Green jobs and the Inflation Reduction Act -- has anybody heard that times are less bad, maybe a lot less bad? How is Maryland doing on green jobs anyway? (be prepared to be disappointed). All the states hoping to reap taxes on cannabis are struggling with US banking regs. But Marylanders are lighting up (or chowing down) anyway. Lots more is filling the news gap while Congress has gone home to do nothing rather than hanging around in DC doing nothing, and some of that news is even good -- for Maryland and the US. Best of all, we have no news about the former president. Read on; and don't forget our Friday Night Drive Time PM Radio Show on WPFW-FM (more below)
Chilling Affect – a 25-foot-long statue of a reclining Statue of Liberty has arrived for a tour outside Arlington, Virginia’s Museum of Contemporary Art after enlivening sites in Manhattan and New Jersey. The sculpture by Zaq Landsberg is linked to Asian images of the reclining Buddha and will be at the Virginia institution till July 2024.
Is Maryland Living Up to Renewables Promises? Eight environmental leaders are pressing Maryland energy regulators for more transparency on how the state’s renewable energy program is handled — and how the state hands out financial credits for entities that generate renewable energy. In a letter sent Tuesday to the five members of the Maryland Public Service Commission, the green groups suggest that the state’s renewable energy program isn’t delivering on its promise. “There is substantial evidence that Maryland’s supposedly renewable energy program is in reality subsidizing an array of dirty energy sources,” Tim Whitehouse, executive director of the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said in a statement Wednesday. “It is imperative that both ratepayers and the General Assembly have a clear idea of how this program operates.” Maryland Matters Note: Maryland Did Not Make the Top 10 among states producing renewable-energy jobs in 2022, logging 560 in a new report that showed Kansas topping the list with 20,600 jobs.
Maryland’s Nearly 121,000 Federal Workers Will Be Urged To Return to Offices: President Biden is calling on Cabinet officials to urge more of their workers to return to the office this fall, part of a broader effort to return to normalcy more than three years after the coronavirus pandemic upended work patterns. WaPo
Child Tax Credits, Other Resources for Low-income Households Gained in States in 2023: This year’s legislative sessions saw strong momentum toward creating and expanding child tax credits. Three states created a new permanent child tax credit, one created a one-time child tax credit payment, and seven states improved existing child tax credits. These efforts build on the success of the federal Child Tax Credit in reducing child poverty and improving outcomes for children in the near and long term. Center for Budget and Policy Priorities via Portside
With A C-, Maryland In Top 10 For Maternal Mental Health: A new report shows that Maryland is in the top 10 states when it comes to policies that support mental health among new mothers and pregnant people. But the state only received a C-, according to a nationwide report card from the policy think tank called Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health. According to the report card, 40 states either received a D or an F, and the highest graded state was California with a B-. Maryland Matters
Mosquitos With West Nile Virus Found In Two Counties: Four mosquito traps set out by the Maryland Department of Agriculture tested positive for West Nile Virus. The results are the first of a season that typically starts in late July and goes through September. The positive traps were found in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. WYPR-FM.
UM in the Polling Mix: “A new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll out this morning found 71 percent of Americans say they have heard “little” or “nothing at all” about the Inflation Reduction Act nearly a year after its passage,. The White House has pointed to the economy’s resilience, with inflation coming down from last year’s highs, unemployment low and consumer confidence rising, as evidence that “Bidenomics” is working.” WaPo Early 202... And, as Semafor reports, “Look at where the puck’s going to be a year from now,” a White House official tells Politico. “Inflation’s going down and the term Bidenomics is going to come to signify … President Biden has a plan.” (If the mutual back-scratching of the political newsletters makes our readers dizzy, they can join the editor in the great state of dizziness…)
Rental Assistance Programs Helped Stave Off Evictions during the pandemic. But now that federal aid has dwindled, local and state governments are going to have to up their fame to keep the process going smoothly. “Beyond covering rent, the federal funding laid the groundwork for improved partnerships with courts and data integration that will help communities continue providing support. For the most part, emergency rental assistance is exactly what it sounds like: cash to cover housing costs. But behind such programs are crucial processes and partnerships designed to support renters in the long term, researchers say. During the pandemic, federal assistance nurtured that behind-the-scenes work, but as that funding winds down, it’s up to cities and states to determine if and how they’ll build out their programs.” Route Fifty
Just in Time for the Charging Stations Boom: Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) on Friday signed legislation allowing drivers to pump their own gas across the state, ending a 70-year old law that required full service at stations. The new law still requires stations to have full-service attendants on hand. (Pluribus News) who notes New Jersey is now the only state in the nation where self-service is banned.
