News You Can Use: Assembly Session wrapping in celebratory spirit

MD_state_house.jpgSESSION IN ANNAPOLIS HAS CELEBRATORY VIBE When you get today's Memo, the Assembly is highly unlikely to have adjourned sine die, so you may have a chance to get word about YOUR priority bills to your members before the Session ends. We do our best to keep up with the state of play in NEWS YOU CAN USE on our BlogSpace.

Their Assembly office staff will keep grinding on all the way to the finish line, and probably still after the legislators have sung "auld lang syne" and adjourned to their pubs of choice. Remember to thank them.

This will be the last Assembly session for some of these members, and not always of their own choosing, as a well known political analyst once put it. The new General Assembly seated next January will be starting a new four-year turn and we, the voters, can have something to say about who they are. Progressive Maryland will have some recommendations over the next weeks before the (delayed) primary.



 

SESSION IN ANNAPOLIS HAS CELEBRATORY VIBE When you get this email, the Assembly is highly unlikely to have adjourned sine die, so you may have a chance to get word about YOUR priority bills to your members before the Session ends. We do our best to keep up with the state of play in NEWS YOU CAN USE on our BlogSpace.

Their office staff will keep grinding on all the way to the finish line, and probably still after the legislators have sung auld lang syne and adjourned to their pubs of choice. This will be the last Assembly session for some of these members, and not always of their own choosing, as a well known political analyst once put it. The new General Assembly seated next January will be starting a new four-year turn and we, the voters, can have something to say about who they are.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Session ends today – SINE DIE – will the Assembly members stop the clock at midnight and keep churning? Maryland Matters suggests otherwise in this wrap:

The agendas for the General Assembly’s final hours — the legislature must adjourn at midnight — are light so far. House and Senate committees held voting sessions on Saturday — opting to move along several bills, many of them crossfiles of measures that already passed. The procedural work will give colleagues in both chambers more successful legislation to brag about on the campaign trail in this election season. Examples of work that might happen today:  a bill to study strengthening new requirements to disclose police records, a measure that would allow hate crime victims to seek civil remedies, a compromise to increase local budgets for highway repairs, and a bill to set stricter rules for marriage of minors, a measure that has languished in the legislature for years.

From Maryland Legislative Coalition – “some bills in play that need votes.  The good news is that many of our bills that crossed over to the other chamber are moving, and quite a few of them have passed.  However, there are a few that seem to be stuck.  This will be our last push to get them on a voting list before the end of session. Details here with support requests.

Monday represents the first Sine Die in four years — and the first of this legislative term — that will feature any kind of celebratory air in Annapolis. The traditional midnight drop of balloons and confetti as the gavels come down in the House and Senate chambers at the end of session hasn’t happened since 2018.

 

AS SESSION ENDS, DEM LAWMAKERS SEE SUCCESS: Much of the agenda Democratic leadership marked as priorities was wrapped up over the weekend during a flurry of Saturday votes that overrode Friday vetoes from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Democratic leaders’ marquee policy goals. Included not only bipartisan, crowd-pleasing tax cuts but progressive staples like some of the nation’s most ambitious climate change goals. It enhanced gun regulations by banning the sale and possession of untraceable “ghost gun” firearms. And it took steps toward legalizing adult-use cannabis, putting the question to voters in November.. Other progressive priorities – protecting reproductive rights, financing the critical schools Blueprint during their recovery from the COVID shock, and enhancing MARC

 Nobody seems to have called it “wage theft” during the debate, but “The chambers also overrode Hogan’s veto on Senate Bill 1, which will allow the Maryland Department of Labor’s commissioner of labor and industry to investigate and send out stop work orders to state contractors and subcontractors that have violated the prevailing wage law. Sen. Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel), the lead sponsor of the bill, said that there were 887 prevailing wage and living wage violations in fiscal year 2021 and 1,394 violations in 2020.”

The governor allowed about 28 bills to take effect without his signature — including the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, which would set aggressive goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland and establish new policies to help achieve that goal. Maryland Matters has the list.

Hogan’s rationale for vetoing some bills and letting others happen without his fingerprints on them will get hashed out by the commentariat over the next weeks and months. But as Scott Bland of POLITICO outlined just today, Hogan is among a dozen potential 2024 candidates with dark money operations working on their behalf, where under current law "prospective presidents can use nonprofits to shield their donors — and much about their preparations — from the public eye.” Between his longtime Change Maryland PAC and a nonprofit called An America United, Hogan appears to have amassed at least $3-4 million. The latter is “a group founded by [Hogan's] close political allies in 2019 [that lately] has been running national digital ads, promoting Hogan as a problem-solver,” Bland reports.

ALSO: COVID brought the closing and then virtualizing of courts around the state, with perhaps some unexpectedly good potential outcomes for the less-wealthy who generally come out worst in the legal system. A task force recommends the state’s courts stay virtual whenever possible, WTOP and Maryland Matters reported.

 

ON THE FEDERAL ACTION SIDE nothing quite as exciting as Sine Die – Congress snuck out of town for a couple weeks, no balloons, no confetti, without passing new funds for everyday battles against COVID-19 as the new omicron variant cranks up [Maryland is so far remarkably underwhelmed by the surge; speaks well for our people continuing to take reasonable precautions].

People’s Action’s Megan Essaheb reports:

"We celebrated the final confirmation vote of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday with three GOP senators joining in a  53 -47. Senators Paul (KY) & Graham (SC) used the opportunity to be disrespectful (yet again) but otherwise the process went smoothly.

"President Biden signed an executive order expanding access to the Affordable Care Act by fixing the so-called “family glitch” where dependents were not eligible for federal subsidies to help pay for a health plan on the ACA exchange, even when family coverage through an employers’ health benefit costs far more than the law says is affordable. 

"The Biden administration extended the student loan payment moratorium again until August 31st. Advocates have been asking for loan forgiveness but staff in the White House are in disagreement about whether loan forgiveness is legal and how much forgiveness should be given.  Another extension in August is likely, and the WH may also announce some loan forgiveness."

Congress went on recess without passing a $10 billion relief package for COVID, as we noted above. Shamefully, both sides were willing to throw the under-vaccinated, poorer nations under the bus, but even that didn’t get it past the GOP or some shaky Dems, who sniff an emerging border-crisis issue ripe for exploitation.

ISSUE UPDATE: CLIMATE -- Coming up, and of special interest to DMV activists, April 23rd 1-3pm ET Earth Day Mobilization in DC (plus AZ, GA PA) Backgrounder (2pages) here.

 House progressives say they may be prepared to accept policies that boost fossil fuels in the short term in order to win Sen. Joe Manchin‘s support for a party-line climate change and social spending bill to help salvage their agenda ahead of the midterm elections.”

Housing: if you have a moment for a tale of outrage from a well-known corner of Hell USA…