News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngAfter the big end-of-term blockbusters delivered by the conservative US Supreme Court majority, lots of people will wonder what the heck "Chevron deference" is -- sorry, was -- before SCOTUS casually ended it. It means judges no longer have to assume that expert civil servants at administrative agencies know what they are talking about, so they can be ignored. Lots of people are worried that any effort to improve energy production or distribution could be crippled while judges second-guess the science. Trump strikes again, with help from Mitch McConnell and the GOP caucus that appointed his SCOTUS nominees. We'll be seeing many more instances where this deliberate privileging of ignorance shows up in important places and stops important projects.



Moore’s Goal Of Zero-Emission Heating Leaves Advocates, Industry Hot And Cold

Supporters say it sets a model for nation; industry officials say it’s not new, could backfire… there’s been a range of responses, from glowing praise to outright opposition, to the executive order that Moore called “one of the most comprehensive executive orders on climate of any governor in Maryland’s history.” Moore’s June 4 executive order covers a range of climate issues, but one of the most specific elements is the order for the Maryland Department of the Environment to develop new zero-emission regulations on heating and cooling systems in the state. Maryland Matters


Housing Remains Out Of Reach For Low-Wage Earners: A national report says low-income renters in Maryland would have to work 82 hours a week at mininum wage to make their housing affordable. Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter


The Road AHEAD: Maryland To Be Test State In New Federal Hospital Model  

The federal AHEAD model aims to help participating states implement what’s called a total cost of care model, in which states take responsibility and accountability for health outcomes of their patients. Maryland is ahead of the game: It already has a total cost of care model. In fact, the federal program takes a cue from hospital-rate setting programs in Maryland and states like Vermont and Pennsylvania. Maryland Matters


Marylanders Spent $1.1b On Weed In First Year Of Legalization: Marylanders spent about $1.1 billion on weed products since cannabis was legalized for retail sale a year ago. Adult recreational consumers made up most cannabis sales since July 1, 2023, spending more than $700 million as of last Monday, while medical consumers bought nearly $400 million worth of cannabis, said Gov. Wes Moore. Washington Times.

Third-Graders May Be Held Back, If Literacy Policy Adopted: A proposed literacy policy in Maryland could have third-grade students held back for a year if they don’t achieve certain reading scores on state tests, or “demonstrate sufficient reading skills for promotion to grade 4.” Maryland would join more than half of states that allow third-grade students to be held back if the policy is adopted. The Maryland Department of Education is accepting public comments on the plan until July 19. Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter




TRENDS – a Pluribus Roundup: Halfway into 2024, here is a look at the major trends developing in state legislatures across the nation. We’ve seen more action on tech legislation, and especially bills relating to artificial intelligence, than ever before. Lawmakers are also tackling digital privacy and youth social media issues. States are crafting major housing measures to boost construction of low- and middle-income units, opening new doors to alternative dwelling units and changing land use rules to encourage more building. Legislators are taking the NIMBY-ism backlash that local lawmakers can’t stomach. [see “missing middle” rezoning, just below] And states are taking steps to cap profits drug companies can earn, as the cost of medicine skyrockets. Legislation in Vermont this year targeted health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers to cap costs, while other states [including Maryland] are rolling out lists of drugs that must be price-capped. Read Pluribus’s full take on the five big trends of the year right here.


Right across the river, “missing middle” zoning policies are raising ire. Counties And States Are Ending Single-Family Zoning. Homeowners Are Suing. A trial over Arlington’s “missing middle” policy in Northern Virginia shows how the fiery debate over this suburban planning ideal is moving from city halls to courthouses. WaPo


And Next Door, Cannabis Banking: Delaware lawmakers have approved legislation providing legal protections for Delaware banks that want to work with legal marijuana businesses. The bill allows banks, credit unions and other financial firms to work with marijuana businesses free from the threat of prosecution. (Delaware Public Media) via Pluribus


Still More Next Door: Delaware Examines “Stroads” A potentially controversial new law will give transportation officials in Delaware more power to re-imagine deadly "stroads" that mix lightning-fast through-traffic streets with slower local road users [often a dangerous blend] — including transforming them into true limited-access highways when a road diet is truly out of reach. In late June, the Delaware General Assembly passed the Everyone Gets Home Act, which advocacy group Bike Delaware called the "first-ever legislative effort to deal with Delaware’s stroads," and which group leaders believe may be the first such law in the nation. Streetsblog


This Housing Fix Could Help Build More Homes. But Firefighters Are Sounding The Alarm.