Maryland and other states implementing cannabis legalization of various sorts have a problem: People in The Cannabis Business Can’t Find A Place To Legally Put Their Money. Punchbowl News reports ”Cannabis banking: This has been a years-long push by a surprisingly eclectic group of senators, including [Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — the NRSC chair.. The legislation, known as SAFE Banking, would allow cannabis companies to do business with federally regulated banks. But senators from both parties have reported very little progress on the issue in recent weeks. [Ohio Sen. Sherrod] Brown, who chairs the Banking Committee, has said it’s up to Daines to help deliver some additional GOP sponsors. The challenge for Daines is that Democrats are trying to expand the legislation to address expungements for non-violent cannabis-related crimes. This makes the effort a tougher sell for some Republicans.
Meanwhile, “Mastercard Has Told U.S. Banks To Stop Allowing Marijuana Purchases with its debit cards, highlighting the legal and financial gray area the industry exists within even as more states legalize the drug. Large banks and credit card companies have generally restricted cannabis purchases because marijuana is illegal under federal law, leaving few payment options for buyers in places where it is legal.” WaPo
But these, er, headwinds have not stopped Marylanders: Marylanders Spend $87m On Legal Cannabis: Marijuana users dropped $87.43 million on cannabis in Maryland during a strong first month of recreational sales, according to state officials, spending an average of about $2.8 million on the substance each day in July. WaPo
What’s Up with the US Debt? A Problem? NYT columnist Paul Krugman puts it this way: “The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army: It spends mainly on things the public wants, like the military, Social Security and health programs. But we have an effective blocking coalition [he means the GOP in Congress] against raising taxes enough to pay for those programs. So we’ll keep accumulating debt until that impasse is resolved.” He goes on in this helpful newsletter
From the Business Messenger: The implosion of the Titan submersible cast a spotlight on the high-risk, expensive pursuits of the world’s wealthiest people. Here’s a ranking of the costliest and riskiest excursions, and who’s going on them. (Read More)
IMPORTANT: An email blast from Ryan Greenwood at the People’s Action Institute: Medicaid is a public program intended to make sure poor and working people get the health care they need. The New York Times reports that for-profit companies with Medicaid contracts are getting in the way, rejecting doctors’ requests for approval of treatments at unfathomable and ultimately dangerous rates. The reason is simple: when private insurance corporations deny us the care we need, they get to keep more of the money we pay them for coverage.
That ain’t right, and our Care Over Cost campaign is doing something about it
One of the folks interviewed by the Times, Bri Moss, is a People’s Action member with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. She shared her story of being denied an insulin pump she needed by Anthem, one of the corporations with a Medicaid contract.
Bri made a critical choice though: She decided to fight back and take her story public as part of our campaign. The Times reported what happened next:
“Working with People’s Action, a national advocacy network, and a sister organization, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, where she is a member, Ms. Moss eventually won an appeal to get the device covered.”
Bri shouldn’t have to fight to get the care she needs. Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to profit off our pain this way. That’s why we’re fighting back when these companies get in the way, and that’s why we won’t stop until everyone gets the health care they deserve, no matter their race or income.
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