NUCU_logo_new.pngMost of the action in Annapolis, as we see below, is focused on scraping together enough revenue to cover the state's ambitious transportation and education plans, long-range.New taxes are on the table. Today is "Crossover Day," a largely made-up date by which bills need to have passed at least one chamber of the Assembly to have a good chance of passage by the session's end in about three weeks. Many advocates and corporate lobbyists got overtime (psychic rewards or actual moolah) for navigating the rapids as the Assembly plowed through a weekend of work to see favorite bills make it out of committees or get successful floor votes. Including one about an inquiry into the use of psychedelic substances that may not have crossed your radar. Plus the off-and-on news about a federal shutdown. News You Can Use, for better or worse.



Wrestling For New State Revenues: A House committee vote Wednesday set up another battle with Senate fiscal leaders over finding new revenues this year. The House Ways and Means Committee voted 15-7 to approve House Bill 1319, which could open the door to casino-style iGaming in Maryland. The committee vote fell mostly along party lines with Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery) joining the six Republicans in opposition. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

House Dems Push $10.2B Package for Education, Transportation: Democrats in the House are pressing a nearly $1.2 billion package they say will pay for both a multi-billion expansion of education funding and a multi-billion projected shortfall in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. The package is unlikely to be warmly received in the Senate. Democrats in that chamber continue to reject any call for new gaming or broad tax increases. Updated Monday: The House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to a bill to transfer $750 million from Maryland’s toll facilities to the state Transportation Trust Fund. The vote was one of two taken Saturday on bills meant to target projected operating and transportation deficits. House Bill 1070 is part of a $1.2 billion package of toll, fee and tax increases announced by House leaders Friday.Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter

 Pre-K in Maryland: Participation Varies Widely by County

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future aims to make pre-K much more widely available to every 3- and 4-year-old in the state. This map shows that the pre-K participation rate varied widely in the state in the 2022-23 school year, ranging from a low of 20% in Carroll County to a high of 90% in Worcester County. The state measured pre-K participation as a percentage of the number of 4-year-olds in pre-K relative to kindergarten enrollment. Capital News Service

Postal Carriers, Access Protected: The Maryland Senate unanimously advanced legislation Thursday to create new criminal statutes for robbing letter carriers of the keys they use to open blue mail collection boxes. More than a dozen other states have added mail theft laws to their criminal codes in recent years. (Pluribus News)

And this: Bill Would Get Tough With Porch Pirates: Maryland lawmakers are looking to crack down on porch pirates throughout the state. Del. Karen Toles (D-Prince George’s County), introduced the Porch Piracy Act of 2024. The bill seeks to mirror federal law by making package theft a felony with imprisonment of up to five years. WBFF

Unhappy BPW OKs $425M More For Purple Line: Gov. Wes Moore and the state’s chief financial officers approved nearly half a billion dollars in extra funds for the Purple Line on Wednesday, even as they condemned the embattled project’s mounting delays and escalating costs. Nearly seven years after construction began, transit authorities returned to the Board of Public Works yet again this month, this time seeking an additional $425 million. Capital News Service

 Activists Hope This Is The Year To End Waste Burning Subsidy For years, Maryland climate activists have fought to repeal a law passed in 2011 meant to encourage the construction of new trash incinerators in Frederick County and South Baltimore, which were never built. The law subsidizes burning trash to create energy as renewable, placing it on par with wind and solar, despite the carbon emissions and air pollution it releases. The activists want to kill that subsidy and reserve the money for solar panels and wind turbines. Baltimore Sun

Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Urge Moore To Veto Bills: Advocates for criminal justice reform are urging Maryland lawmakers to make drastic changes to the recently passed juvenile justice reform measure. Respective committees from each chamber must now review some of the differences in House Bill 814 and Senate Bill 744. If lawmakers pass the legislation with what advocates call “regressive provisions,” then Gov. Wes Moore (D) should veto the bills when they come to his desk, the advocates said Thursday. Maryland Matters

How Many Housing Bills Will Pass? As the General Assembly scrambles to process bills in the waning days of Maryland’s 90-day session, renters and housing advocates are pushing for passage of measures that would ease the burden of housing insecurity across the state. Gov. Wes Moore has offered his own legislative package to address Maryland’s housing shortage, estimated at 96,000 units statewide. But addressing the housing shortage is complicated. Maryland Matters

Correctional Workers To Be Compensated After Fed Probe: Over 5,000 Maryland correctional workers will receive a $9.5 million payout, after a federal investigation found that the state tampered with their time cards. The Board of Public Works approved the deal Wednesday. WYPR-FM. The investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor covered three years under former Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Nearly 10,000 employees, including more than 5,000 in the latest payout, fell victim to a scheme where work hours were rounded to the benefit of the department. Maryland Matters.

