News You Can Use: Swan-song veto pushbacks; pre-primary fever spreads (a little?)

News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngIn a final veto dump on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, Gov. Hogan erases laws for better transit, more transparent and easy voting and protecting tenants against eviction. What's not to like? We have the reaction to that and more in state action, plus the prospect of a week when both US House and Senate will be in at work and dodging questions about, you know, guns and dead elementary school students. Read on ...

MARYLAND ELECTIONS – we haven’t said much about them here because the field of candidates (and their continued brushfire of endorsements) made the noise blot out the signal, frankly).

 There was also the floating date for the primary as election district lines were wobbled back and forth by legislators and skeptical judges.

All this uncertainty has caused close observers, otherwise known as political junkies, to worry that the electorate has lost interest in who’s running and whether or not to vote.

That may be about to change, as was bound to happen.

First independent poll on Dem gubernatorial candidates dropped Sunday

A Baltimore Sun/University of Baltimore poll published on Sunday suggests the race for the Democratic nomination has three candidates firmly in double-digits.
 
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot had the support of 20% of Democrats surveyed, author and former non-profit CEO Wes Moore had 15% support, and former U.S. Labor Secretary and DNC chairman Tom Perez had 12% support. Takeaways from Maryland Matters

Maryland Matters also reported that Progressive Maryland has endorsed former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez in the Democratic primary for governor. Larry Stafford, the executive director of the grass-roots group, called Perez “a champion for working families and the change that we need for our state.”

“We feel confident that as our governor, he will successfully pave a new path toward strong union jobs; equitable access to quality public education; and a safe, clean environment for all Marylanders,” Stafford said.

Perez has enjoyed a good week of endorsements, receiving the nod from the AFL-CIO and The Washington Post editorial board in recent days. Progressive Maryland is affiliated with several unions, some of whom have already endorsed Perez, Maryland Matters added.

You can see other Progressive Maryland endorsees here.PM has endorsed and is working for progressive candidates at all levels, the General Assembly and county-level as well as statewide.

 

Hogan’s swan song vetoes

In addition to his veto of the bill to establish a Baltimore-based regional transit board, the governor also vetoed House Bill 632, which would have required the state to fund a new study related to the Red Line light rail project in Baltimore, which Hogan canceled in 2015.

“It is disappointing that the Governor has chosen to veto legislation that would take another serious look at building a new light rail line to connect the east and west sides of the city,” said Donald C. Fry, the outgoing president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. “…When Congress took bold steps to pass an infrastructure bill our Congressional members, led by Senators [Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen] successfully inserted language that directed that the Red Line could move back into the approved project list pending state action. The veto of the legislation delays the potential for this important transit project that would benefit Baltimore City and the region economically, socially and culturally.”

….

The governor also vetoed Senate Bill 384, which would have delayed eviction proceedings if a tenant applied for government rental assistance programs, and Senate Bill 563, which would have required landlords to prove they were in compliance with local rental laws before trying to evict a tenant.

“Maryland already has some of the strongest tenant protection laws in the nation and these bills impose additional burdens on small property owners who are already struggling to stay in business. We will continue to work at the state and local levels to help tenants and landlords ensure that rent payments and rental licenses are current and in good standing,” Hogan wrote in a veto letter. “However, SB 384 and SB 563 will do little to help tenants and will make it harder for small and family-owned property owners to stay in business.”

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich on Wednesday [June 1] called for a special session and compromise on a vetoed mail-in voting law, the Daily Record reported.

The leader of the most populous jurisdiction in the state said Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill last Friday will sow angst and conspiracy theories in the 2022 election.

“I hope the governor will consider some way of ensuring people have confidence in the vote by ensuring the votes get counted on time and not delayed,” Elrich told reporters.

Hogan announced the vetoes as part of a final tranche of bills that were passed by the General Assembly.

The identical House and Senate bills would allow local boards of election to process mail-in ballots starting eight days before the start of early voting and ending the day early voting begins. Results from those ballots would be announced on election night after polls close.

The bills sent to Hogan effectively codified how mail-in ballots were handled in 2020. It also settled a conflict in cases where a voter mails in a ballot but then attempts to vote in person.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE NATIONAL SCENE -- Scrambling for cover on "guns? what guns?" week

First -- when it comes to understanding national politics from a progressive perspective, the best resource around has just been updated: from Megan E at People’s Action…

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus Center updated its Progressive Playbook for 2022 that includes new research and messaging! The Progressive Playbook is a one-stop-shop for progressive, values-driven messaging that works even in tough spots complete with core messages, words that work, polls, and more. “

 

But as for this week, we will watch House and Senate members scrambling for some cover on gun control as the full horror of Uvalde collides with their pre-election schedules. Again, Megan E:

“The Senate is back in session today and the House comes back tomorrow. The House will vote this week on a series of gun-control measures, likely along party lines. 

From Punchbowl News: “These bills include: Raising the age for buying semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21; banning high-capacity ammunition magazines; prohibiting the sales of “ghost gun” kits without a background check or serial numbers stamped on the parts used in assembling the weapon; boosting penalties for illegal “straw purchases” of guns; and requiring gun owners to store their weapons safely, especially when minors are present.” They will also vote on a red flag law that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to have guns taken away from people who are a threat to themselves or others. Speaker Pelosi has also promised to hold a vote on an assault weapons ban but it appears that she does not yet have the votes on that bill”. 

Senator Murphy continues to negotiate with Senator Cornyn on a more moderate gun control package with the goal of getting the necessary 10 Republican Senators to sign off on the deal to overcome the filibuster.”

And: “Senators are also looking at including provisions to address a hike in Affordable Care Act premiums. From Punchbowl: ‘Congress limited premium hikes as part of the American Rescue Plan. If Congress doesn’t act this year, premiums could spike as much as 50%. Republicans have shown no interest in this and are likely to filibuster, so reconciliation may be necessary’.”

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And last but hardly least, if you have been scrambling to find baby formula, Bob Kuttner at The American Prospect magazine notes that two companies dominate the US market -- a good definition of a corruptible duopoly -- and both are doing a terrible job. "The remedy is either to break the industry up into lots of smaller producers, or even better, to have a public option, where a public entity enters the market as a major producer. FDR called this 'yardstick competition.' The stuff isn’t hard to make, and WIC provides a guaranteed market.

"When private producers disgrace themselves," he concludes, "social ownership starts looking very good." Hmmm.