alternative redistricting map

On the national scene: The close call we hardly knew about, noted in passing by our allies at People’s Action: “Despite Republican Senators’ efforts to delay passage over harm reduction grant programs and forcing a vote on defunding vaccine mandates, the Senate passed the continuing resolution funding the government until March 11th last Thursday averting a government shutdown.” 

Larry Hogan is having trouble ramming tax cuts for the rich through the Dem Assembly; the tax committees are looking to help the more deserving. But everybody’s got tax cut fever – nationally -- because many states didn’t suffer big revenue shortfalls during COVID despite expectations, and the question appears to be cuts for whom? (POLITICO)

National Climate Landscape: Upsides, downsides… “ The Washington Post reported that the failure to pass the Build Back Better Act’s climate provision “has frozen hundreds of billions of dollars in private capital, according to analyses by industry groups and nonpartisan analysts, and complicated America’s much-touted clean energy revolution.. Megan Essaheb at People’s Action reports. Further…

“From Politico: The Interior Department this weekend paused all decisions about new federal oil and gas drilling following a Trump-appointed judge’s injunction that blocked the administration’s efforts to consider the social cost of carbon in its decision-making, NYT’s Lisa Friedman reports  DOJ is appealing the controversial decision, which is a major setback for the administration’s attempts to curtail climate change. But in the meantime, in what Friedman calls “an ironic twist, the fallout from the judge’s ruling — at least initially — is that the federal government has stopped work on new oil and gas leases, as well as permits to drill on federal lands and waters.”

Housing: No surprise for renters – “AP reports that rent prices rose nearly 20% in 2021 an increasing driver of inflation.” And The Washington Post did an analysis of investor purchased homes in 2021 in 40 metro areas and found private equity and hedge funds piling into both single family and multifamily housing, another driver of rent and home price inflation. Because profit.

Opioid/overdose crisis: As the Biden folks pursue harm reduction policies to combat overdoses, GOP dog-whistle specialists are working overtime to re-insert racist and punitive policies instead, as this People’s Action news release outlines and this NY Times article backgrounds.

And, speaking of our national affiliate allies People's Action, this was POLITICO Playbook's lead "Transition" this morning: "Sulma Arias will be executive director of People’s Action and People’s Action Institute. She previously was director of immigration and power building for Community Change and Community Change Action." It's a bit of a homecoming; get more in the PA release,