Contract Continued With ‘Uniquely Terrible’ Prison Care Provider: Maryland extended its contract with a troubled, for-profit prison medical care provider, though top officials expressed reservations about the deal. Comptroller Brooke Lierman called the company, currently known as YesCare, a “uniquely terrible and irresponsible” company that has provided poor quality care and dodged responsibility in Maryland and across the country through bankruptcy protections.  Baltimore Banner.

MaryPIRG Finds Utilities Have Strong Influence In State Policy: A new study from the Maryland PIRG Foundation, released last week, found that the state’s monopoly utilities have undue influence in state government policymaking. They employ an army of State House lobbyists, Maryland PIRG said, and spend millions of dollars on advertising and association membership in an attempt to sway state policy. Read the report here. Maryland Matters.

Crossover Day Approaches: What Bills Have Passed One Chamber? Crossover Day in the Maryland General Assembly is today, Monday, March 18. Bills must pass at least one chamber by the end of today to have the best chance to be approved by both chambers and sent to Gov. Wes Moore for his signature to become a law. What are some of the bills that have passed at least one chamber? WYPR-FM.

More Crossover mania: Just One Busy Day The state Senate and the House of Delegates held double floor sessions and several committee meetings Friday and churned through scores of bills. It was all part of the rush before Monday’s “crossover day” — the deadline for bill to pass out of one chamber of the legislature to guarantee consideration in the other chamber. Maryland Matters’ reporting staff floods the zone…

And The Post-Weekend Session Report: Lawmakers Scramble To Meet Crossover – Today: In a dash to meet Monday’s “crossover day” deadline, the state’s House of Delegates and Senate chambers have endured marathon floor sessions to advance hundreds of bills by the week’s end. The last three weeks of Maryland’s 90-day legislative session are consequential for lawmakers who aspire to send their priority legislation to Democratic Gov. Wes Moore’s desk for his consideration. Legislators scramble to push their bills to the opposite chamber by the 69th day, or crossover, day. Baltimore Sun.

DRUGS Who Knew?   Maryland lawmakers voted almost unanimously to create a task force to investigate decriminalizing psychedelic substances. Eight other states have task forces looking into the matter. Psychedelics are legal in Oregon and Colorado. (WYPR)Via Pluribus

Bill Would Keep Juvenile Sex Offenders Out Of Public Schools: A bill to keep juvenile sex offenders out of Maryland public schools is being fast-tracked through Annapolis to make sure it can be passed before the session ends. WBFF-TV News. State Sen. Johnny Salling and state Del. Nino Mangione cross-filed the bills after they met with two mothers last month who say their toddlers were sexually abused in Harford and Baltimore counties by a teenager who attends a Baltimore City high school. Baltimore Sun

Treasurer Davis Backs Bill Limiting His Campaign Fund-Raising: Maryland Treasurer Dereck Davis (D) told a House Committee on Wednesday he “enthusiastically supports” a bill that would block him from raising campaign funds during the General Assembly session. House Bill 1503 would add the treasurer to the list of elected officials prohibited from fundraising while the legislature is in session. Maryland Matters.



