NUCU_logo_new.pngAs usual in mid-February, the General Assembly is cooking along evaluating (usually at the committee level) various good and bad laws. Our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition provide details on when committees meet for deliberation, as well as which bills need help moving through the system and how you can make your voice heard in Annapolis or remotely. From environment to child poverty, criminal justice reform reform (yes, you heard us right) and education, the Assembly is busy making or remaking law. A lot of mischief takes place in committees, so don't take your eyes off them for long.



As usual in mid-February, the General Assembly is cooking along evaluating (usually at the committee level) various good and bad laws. Our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition provide details on when committees meet for deliberation, as well as which bills need help moving through the system and how you can make your voice heard in Annapolis or remotely.


House Bill Would Set Up Pilot Program Of Networked Geothermal Projects: A bill making its way through the Maryland General Assembly is aimed at chipping away at carbon emissions as required by state law. The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 set in motion a mandate to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2031 and to reach net-zero emissions by 2045. House Bill 397, Working for Accessible Renewable Maryland Thermal Heat, or WARMTH Act, creates a pilot program that would establish networked geothermal projects in a handful of neighborhoods across the state. /Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter


Commentary: To Meet Climate Crisis We Need More Climate Scientists: On the one hand, Americans are concerned about climate change and want measures implemented to address it; and on the other, we’re not producing enough graduates in the very fields that will guide this implementation. The University System of Maryland is uniquely positioned to produce these graduates. Commentary from Maryland Matters


Lawmakers Consider Ways to Hike Health Care Workers Wages: Maryland lawmakers are grappling with how to increase wages for long-term health workers while also keeping nursing homes and similar facilities afloat. A new bill would increase Medicaid payout rates to those businesses by 8% from 2026 to 2029, and require that at least 75% of that rate hike go to increasing pay for employees. WYPR-FM. Via Maryland Reporter


What constitutes a Living Wage? How can you calculate your household’s needs in a world full of numbers? The Economic Policy Institute has a family budget calculator for every county .


Union Leaders, Lawmakers Rally To Give More Rights To State Workers, Librarians: Over 20 pro-labor legislators gathered with members of six different unions on Thursday in Annapolis to show support for three bills that would, if passed, extend the right to unionize and collectively bargain to Maryland workers who are currently ineligible. Baltimore Sun via Maryland Reporter


Dem Lawmakers Offer Bills To Crack Down On Youth Crime: Children as young as 10 could potentially go to court for auto thefts and handgun violations, under one proposal key Democratic lawmakers detailed on Wednesday and plan to push for in coming weeks. The lawmakers propose giving Juvenile Services officers the option to route a young person’s case to court if the child is 10 to 13 years of age and accused of these or other crimes – adding them to the list of serious offenses that already can land a young person before a judge.  Capital News Service via Maryland Reporter

>>The new push follows reforms passed in 2022 that put limits on charging children with crimes, including a law that barred charging children under 13 except for certain violent crimes and kept kids under 10 years old out of the criminal legal system altogether. WaPo

>>Despite falling juvenile crime rates statewide, state Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said lawmakers had to act this year on changes to the juvenile justice system in the state. WYPR-FM via Maryland Reporter

Lawmakers Ponder Filling Legislative Vacancies: Maryland lawmakers are again targeting the process by which vacancies in the General Assembly are filled. Changing the system has been a goal of good government groups including the Maryland Public Interest Group and Common Cause Maryland for several years. Those changes have failed even as the public grows irritated with how appointments are made to fill open seats. Proponents say the current system ignores voters and must go. Maryland Matters. 1/31


Ferguson Tells Budget Panel To Use Scalpel: Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said he has instructed the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to “pull out the scalpel” as it reviews Gov. Wes Moore’s proposed fiscal 2025 budget. Moore proposed the $63.1 billion budget two weeks ago and claimed millions in “rebasing” — he deftly avoided the word cuts. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters. Md reporter


House Panel Talks Guarantee College Admission: Less than a week after a Maryland Senate committee reviewed a proposal that would require four-year public colleges and universities to guarantee admission for first-year students, a House subcommittee discussed the same issue Monday during an overall review of higher education in the state. Maryland Matters.


Moore Pushes $15m To Address Child Poverty: In 2022, approximately 160,800 Maryland children lived in poverty across the state, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center. Gov. Wes Moore (D) is pushing legislation in the 2024 session to provide $15 million in state funds to help bolster communities with higher rates of child poverty. Maryland Matters.




Rosa Parks’ Birthday Celebrated Feb. 5 as Transit Equity Day “This Transit Equity Day, we must recognize the disparities that still exist in public transportation today, declared Amalgamated Transit Union international president John Costa..” Racism continues to shape public transit. When it comes to funding public transit, we are still seeing increasingly poor service in disadvantaged communities and areas of persistent poverty where people are more likely to be transit-dependent to get to good jobs, medical appointments, groceries, and other essential services.”


