News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngGov. Moore's many plans and proposals take two days to offload; how to have an impact on the Assembly session; naming fish tastier and more, including Maryland's state-level plans for putting guardrails around the use (or misuse) of artificial intelligence (or AI, maybe you've heard of it?)

Last Week’s State of State Address Teased Moore’s State Plan, Revealed Thursday

In 2nd State of State Address, Moore Seeks Bipartisan Action for Change.  Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Wednesday dedicated his second State of the State address to imploring fellow politicians to help him, asking 188 state legislators to set aside ego and work “in partnership” to meet his lofty goals. WaPo

>The governor called for action on public safety and said he plans to unveil a roadmap for the state for the next three years. WBFF-TV News.

>He teased a major policy announcement expected for Thursday. Moore touted his pending announcement of an updated plan for state government. Maryland Matters

And He Offered the Plan Next Day as Advertised: Nearly 13 months into his administration, Gov. Wes Moore (D) unveiled a white paper Thursday that he said will serve as a guiding set of principles for his administration and a way to judge how he is measuring up to his own goals. The 40-page document known as the State Plan — sometimes shorthanded as “the plan” by Moore and his aides — is a bureaucratic set of matryoshka dolls with measurements nested within objectives within 10 overarching priorities. Maryland Matters

>It was part Ted-talk, part government geek-out, part inspirational speech to Maryland’s 46,000-strong workforce as he laid out how to begin taking his 10 huge policy goals into reality. WaPo


MD Counties, Community College Association Push Back on Proposed Deep Cuts to CCs

The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) and the Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) are urging the General Assembly to reject the proposed dramatic, permanent cuts to state community college funding. “Maryland’s community colleges are anchor institutions − serving some of our most vulnerable student populations, including a large portion of the state’s Pell Grant recipients – and deserve equitable funding compared to four-year colleges,” the two groups wrote in a joint letter. MaCo Blog/”Conduit Street”


MSDE Hires Consultant to Train in How To Spend Blueprint Money: One program the Blueprint for Education created was the Concentration of Poverty Grant, which provides extra funding to schools in areas with high rates of poverty and crime. The money is intended for health care and other social services. But the IG found millions of dollars from that grant went unused because the Maryland State Department of Education did not train school systems on how to spend it. So the department spent money on consultants to train systems on how to spend the money. WBFF-TV News.


More Authority Sought for Drug Affordability Board: Drug affordability advocates are working to increase the power of a board that can set upper payment limits on medications in Maryland. The state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board was created and 2019 and has the ability to set upper payment limits on drugs for state and local government health plans. However, a new piece of legislation would expand the board’s jurisdiction to set those limits for all plans in Maryland. WYPR-FM. Via MD Reporter


Lawmakers Hope To Reveal Grid Regulators’ Votes: Last year, Del. Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery) was on her own when she filed legislation seeking to force her Maryland utilities to reveal votes at the grid operator, known as PJM, that coordinates the flow of electricity for 65 million people in the Eastern U.S. Her bill passed the House, but stalled in the upper chamber. This year, though, her legislation is back, with backup in the Maryland Senate and similar measures filed by lawmakers in Virginia, Illinois and West Virginia. Another bill is expected to come in Pennsylvania. Maryland Matters via MD Reporter


Correctional Ombudsman Would Oversee DPSCS: Some Maryland legislators and advocates are once again proposing the creation of a correctional ombudsman to provide oversight of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Although the legislation nearly passed unanimously in the Senate last year, it died in the House Rules Committee in the final days of session. Maryland Matters via MD Reporter.


 How Does the Moore Administration Plan Guardrails for Artificial Intelligence? Read this pretty wonkish, but explainer-framed interview with Nishant Shah, Moore’s “Responsible AI” deputy and a veteran of big social tech. It’s from Pluribus.


Bill Aims To Ban Legacy Admissions At State-Funded Colleges: A new Maryland General Assembly bill would prohibit universities and colleges that receive state funding from considering legacy status in the admissions process. The bill comes in response to a June 2023 Supreme Court decision that prohibited higher education institutions from considering a student’s race in the admissions process. Del. Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s), the bill’s sponsor, said that while many Maryland public universities already do not consider a student’s legacy status, the bill would codify the rule into state law. UMCP Diamondback


Maryland Among Nine States Planning Heat Pump-boosting Policies: Nine Democratic-led states said Wednesday [February 7] they will team up to enact policies to boost the market for zero-emitting heat pumps, in an effort to reduce emissions from buildings and help stay on track for meeting emissions reduction targets. California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island, plus Washington, D.C., signed a memorandum of understanding.


Let’s Change the Name to Something, Um, Tasty-Sounding: What’s in a name? A couple of Southern Maryland lawmakers want to boost the catch and consumption of the northern snakehead, one of the Chesapeake Bay’s more troublesome invasive fish, by giving it a new, less off-putting moniker. If only it were that easy. “When you go out to eat dinner with your family, who’s going to order a snakehead fillet, right?” asked Sen. Jack Bailey, a Republican who represents St. Mary’s and a portion of Calvert counties. “It just doesn’t happen.” Bailey and his House colleague, Del. Todd Morgan, also a Republican from St. Mary’s County, introduced companion bills to rename the northern snakehead as the “Patuxent Fish.” Bay Journal


Upcoming Hearings in Assembly as New Bill Deadline Passes -- Both the Senate and House Bill Introduction Deadlines have passed, so we have all of the bills that will be introduced this session (stragglers are not guaranteed a hearing). Our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition say “there will be a LOT of hearings from now until Crossover on March 18th. You can see the upcoming batch at their website .  And in this message the focus is on the best bills being offered for working families, justice and the planet, plus info on how to take part in the process through lobbying – letter-writing, testimony and Lobby Nights for a variety of causes.

