It appears that for the eight years of Larry Hogan, building more roads to create more access to more real estate development was seen as the key to prosperity in Maryland.
Meanwhile, neighbor states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania were taking different steps, and Gov. Wes Moore told this weekend's gathering of the Maryland Association of Counties that economic data shows Maryland residents are losing earning power compared to our neighbors, and that was hampering economic progress he hopes to see in our state. So, tough times ahead.
This and more news you can use in this week's roundup, including the return of People's Action's congressional watchdog with, well, the usual dismal news about our fearless leaders on the Hill. Read it all here.
Maryland’s Governor Warned of Need to Scale Back Policy Ambitions, Facing A Lackluster Economy:
Wes Moore (D) urged the need for “discipline” at a conference of public officials Saturday. He ran through bleak economic data that shows residents are losing earning power compared to neighboring states. “Look around,” he said. “Our neighbors are choosing intentionality over complacency. Our neighbors are choosing growth over stasis.”
Some background to Moore’s address to MACo: the state’s economists largely agree -- including some who advised Larry Hogan.
As the state prepares for budget season, Moore told county and city officials at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference to expect to tighten their fiscal belts. Baltimore Sun.
Looming deficits projected in the Hogan administration seemed rescued by federal money, Moore said, but “The trouble underneath the surface was masked by federal cash and big stock gains during COVID … But we all knew that those days would not last forever,” he is quoted in this Maryland Matters account.
(Not all lessons about bad road-building practices seem to have been learned from the Hogan folks' misadventures. The Moore admin buys into the toll lane plan for the Wilson Bridge to I-270, as announced Monday.)
A Room Full of Women Who Lead some of Maryland’s districts, counties and local agencies gathered for a luncheon at the Maryland Association of Counties in Ocean City on Friday to talk about the role and influence women can have in government and administrative positions. House Speaker Adrienne Jones noted there tends to be a greater interest in policies focused on quality-of-life issues, such as education and health, when more women are in leadership roles. “Too often in the past, the question always has been ‘How can we afford to do these things?’” she said, prompting soft chuckles from around the room. She continued: “With more women leading on the issues, the question has become ‘How can we afford not to?’ ” Maryland Matters
Attorney General Brown Announces $24m In Opioid Settlements: Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) announced that the state and most of its counties and municipalities received nearly $24 million in opioid settlements. Maryland Matters.
‘If You See Something, Don’t Say Something’: Morgan State researchers examine Maryland State Police culture, diversity -- The Maryland State Police value statistics and rank, while devaluing diversity and penalizing individuals who speak out about microaggressions or unfair treatment, according to a Morgan State University report summarizing focus groups held with sworn and civilian employees last year. The agency has, for years, faced scrutiny around its treatment of minority troopers. Baltimore Sun
STATE OF THE STATES
"This [municipal bond market] is how your sewage gets funded, this is how your water gets funded, this is how public schools and public services are funded," one expert says. But a growing body of research shows that this credit market is also helping perpetuate systemic racism. When Black towns and cities try to borrow money on the bond market, they pay higher interest rates than their white counterparts. Grist via Route Fifty
Ranked Choice Voting Gains Popularity – and Enemies
The increasingly popular alternative of ranked-choice voting reduces winner-take-all elections and the need for runoffs, but also threatens the two-party duopoly everywhere – so it has enemies, and they have lawyers. As we hear from StateLine, As ranked choice voting gains momentum, parties in power push back
This year, several states banned the increasingly popular voting system. Over the past decade, ranked choice voting has become increasingly popular. From conservative Utah to liberal New York City, 13 million American voters in 51 jurisdictions — including all of Alaska and Maine — now use the system, under which voters rank candidates based on preference, leading to an instant runoff in a crowded race. This year, Democrats and Republicans in power pushed back, including Washington, DC’s increasingly corporate Dems.
Rural businesses innovate at rates similar to urban businesses when they have access to the cloud. But they need fast, stable internet connection to maintain that competitiveness. Many still don’t have it. The Daily Yonder via Route Fifty -- and with awesome timing, AP reports that "The Biden administration on Monday continued its push toward internet-for-all by 2030, announcing about $667 million in new grants and loans to build more broadband infrastructure in the rural U.S."
Food Access: Illinois is creating a $20 million grant program aimed at bringing grocery stores to areas that lack easy access to fresh foods under a measure Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law, according to the Chicago Tribune.
THE FEDS – WHAT UP IN WASHINGTON DC
People’s Action DC watcher Megan Essaheb returns with these tidbits:
Both Houses of Congress are out for the week of August and won’t be back in session until after Labor Day. Congress is up against a deadline of September 30th to pass government funding legislation or face a shut down. When President Biden and Congressional leadership made an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, they also made an agreement to fund the federal government agencies at particular levels, which should make it easier for appropriators to pass government funding bills. However, House Republicans, led by the House Freedom Caucus, the far-right wing of the party, are bucking the agreement and demanding much larger cuts to domestic spending on everything from health care to education. Some are also demanding massive increases in spending for border patrol.
Speaker McCarthy has said that Congress will likely have to pass a continuing resolution to give them more time to negotiate the annual funding bills. A continuing resolution extends current funding levels for a set period of time. Some Republicans will refuse to vote for any continuing resolution, giving Democratic Majority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) some leverage in the matter, as he will have to deliver some Democratic votes in order to keep the government open. See sign-on letter below in the take action section
August 16th was the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which made massive investments on the green energy transition and authorized Medicare to negotiate the price of some prescription drugs, which will lower costs for seniors. As the Biden administration makes progress on these negotiations (we expect the first 10 drugs to be announced in the coming weeks), PhRMA, the Chamber of Commerce and individual pharmaceutical corporations have filed lawsuits to block the law from being implemented. Some of our members and partners held protests in front of these companies in the last few weeks. See here and here.
On the path to a win: Congratulations to the Homes Guarantee campaign for driving over 2,411 comments from tenants and allies (out of 3,488 total comments) to the Federal Housing Finance Agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’re calling on FHFA to require Fannie and Freddie to attach tenant protections and rent regulation to federally backed mortgages of multi-unit properties. The campaign also organized a comment letter from Senator Schumer and a letter from Senator Sherrod Brown, Chair of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee that 16 other Senators signed echoing our demands. Thank you to all of you who submitted a comment, met with or emailed your Senate office on this issue!
Should We Be Worried About Democracy? The WaPo thinks so; Dan Balz is leading a multi-article project. Then there are those who argue that random choice is better than choosing among those who have “fire in the belly” for elected office in our current system. The storied democracy of ancient Athens was conducted by members (OK, all men) who were chosen by lottery. First, though, they had to pass a civics test. How much more “storied” would that democracy be if women had been included…?
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