Failure To Observe School Bus Stop Rules Estimated At 242,000 Times Daily As many as 242,000 vehicles illegally pass school buses daily, even in several dozen states where buses are outfitted with automatic cameras that record violations. That technology has been around for more than a decade, but enforcement is still a work in progress, Stateline reported. It’s hard to know exactly how those shortcomings have affected kids’ safety, mostly because no one really tracks deaths and injuries from cars passing stopped buses. Stateline Daily


School Absenteeism Doubled During/After Pandemic

Nearly 30% of public school students were chronically absent nationwide in the 2021-2022 school year, compared with about 16% in 2017-2018 before the pandemic, according to Attendance Works, a nonprofit that addresses chronic absences, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing a tenth or more of the school year for any reason. In addition to homes with financial or social challenges, Attendance Works director Hedy Chang said sometimes even affluent parents don’t recognize the necessity of school attendance because the pandemic and remote learning appeared to show them that “you can always make up the work.” Some school districts are hiring private companies to help address chronic absenteeism. In Maryland, several districts have hired Concentric Educational Solutions, a Baltimore-based tutoring and outreach company, to help with student engagement, according to David Heiber, founder and CEO of the company. The company is now working in 12 states, he said. States Newsroom



Police Departments Are Turning To AI To Sift Through Backlog Of Unreviewed Body-Cam Footage
Body camera video is collected but rarely reviewed. Some cities are looking to new technology to examine this stockpile of footage to identify problematic officers and patterns of behavior. Over the last decade, police departments across the U.S. have spent millions of dollars equipping their officers with body-worn cameras that record what happens as they go about their work. Everything from traffic stops to welfare checks to responses to active shooters is now documented on video. But. Most of what is recorded is simply stored away, never seen by anyone. Axon, the nation’s largest provider of police cameras and of cloud storage for the video they capture, has a database of footage that has grown from around 6 terabytes in 2016 to more than 100 petabytes today. That’s enough to hold more than 5,000 years of high definition video. A growing group of companies and researchers are offering analytic tools powered by artificial intelligence to help tackle that data problem. Propublica via Route Fifty.

COURT BACKLOGS: South Carolina's top prosecutor wants a team of traveling attorneys and investigators to help end a backlog of criminal cases across the state. At least 11,600 cases statewide involve suspects who were indicted at least three years ago and are still waiting for their day in court, according to the South Carolina Daily Gazette. Stateline Daily


By the Numbers: About 1,200 is the number of historical markers around Florida, recognizing noteworthy people and events. Just 20 of those markers are dedicated to women. A bill advancing through the House would require many more markers honoring women and their contributions to the state. (Florida Politics) VIA PLURIBUS


Five Years Later, New Hampshire’s Community Power Law Is Reshaping the Electricity Market -- The statewide community power coalition will become the state’s second-largest electrical supplier this spring after it adds another 29 communities to the program. Member towns in New Hampshire’s year-old Community Power Coalition are reaping the benefits of banding together to buy electricity on their own. As of Feb. 1, residential and small commercial customers in the coalition’s 16 active member communities will pay a base electricity rate of 8.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, a 26% reduction from their already-competitive rate of 10.9 cents per kWh. Another 29 communities are planning to enjoy the lower rate after they launch their own programs this spring, effectively making the statewide coalition the second-largest electrical supplier in the state. Energy News Network via Route Fifty




From this week’s dispatch by Megan E, federal affairs director for our national affiliate, People’s Action:

Hello People's Action!

Last week, the House passed a tax bill that paired an extension of Trump’s corporate tax breaks with an expansion of the Child Tax Credit. The Senate won’t take up the bill until March.  The Hill describes the content of the bill: “Currently, the tax credit offers a break of up to $2,000 per child, with potentially $1,600 of that being refundable. The bill would incrementally raise the amount of the credit available as a refund, increasing it to $1,800 for 2023 tax returns, $1,900 for the following year, and $2,000 for 2025 tax returns. The bill also adjusts the topline credit amount to temporarily grow at the rate of inflation.” Due to Republican opposition, the tax credit does not extend to parents with less than $2,500 in income nor will there be monthly payments as was contained in the American Rescue Plan Act (those provisions expired).

“On average, households the tax credit benefits would see a tax cut of $680 in 2023, according to the Tax Policy Center. About half of households with income under $21,000 a year would see a tax cut, and the same is true for just under a quarter of households making less than $40,500 a year. But the bill would also benefit the top 1% of income earners — those making above $980,000. Those households would see an after-tax income boost of 0.5% ($9,500) in 2023, according to the Center’s estimates.”

Congratulations to People’s Action’s Care Over Cost campaign for getting stories and quotes in this Guardian article on the Biden administration’s new prior authorization rule. Please retweet us or otherwise share the article. 


woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...