News You Can Use -- activity and lack of it in Maryland's and the US government

News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngThe General Assembly session is over, peaceably and successfully, with apparently lots of winners and few losers. Having extra money will do that.

Will we say the same for our political culture after the July 19 primary settles many of our leadership questions?

News you can use, here, about the new laws and new faces, as well as what you can do about the less-than-satisfactory politics on Capitol Hill.



 

Maryland, Our Maryland -- The most high-anxiety number in Maryland politics has now stabilized at 19, as in July 19, for sure the primary date. In mostly-blue Maryland, that means many district races will be settled on that date when the winners of Democratic primaries are affirmed. A ruling last week by the state Court of Appeals rejected final appeals against a special magistrate’s finding that the map was valid. It also meant that last Friday (April 15) really was the drop-dead date for filing for office, leading to some different high-anxiety moments as last-minute candidate shuffles took place.

The General Assembly session ended just a week ago – seems like forever since then, but in fact the usual level of drama was comparatively low.

Advocacy groups put the best look on their agendas, which always get jostled or overlooked in the legislative session. The Job Opportunities Task Force declared JOTF ended the 2022 legislative session with key legislative wins on behalf of low-wage workers and job seekers in Maryland: The Time to Care Act, criminal justice and incarceration reform, transportation access and many other small moves to roll back what JOTF calls the “criminalization of poverty” were cited in their wrapup

An op-ed columnist in The Sun says the Climate Solutions Now Act that was passed over Gov. Hogan’s veto as the Assembly session ended can be transformative because of its timing. “This legislation passed at a remarkable moment in history, where clean, zero carbon technologies are finally cheaper than their polluting predecessors,” according to Sun contributor Elizabeth Embry. “Solar energy is now the ‘cheapest energy in history,’ according to the International Energy Agency, with the price of solar panels dropping 90% between 2010 and 2020. … because it is a cheaper way to make electricity. Electric vehicles, with longer ranges and improved performance, are now cheaper over a vehicle’s lifetime than internal combustion engine cars. Similarly, an electric heat pump is the most affordable way to heat and cool your home.” She cautions that the state's grid must be sourced renewably for these goals to matter, a key part of the bill.

The session: of course there were winners and losers, but as Maryland Matters points out on its scorecard, when there is a big budget surplus (thanks, feds!) sloshing around, it is easy for more winners than losers. In his last year, Gov. Hogan gets top billing as both winner and loser.

Housing: one of the broadly un-addressed problems in Maryland and the DMV is the cost of housing pricing low-income renters out of the market. This means more of our overall income dedicated to shelter (and less for everything else) as well as high-cost, long commutes to where the jobs are from where we can afford to live. A 2019 Urban Institute report called for 374,000 net new housing units between 2015 and 2030 (39% of which should be affordable to middle-income households, 38% affordable to low- income households) to adequately address the region’s affordable housing crisis. You can find out more about your local conditions with the Affordable housing indicator tool and get an update on the … well, not that great – local response in this 2021 followup. Housing is a human right and inequality in housing is an issue that your elected policymakers should be doing something about.

GROWING NUMBER OF BLACK WOMEN JOIN LOBBYING FIELD: As the first Black woman to own and manage a law practice focused on lobbying and government relations, Lisa Harris Jones is known as a trailblazer in Annapolis, inspiring other Black women to enter the field and helping open doors. The changing face of the legislature and more Black lawmakers in positions of power who opened opportunities to different people “made the broader Annapolis superstructure pay attention,” Hughes said. Maryland Matters.

Health: at last a real advance in COVID testing, maybe... a breathalyzer. But state cases are going up stealthily, and as in the rest of the country, data are lacking to tell how hard it will hit and where.

 

NATIONAL OUTLOOK AND THE FEDS

Reporter Eugene Daniels is writing in POLITICO about VP  Kamala Harris’s journeys to underserved communities that could get left out of the first infrastructure bill’s scope : “[She said] ‘Talk to me about a community that has been left behind, a rural community. Where are they going to go? How are they going to get put there?” Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser to the president, recounted to POLITICO. “Now talk to me about an urban neighborhood that has been left behind where people are renting.’”

So recently, “she was in Brandywine, Maryland, a majority Black city — though not exactly a locality at the vanguard of electoral politics — talking about EV stations and announcing the administration’s plan to make sure its [e-vehicle] charging network made it to communities like theirs.”

Daniels’ article also introduced your (probably out of touch) News you can Use compiler with a wonderful new phrase: “…administration officials contend that the symbolism of a vice presidential trip matters, and that when it’s tied with some larger announcement, it has a clear downstream upside.” Wooo…

Info from our fellow activists at national affiliate People’s Action:

Congress is still out this week; nevertheless their district offices can and should hear you.

Tell Your Senators to Cosponsor Medicare for All: Senator Bernie Sanders will reintroduce Medicare for All on May 5th. we need to ensure that as many senators as possible take a stand against greedy insurance companies. Contact Senator [INSERT NAME] today by clicking here and tell them to cosponsor Medicare for All because pople of every race and income level deserve to get care when they get sick or injured–without being terrified of a medical bill. 

 

Attend an April 23 #FightForOurFuture Earth Day event. Fight For Our Future: WASHINGTON, DC Rally for Climate, Care, Justice, and Jobs! Starts On Saturday, Apr 23 1:00pm Lafayette Square
Washington, DC 20001 RSVP – Also Saturday, Apr 23 1:00pm Maryland State House, Annapolis, RSVP

Going to be traveling? Check the map for all the demo spots around the country,, including two locations in West Virginia.

Submit comments to Senators Shaheen and Collins on insulin legislation by April 20th. Here is a fact sheet by T1 International and a take action site. 

 

If you owe, you should know…

Student debt now or never – at a recent appearance, outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki made a little news with "Between now and August 31, it’s [student loan moratorium] either going to be extended or we're going to make a decision … about canceling student debt,” she said. (POLITICO Playbook)

The White House put out a fact sheet announcing new actions to protect consumers and lessen the burden of medical debt on American families.