NUCU_logo_new.pngGov. Moore testifies on his own bill (Housing) to an Assembly committee; coming up five weeks to go till sine die (that's when the legislators go home, finished or not). The latest on Maryland, good (grants for behavioral health work; licensing speedups) and bad (wow, who forgot to put the updated tax assessment notices in the mail?). Plus what other states are doing and what we can learn from that, and the circus that is the US House of Representatives continues to entertain right up to the edge of shutdown. Will they slip?



Moore Says Housing Proposal Will Work ‘Hand-In-Hand’ With Local Jurisdictions Gov. Wes Moore (D) said his housing proposal will give “incentives…not mandates” to local jurisdictions as the administration tries to address Maryland’s ongoing housing shortage. “This is a piece of legislation that is not heavy-handed, it really more works hand-in-hand,” Moore said during his first appearance before a legislative committee this General Assembly session. “We’ve wanted to make sure that every aspect… really showed that we planned on working with local jurisdictions.” Maryland Matters

The General Assembly is About to Enter March facing an April 8 sine die. Many committees are still chewing their way through bills that might not see a floor vote in either chamber till the last frantic days (our legislators pick up a fine sense of the theatrical as their tenure lengthens)

So here are some important upcoming hearings, courtesy of our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition. And of course they have their favorites that need help getting through the grinder.


Maryland’s Local Governments Face ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ In Lost Property Tax Revenue Due To Mailing Snafu : Local governments face hundreds of millions in lower property tax collections after a state agency missed a key mailing deadline. The State Department of Assessments and Taxation failed to mail about 107,000 updated property tax assessments before the deadline at the end of last year, according to senior state lawmakers. Left unfixed, county governments might receive a quarter of a billion dollars less in anticipated property tax revenue over a three-year period. Maryland Matters


Speeding Up Licensing Process In State Government: Whether it’s a hunting license, an elevator inspection certificate or a storm water permit necessary for a business, Maryland departments play a role in the processes of obtaining them. The state’s governor and legislators are trying to make those all run a little easier for residents. The Hagerstown Herald Mail, via Maryland Reporter.


State To Hand Out $111M In Behavioral Health Care Grants About $111 million will begin rolling out this year to provide a variety of health care services for families and their children as part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan. Some 129 grants submitted to the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, which serves as a fiscal agent for the consortium, which was established by the General Assembly in 2021 as part of the Blueprint plan. The consortium is responsible for developing a statewide framework to expand access for behavioral health services for Maryland students. The $111 million comes from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future fund. Maryland Matters


Uh-oh. Larry Hogan’s trying to get back on our radar. Here’s a response:  Hogan's Vetoes Speak Volumes: During his eight years as governor, Gov. Larry Hogan left an official record of where he stands on critical issues — his vetoes of state legislation perhaps serving as the clearest expression of his policy positions, as he seeks to move to a legislative position as a U.S. senator. Commentary from Maryland Matters





The National Fight for Rent Control: Just eight years after it was declared a dead issue in 2017,  rent control is back from the dead with a vengeance, with serious organizing campaigns underway in at least 15 states. There are campaigns to strengthen and expand existing rent regulation statutes in coastal cities, to lift statewide pre-emption laws in the Midwest, and to instate local control of rents in Western and even Southern states. From Protean via Portside.


EPA Expands Water Program To Help More Disadvantaged Communities Apply For Grants

 Many communities lack the resources necessary to conduct the technical assessments needed to win federal grants. The EPA wants to help. The administration announced Thursday that it will be expanding a program offering small disadvantaged communities help in applying for $50 billion in infrastructure act funding to improve drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services. Route Fifty


Feds Preach Vigilance Amid Multiple Physical, Cyber Threats Against Election Officials

In response, agencies as varied as CISA and the Postal Inspection Service are offering a slew of free and low-cost resources in a bid to help states and localities keep issues under control. Route Fifty


HOUSING: Blue states are considering proposals to spur short-term vacation rental owners to convert to long-term models or face higher tax rates, as cities face a housing crunch. Lawmakers in Hawaii, Colorado, Maine and Washington are all weighing either allowing localities to levy short-term rental taxes or creating tax incentives for longer-term tenants. (Pluribus News)