At the center of the housing debate are building codes, and whether states’ bids to update them to address the affordable housing crises poses safety risks to the individuals they are trying to help. Stateline Daily


Reproductive Rights On Eight Ballots?: Supporters of reproductive rights submitted enough signatures to qualify ballot measures in Arizona, Nebraska and Arkansas by deadlines last week. If enough signatures are valid in each state, they would join Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and South Dakota, where pro-abortion rights measures have already qualified for the ballot. (Pluribus News)


Supreme Court’s Chevron, Corner Post Decisions Could Delay Energy Investments, Spur Litigation: Analysts

The urgent need to upgrade the national electricity grid to meet the needs of a post-carbon energy system might have been seriously delayed by recent term-end US Supreme Court rulings that gave judges equal standing to US agency experts on such decisions. Under Chevron deference [cabinet and agency experts get credit for expertise compared to judges], investors may have generally assumed that new agency rules were largely durable, the research firm said. Now, they may wait to invest until judicial reviews are completed, and regulated entities may forgo early compliance with anticipated or pending regulations, the analysts at ClearView said. “This is going to inject a heightened level of litigation in courts, extraordinary uncertainty in the coming years as to what is permissible and what is not as far as establishing rules and promulgating rules, and will likely hamstring an agency’s ability to move quickly, said a separate analyst. FERC Chairman Willie Phillips defended the commission’s transmission planning rule after the court eliminated the Chevron deference for federal agencies. Utility Dive


Weather Report: Mighty Winds Coming Our Way? How Future Hurricanes Could Stress Power Grids of US Cities A new analysis shows increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes could cause more devastating interruptions to the power grid. The risk of hurricane-induced power outages could become 50 percent higher in some areas of the United States, including Puerto Rico, because of climate change in the coming decades, according to a new analysis. The projections suggest that increasingly stronger and wetter storms, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, will make landfall more frequently and push further inland, with tangible effects on the grid [due to trees falling on power lines].  How about us? The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coastal areas are predicted to see the zone of potential climate-driven storms and hurricanes shift upward, exposing them more often to the risk of outages. New York Times


And One “By the Numbers”: 88 billion: The number of gallons of water Texas’s six largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and El Paso — lost last year because of aging water infrastructure. The losses cost those cities millions of dollars every year. (Texas Tribune) via Pluribus




House and Senate are back from break this week and Dems will get to talk over President Biden’s wavering support.

Megan E of People’s Action is back to report “the number of Congressional Democrats calling for President Biden to step out of the race grows, and Politico reports that there will be growing pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to nudge the President to step aside. Five committee leaders reportedly pushed Jeffries on their concerns about Biden’s candidacy. Several senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus came to Biden’s defense.  Senator Warner will bring his concerns up at Senate Democrats regular Tuesday caucus lunch. Members of Congress are worried about both the top of the ticket and the  negative impact on down ballot Congressional races. Jeffries and Schumer listening and keeping their powder dry. Some Members have suggested that there is a soft Friday deadline. 

Megan E also has news about a big left-Labour win in the UK and the French voters’ rejection of the fascist National Front. “Europe’s elections are relevant as the right-wing trends and rising authoritarianism elements in Europe are similar to what we are seeing in the U.S. Like here, immigration and xenophobia are polarizing issues.” Her suggestion that the hard left (Melenchon) and center-right (Macron) formations will form a coalition government may be a tad optimistic.


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...