The new governor rules the roost as the General Assembly absorbs his list of issue asks. His focus on helping low-income people and veterans, environmental advances and bringing state employment up to speed has been welcomed by most Dems and even some of the GOP minority. Moore's priority list is getting merged with the Democratic supermajority's own priorities even as they keep one eye on revenue and available funds.
We have much more -- people joining the administration, nuts and bolts of Assembly work and how to weigh in as community members, rail networks, tunnels and cannabis markets, other infrastructure, and even trees. Join us for the News You Can Use cornucopia for this week.
Newly elected Governor Wes Moore hit several high notes in a speech with many asks. “Moore touted a public service program he aims to establish for young Marylanders, and also described restocking state government as his first mission as governor. He characterized both of these initiatives as priorities that political leaders of both parties can easily embrace.
“Service will save us,” he sloganized as he touted a new executive department to energize opportunities to chip in. Moore also talked at length about the imperative of rebuilding state government, which he suggested has been hampered by 10,000 vacancies — 6,100 alone in the executive branch.
“That means needs are not being met,” he said. “It means timelines for licensing and approvals are closer to the 19th century, than the 21st. It prevents our people from opening small businesses, from keeping our communities safe while welcoming back those who have paid their debts to society, from getting Marylanders the health care they need. “This isn’t about creating ‘big government.’ This is about creating a better one.” Maryland Matters
Laura Herrera Scott, Gov. Moore’s Choice for State Health Chief, thinks health emergencies like the pandemic won’t go away, and wonders “how do we make communities more resilient for the next time, and what does that look like? What are the things we need to put in place to help our communities stay healthy? Understanding who in your community is socially isolated, and building some kind of network to address that [and ensuring] access to food and markets.” She is awaiting Senate confirmation. WaPo
Gov. Moore has tossed some far-reaching (and potentially pricey) Priorities to the Assembly, helping low-income families with tax breaks, lower broadband costs, indexing the minimum wage to inflation, and banking access, plus a service year after high school and help for veterans and clean-energy advances. WaPo
Those priorities expressed as bills appear to have gotten wide buy-in in the Assembly, including from some Republicans in the minority. Maryland Matters
Speaking of the General Assembly, our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition tell us “Hearings are now in full swing—almost 400 in the next 2 weeks” and they have ID’d numerous progressive bills to support and keep intact through the process. See their weekly worksheet as well as their focused look at upcoming hearings in a week that sees the deadlines for new bill filings in the Senate and House.
Maryland’s struggling marijuana market sees a consolidated bill: “An omnibus bill to stand up Maryland’s legal cannabis market gives medical cannabis license holders first dibs on selling recreational cannabis and seeks to foster social equity — something lawmakers say no other state has managed to do.” WaPo
Meanwhile, Semafor reports (Thurs) “Chuck Schumer: … The Senate majority leader reportedly met with a small group of Democrats on marijuana legislation, which would likely include banking reforms to allow dispensaries to operate more freely.” [Good idea, but we were hoping Maryland would start a state bank, which could OK the marijuana transactions and have many other good features to boot.]
Top officials from Baltimore City and County held an Annapolis news conference [last}Tuesday with several lawmakers from the two jurisdictions to discuss forthcoming legislation designed to update and improve the management of regional water and sewer services. Maryland Matters
[we say “great,” but why just Baltimore “region” – is everyone satisfied with the way WSSC operates…?]
Issue Update: Housing (from People’s Action weekly roundup)Homes Guarantee Director Tara Raghuveer and tenant-leaders Davita Gatewood were on the Washington Post podcast discussing Biden’s announcement on tenant protections
Managing Maryland’s patchwork of rail systems – and funding an integrated, improved system – is again on the plate of the Assembly, which sent last year’s attempt back to the kitchen. Maryland Matters
And speaking of Amtrak – part of our rail system – Amtrak Joe B touted infrastructure money last week that will upgrade the century-old Baltimore train tunnel, “Amtrak’s biggest chokepoint between Washington and New Jersey. Trains crawl at 30 mph through its curves under West Baltimore, creating delays up and down the busy Northeast Corridor. WaPo
Counties can apply for grant money to “promote alternatives to incarceration” and reduce costs and the chance of recidivism, the Maryland Association of Counties reports. Conduit Street.
Real ID Deadline Extended To 2025: Marylanders who don’t have their REAL IDs have additional time to get the star in the upper-right corner of their state-issued licenses, which will be needed to board domestic flights and enter certain federal buildings. The new deadline is May 7, 2025. Baltimore Sun.
Politico last Wednesday reported tidbits from the midnight Jan. 31 financial filings of potential candidates for 2024. “Retirement watch is now in overdrive for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) after she raised a mere $558 in Q4, and it’s certainly gearing up for Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who raised less than $30,000… and this followup from Maryland Matters
And trees. Yes, trees. Maryland’s loss of forest cover has slowed down and some areas are actually gaining tree cover. An Assembly-commissioned study says, “All regions but Central Maryland experienced a net gain in tree canopy outside forests, indicative of forest fragmentation and tree planting. Central Maryland, representing the rapidly urbanizing Washington, D.C. suburbs, was the only region that experienced a loss of tree canopy cover from outside and within forest. The distribution of tree canopy loss is highly skewed — two counties, Montgomery and Prince George’s, accounted for more than 44% of the state’s total tree canopy loss to development. Read the whole study here.
Do you like this page?