Many of these positive bills also fit into Progressive Maryland’s Campaigns, discussed here.




HEALTH CARE: States have removed more than 16 million people from Medicaid rolls since last April, in a post-pandemic “unwinding” process following Covid-era rules barring states from terminating coverage. Millions of those who have been unenrolled have been dropped for procedural reasons, including failing to respond to notices or return paperwork. (KFF Health News)


Car Thefts and Carjackings Are Up. Unreliable Data Makes It Hard to Pinpoint Why. Carjackings and car thefts are up significantly compared with the number of incidents before the pandemic, prompting fear and calls for action in many American cities. Motor vehicle thefts increased by 29% in 2023 compared with the previous year, while carjackings slightly decreased by 5% in nearly 40 American cities, according to the Council on Criminal Justice’s most recent crime trends report. But between 2019 and 2023, both car thefts and carjackings increased dramatically, by 105% and 93%, respectively, according to the report. Experts have cautioned against making policy based on anecdotal evidence on social media…. the varying reliability of motor vehicle theft data at different law enforcement levels and the scarcity of national carjacking data make it hard to determine what — or who — is responsible for the spikes. From Stateline.


DEI --  The Struggle is On: Republican lawmakers have introduced about 50 bills in 20 states to restrict initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion. Democrats have filed about two dozen bills in 11 states that would require or promote DEI initiatives. Most of the restrictive bills focus on higher education, as well as K-12 schools, state government, contracting and pension investments. (Associated Press) via Pluribus  >>and see our Blog Post today.


 Buying a “Mansion”? Pay a Higher Tax for Affordable Housing Support, States Are Saying.
To create a long-term revenue stream to support affordable housing, one Washington state legislator has proposed raising taxes on the most expensive real estate transactions, an increasing nationwide trend sometimes dubbed a “mansion tax.” “What we heard from communities is that we need to know, year over year, that we can actually start doing projects and money will be flowing,” Democratic state Rep. April Berg said. Local and state governments are increasingly looking to create a “mansion tax” targeting the higher ends of the real estate market. So far, 16 mostly left-leaning cities and counties and seven states have approved that type of tax. Stateline


Here is news of action in Congress (what???) from People’s Action federal affairs director Megan E.

Health Care: The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services is proposing raising Medicare Advantage (privatized Medicare) rates by 3.7 percent in 2025, giving plans an extra $16 billion compared with this year. It is well-documented that MA plans are already overpaid, receiving more money per person than traditional Medicare pays out per person with[ insurance company] shareholders extracting billions in taxpayer dollars. If the Biden administration stopped overpaying private insurers for Medicare Advantage plans, there would be enough money to improve benefits in traditional Medicare and lower out of pocket costs. See take action section. LOCAL Pushback: From Delaware Online: “RISE Delaware, a group of state retirees, filed a lawsuit against Delaware in Superior Court in 2022, alleging the state failed to follow administrative procedures when switching retirees’ health care coverage to Medicare Advantage without their input. While the state argued the switch would decrease Delaware’s unmanageable unfunded liability, retirees feared it would result in being denied care and a group banded together to stop the change from occurring.” 

ACTIONS TO TAKE: What You Can Do This Week. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are leading a letter alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-CT) urging the Biden administration to increase data transparency, regulation and enforcement of the Medicare Advantage program. Please reach out to House offices and select Senate offices on this issue. Here is a toolkit with more information.

Finally, IT’S NOT A RUMOR: Republicans Are Planning to Totally Privatize Medicare -- And Fast If Donald Trump becomes president again, Republicans' 2025 policy agenda will “greatly accelerate” efforts to privatize Medicare


Opinion: It’s a Myth that Top Economists Don’t Support Rent Control

“Once again, the National Multifamily Housing Council is pushing outdated, obsolete ideas to protect the obscene profits of the country’s largest corporate landlords. …

What should be trusted is economic consensus. Recently, a group of 32 top economists wrote a letter to the Biden administration saying that rent control is an effective tool to protect the poor and middle and working class. The economists also said that the real estate industry’s anti-rent control arguments are archaic and wrong. This is a major development in the rent control debate.”

Why U.S. renters are taking corporate landlords to court

“RealPage told CNBC that its landlord customers are under no obligation to take their price suggestions. The company also said it charges a fixed fee on each apartment unit managed with its software. RealPage was acquired by Miami-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $10.2 billion in 2021. In court filings, Thoma Bravo has claimed that it is not liable for the alleged acts of its subsidiary outlined by plaintiffs in the class-action complaints. Renters told CNBC they discovered how revenue management software is used in real estate after reading a 2022 ProPublica investigation. Equity Residential investor materials show that the company started to experiment with Lease Rent Options between 2005 and 2008. RealPage acquired the product in 2017.”


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...