The new governor, Wes Moore, is moving pretty quickly to undo some of the actions (and cast loose some of the appointees) of Larry Hogan's farewell. The new Assembly begins a four-year set of voyages with a full agenda, and we have help-desk folks among our allies who can map your way to influencing the legislators in Annapolis or remotely. In other news, abortion politics are 180 degrees out of synch at Maryland's Potomac River border with West Virginia. Stay tuned.
New governor, new news… Wes Moore is not moving slowly.
New Gov. Wes Moore has pulled back a bunch of recent appointees – 48, more than double the average -- left in the wake of former Gov. Larry Hogan’s final days. So there are vacancies to fill, providing opportunities for change. Maryland Matters suggests some of the biggest changes could come with Public Service Commission members as an ambitious climate program needs to be materially managed. More generally, here are details about the Hogan appointees who will need replacing.
But the Assembly, with some new leadership, is nevertheless moving at its time-honored pace. Here are priorities for one of the most influential caucuses, one with new leadership.
Program Would Test 32-Hour Workweek: Could a three-day weekend become the norm? Maybe. At least for some workers in Maryland if the General Assembly gives the green light to a bill that creates a pilot program offering incentives to companies that cut the workweek from 40 to 32 hours — without reducing salaries. Washington Post.
The Big Picture in Annapolis Our allies at the Baltimore-based Job Opportunities Task Force have a run-down on the week(s) ahead in Annapolis. Their focus is, as always, on the cutting back the underbrush on punitive laws and fines that put working families with low incomes behind the eight-ball and could jeopardize their jobs and freedom.
The Maryland Legislative Coalition, too, has read bills so you don’t have to and present some topline proposals in the Assembly you might want to follow. What are they about? Try tax justice, criminal justice, environmental justice, election justice and gun control justice. Note that our MLC allies also have a complete calendar for the next few weeks’ hearings and a great walk-through on how to remotely attend hearings and, if you want to, testify. This separate package has more about upcoming hearings: “We have about 850 bills introduced so far. Expecting another 1,500 or so,” they say.
The Maryland state Supreme Court will hear arguments in May over whether a new tax on digital advertising violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, Pluribus News reports. An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge put the measure on hold over Commerce Clause concerns; the state Comptroller has appealed. More from a Baltimore Sun article.
Where Maryland has taken legislative action to protect reproductive rights (and may still seek to protect them permanently with a constitutional amendment) our neighbor state of West Virginia has gone in the opposite direction. That includes forbidding medicated abortion in the Mountain State – medical abortion accounts for more than half the pregnancy terminations nationwide. Companies that make “abortion pills” have sued in West Virginia and elsewhere to affirm that the FDA’s approval of medicated abortifacients supersedes state law. Are there closed borders in our future?
We think the DC area has the worst traffic anywhere. Nobody can tell us different. This survey tries to (from Pluribus News): Everybody complains about traffic, but Chicagoans get special bragging rights: A report from the transportation analytics firm Inrix released earlier this month names Chicago as the most congested urban area in America, followed by Boston, New York and Philadelphia. All that congestion costs Chicago residents an extra $2,618 per year, the report found.
FEDERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS-- National news
On the national/state interface, offshore wind is perking on both coasts, but is Maryland keeping up? Maryland Matters
Ben Jealous, who ran unsuccessfully against Larry Hogan in 2018, has been named leader of the Sierra Club, “the giant sequoia of the conservation movement” as the NY Times describes it, which has been through much turmoil in recent years involving internal racism and sexism.
Our national affiliate People’s Action is taking a victory lap because the Homes Guarantee campaign had a visible influence on last week’s Biden administration launch of a set of actions on tenant protections, and a “blueprint” for a renters bill of rights. The documents are a significant step forward though more can be accomplished with further organizing and pressure.
The corporate-ag lobbyists are circling like vultures as the five-year renewal of the Agriculture (Farm) Bill hits the congressional committee circuit next week. Food & Water Watch has a primer on how to keep Big Ag from hegemony over the food we eat and its cost and safety.
And finally, this extraordinarily good reason for states to gang up on footloose billionaires. WaPo
The nonprofits Maryland Matters and Maryland Reporter are critical sources for the News You Can Use, along with Pluribus News, Streetsblog, Route Fifty, Utility Dive, Conduit Street and many other newsletters.
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