IMMIGRATION: Lawmakers in more than a dozen states are advancing bills to remove barriers newly arrived migrants face when integrating into new communities. Red state lawmakers have moved bills reducing licensure requirements for foreign-trained doctors and nurses, while seven states are moving to open Offices of New Americans to help migrants get job training. (Pluribus News)

Working-Class People Rarely Have A Seat 'At The Legislative Table' In State Capitals The dearth of working-class legislators raises concerns that economic challenges such as wage stagnation and the rising cost of living will get short shrift in state capitals. Stateline/Route Fifty

Gun Politics—Next Door: The Delaware Senate approved legislation requiring anyone buying a handgun to be fingerprinted, undergo training and obtain a state permit. The bill now goes to Gov. John Carney (D), who backs the legislation. (Delaware Public Media, Associated Press) Expect litigation to follow. Maryland’s permit-to-purchase law goes before a federal appeals court next this week. Pluribus

States Consider Subsidies to Boost Alternative Housing -- States are subsidizing accessory dwelling unit projects to encourage homeowners to add separate living spaces to their backyards, garages and basements. California and New York offer grants to low- and middle-income property owners, and Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey may create new financial assistance programs. Supporters say adding an ADU — also known as a granny flat or casita — to an existing property can increase the local housing supply and help homeowners build wealth, age in place and live with extended family. States are helping ease that process. Pluribus

States Are Lining Up to Outlaw Lab-Grown Meat Around 46 million Americans live in states that have introduced bills to ban cultivated meat, the latest escalation in a surprising culture war. Pluribus

Cali Happiness Commission Convenes: The California Assembly’s Select Committee on Happiness and Public Policy Outcomes held its first public hearing last week. The first-of-its-kind group, chaired by former Speaker Anthony Rendon (D), will study how to make state residents happier. (Associated Press) via Pluribus


Green For Green: The Environmental Protection Agency is gearing up to send a handful of nonprofit groups $20 billion to make green lending accessible to more lower-income communities, POLITICO reports. The EPA said the awards under the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF) and the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) will be announced shortly. The NCIF program aims to fund tens of thousands of green energy and energy efficient projects, with at least 40 percent going to those in disadvantaged communities. Playbook

Biden Officials Mull Quicker Death for US Coal Power Plants US coal-fired power plants could be forced to shut down two years sooner than envisioned under a Biden administration plan to stifle pollution from the electricity sector. The potential change being seriously considered now by administration officials would accelerate the required retirement date for coal plants that opt against installing carbon-removal technology at the sites, according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg

There are 100,000 fewer Election Day polling places in 2024 A major Supreme Court decision, a pandemic and localized issues have all conspired to reduce the number of physical voting locations. Advocates say that's bad for democracy. Stateline Daily

In Maryland, COVID of course shook up the polling place numbers and the number of election judges willing to be exposed to crowds. The DelMarVa Today website/Salisbury Daily Times Sept. 22, 2020 reported “As of Sept. 8, Maryland jurisdictions plan to open 318 polling locations across the state on Election Day, a fraction of the 1,604 that were open in the 2016 general election, according to election plans from all 24 jurisdictions.” In the 2022 election, the state opened 1,532 polling places, about 70 fewer than in 2016.  As of 2023, Maryland's population grew 6.5% from the 5.8 million people who lived there [here] in 2010, reports the Census Bureau.

House Republicans Have Declared It “Energy Week,” and they’ve teed up a suite of bills aimed at boosting fossil fuel production and denouncing Biden administration energy policies. As E&E News’ Kelsey Brugger put it last week, it’s “unlikely any of their efforts will bear much fruit beyond campaign messaging.” But message they shall nonetheless: To kick off the festivities, Playbook has learned that [House Speaker Mike] Johnson is in the Texas oil patch today stumping with Rep. August Pfluger in Midland. POLITICO


Prospects For Those Getting Up In Years: Demographers writing in The Conversation say odds are both Biden and Trump are likely to live through a 2024-2028 term. A lot rests on comparative cohort age (which is also a reflection of the state of medicine at the time). “At their second inaugurations, Jefferson was roughly 45 years older than the median age of the U.S. population then, and Reagan 43 years older. If Biden wins a second term, he will be 42 years older than today’s median. If Trump wins in 2024, he will be 38 years older than the current median. As demographers, we can say it is likely that both Biden and Trump will be alive when the presidential term that begins in 2025 comes to an end in 2029. But as the U.S. population gets older too, the age factor may become less important to voters. This is not an immediate change, however, but one that will likely occur over the next decade or so.”


Shutdown Or No Shutdown? Here's the midday Monday latest: "A government spending deal that resolves the dispute over DHS funding is now not expected to come out today, per Punchbowl News, worsening the Hill’s time crunch this week and raising the odds of at least a brief partial government shutdown." POLITICO Afternoon Playbook.

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...