Navigating the legislative tangle, here in Maryland and in DC

apocalypse.jpgThe good news is that Maryland wages are going up fast. The bad news is that state and local governments won’t be able to stay competitive because of their lumbering process. “But rising wages — propelled by an unusual churn in the workforce — are going to make it “incredibly difficult” for state and local governments to attract and retain talent, MM reporter Bruce DePuyt reports. It could take activism and pushback to make sure local governments don’t fall short in providing public services.

Who is responsible for actually thinking ahead, making plans, keep the state on an even keel? The usual suspects in the State House. Let's keep an eye on them and make sure we don't just hear the forlorn sound of a can being kicked down the road... our path to reminding the legislators who they work for begins here. Read on... we have action plans to work on the gridlock in Congress too...



 

It's so depressing in Congress that it feels actually GOOD to take on the General Assembly first, where stuff might happen. After that we'll dim into the gloom at both ends of Pennsylvania Ave...

The good news is that Maryland wages are going up fast. The bad news is that state and local governments won’t be able to stay competitive because of their lumbering process. “But rising wages — propelled by an unusual churn in the workforce — are going to make it “incredibly difficult” for state and local governments to attract and retain talent, MM reporter Bruce DePuyt reports. It could take activism and pushback to make sure local governments don’t fall short in providing public services.

Who is responsible for actually thinking ahead, making plans, keep the state on an even keel? The usual suspects in the State House. Let's keep an eye on them and make sure we don't just hear the forlorn sound of a can being kicked down the road...

 

THE ASSEMBLY SESSION

Maryland’s General Assembly began its 90-day session for 2022 last Wednesday. The Blue-state reputation, as we know, is only partially merited – the leadership and core of the legislature’s Dem supermajority are pretty much neoliberal, and the legislative process has procedural hurdles and committee ambushes to make sure the legislators don’t, um, lose sight of the interests of the business “community” that (for now) funds their campaigns. But a progressive caucus grows steadily and aims to push bills with strong affinities to progressive priorities like health care as a human right, serious climate advances, tenant protections, and criminal justice reform. Among detailed tools for following the session, Maryland Matters explains the opening gambits and big issues (where progressives are already complaining about lack of transparency) and our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition outline the big issues on the table . Several thousand bills from trivial to existential come at us in a flurry, and it’s mano a mano for 90 days, so Maryland progressives should be paying attention and following the money.

From the Maryland Legislative Coalition, sent over the weekend: hearings coming up quickly and for the next two weeks

Maryland Matters has a primer on making our voices heard during the session. If you want to testify, seasoned lobbyists tell us to sign up early.

In the midst of COVID, what has proved to be one of the toughest problems? Keeping housing affordable so folks don't have to crowd together for shelter. Community spread can start that way.

Renters United Maryland is backing tenant protections measures, arguing renters and lawmakers alike have realized that, even amid a pandemic, localities lack the complete tool set to keep renters housed. Bills to be pushed include local options to pass “just cause” eviction bills (right now landlords don’t have to give a reason); ensuring that landlords bringing eviction actions are licensed (many slip through); and funding the law that gives right to counsel to tenants faced with eviction actions.state_house_image_wikimedia_commons.jpg

The Maryland League of Women Voters has chimed in with a new affordable housing working paper that notes these pieces of the puzzle: “For the 2022 Legislative Session, affordable housing proponents have pre-filed legislation to protect tenants.

HB134 Failure to Pay Rent Proceedings - Prohibition on Rent Increases and Sealing of Court Records

SB6 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022)

Preventing unnecessary foreclosures and home loss, protecting the rights of tenants, and providing equitable homeownership opportunities, housing and community development partners can prevent the COVID crisis from further devastating the fragile home ownership ecosystem.”

Activists at recent progressive conclaves have suggested there might not be that much action on policing and criminal justice reform in this session -- still one of our top priorities. It's possible that juvenile justice protections package will emerge on the Senate side.

Nevertheless issues Progressive Maryland and other restorative justice advocates will push include wider and better body camera use; a focus on crisis units for mental health issues and funding to prepare state infrastructure for the July 2022 launch of the national 988 mental health crisis hotline; separating police from automated traffic enforcement; and a lawyer’s presence during interrogation of juveniles.

 

IN CONGRESS (eeew)

Manchin and Sinema keep making it about them, and that keeps us short of a filibuster carve-out for 50+1 victories on preserving elections and the Build Back Better "social infrastructure" package.

People's Action has a fighting view on electoral justice

"Republicans are using the filibuster to stall while they gut fair elections and fair voting districts at the state level. If we don’t pass federal legislation to stop it, the GOP will silence the will of the majority and rig the 2022 and 2024 elections.

"We can’t let a small minority of senators stop the Senate from even voting on legislation to protect free and fair elections.

Call your Senators now and tell them to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act!

"Yesterday's MLK holiday was a solemn reminder that the fight to protect the sacred right to vote is far from over. Last year, 19 states passed 34 laws putting up deliberate barriers to the ballot box to silence our voices.

"This year, in states across the country, extremist lawmakers and dark money groups are restricting our freedom to vote, using partisan gerrymandering to draw congressional districts that deny people fair representation, and are planning to attempt future election sabotage."

On Build Back Better's stall-and-bawl situation, POLITICO Playbook reports a split on how tight the package should be.

Today's Playbook:

Front-line House Democrats, eager to boost their prospects in November, are urging party leadership to break up Build Back Better into a series of votes on popular planks — even if it means giving up on one grand bill (and even if those bills have no shot of becoming law). But WaPo’s Marianna Sotomayor reports that leadership has been cool to the idea so far, while some front-liners want to focus more on selling the infrastructure law and other accomplishments.

“The tension was surfaced in a meeting early this month with House Majority Leader STENY H. HOYER (D-Md.), the second-highest ranking member of their caucus. Members pushed back when Hoyer, reflecting the continued view of House leadership, argued that breaking up the spending bill would mean abandoning the potentially transformative giant package, which he said still has a chance of passage.

“‘I don’t care,’ Rep. SUSAN WILD (D-Pa.) shot back, telling Hoyer that House Democrats should spend the year sending bills to the Senate with the hope that bipartisan deals could be reached on issues important to a broad range of voters. The meeting was described by two members on the call, who spoke anonymously to discuss private talks.”

Do we ever stop saying "stay tuned?"...