Should Communities That Suppress Housing Lose Their Road Funding? A Colorado bill would require sprawling cities to take action to increase their affordable housing supply before they collect money to build more roads — and some want to take it national. Streetsblog

HOUSING, RINSE, REPEAT: The Washington Senate approved legislation requiring cities to remove regulations that block development of small apartments with shared common spaces. A previous version of the bill won unanimous passages in the House. Rents on single-room occupancy buildings are about $500 less than a typical studio apartment in Seattle. (Seattle Times) via Pluribus


PUBLIC HEALTH: The Kansas House unanimously approved legislation to shield people from prosecution when they call emergency services to report an overdose. Kansas is one of just two states — along with Wyoming — that does not have a so-called Good Samaritan law on the books. (Topeka Capital-Journal) via Pluribus




Prepping for a Shutdown, Continuing Resolution: As Washington moves closer to a shutdown, President Biden is set to meet with the “Big Four” House and Senate leaders to discuss government funding and a stalled aid package to Ukraine and Israel. Congressional negotiators are racing to avoid a partial funding lapse on March 2, and had hoped to release legislative text of a temporary spending agreement Sunday night. But a slipped deadline turned into public sniping. Semafor’s Monday story. The WaPo early 202 added “[Speaker Johnson  also faces discontent from many others in his conference who want him to make a decision [that Democrats can vote for], keep the government open and stop placating the far-right minority.” Here is a roundup of the other poison pills Freedom Caucus types want to add to make the bill unpassable, compiled by Public Citizen.

Rep. Andy Harris, no surprise, is behind some of the worst poison pill items pushed by the righter Right in the House: From Politico Playbook: 

“A lapse of funding for the first tranche of bills would threaten food assistance and housing support for needy families, hurt farmers and veterans, and potentially cause travel delays at airports, Schumer wrote. Behind the scenes, GOP negotiators have been pushing for several contentious policy riders, per our colleague Caitlin Emma: (1) cuts to agriculture programs and limits on how USDA spends money, (2) a ban on mail delivery of abortion medication and (3) a pilot program proposed by Rep. ANDY HARRIS (R-Md.) that would restrict SNAP food aid purchases.”


And some other outrages, thanks to Megan E, federal affairs analyst at People’s Action: How the housing industry is working to stop energy efficient homes

Home builders have used their political muscle to prevent states and cities from adopting the latest code, which would lower the climate impact of new houses. We definitely saw this happen in Maryland, when the contractors and builders influence (and lobbyists) had a requirement for all-electric new buildings stripped out of 2022’s big climate bill.


Everybody who is anybody is backing down: The New York Times: More Wall Street Firms Are Flip-Flopping on Climate. Here’s Why.

Financial giants were already trimming their climate pledges amid Republican attacks. Then came concerns about legal risks.


Showing How It’s Done: Six Years Into Rent Strike, Tenants Union Will Battle Landlord in LA Court. Their efforts have also been notable for the radical demand they have placed on the city: expropriation. Since May of 2019, the tenants have demanded that the local government use the process of eminent domain to take the building from the landlord and keep it permanently affordable. But the new year also brings a new battlefield: eviction court. The stakes have never been higher, as 35 families have now been served unlawful detainers, the legal term for eviction. The first batch of lawsuits was filed in September 2023, and the latest ones were filed and served to tenants just days before Christmas of the same year.


The AI circus: As Use of A.I. Soars, So Does the Energy and Water It Requires  -- Generative artificial intelligence uses massive amounts of energy for computation and data storage and billions of gallons of water to cool the equipment at data centers. Now, legislators and regulators — in the U.S. and the EU — are starting to demand accountability. The Conversation

73%: The share of American adults who live in households with no landline telephone, according to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Twenty years ago, just 3% of American adults had no landline. (Associated Press) via Pluribus


“Russia’s 2024 election interference has already begun,” by NBC’s Dan De Luce and Kevin Collier: “The dissemination of attacks using fake online accounts and bots to damage President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, according to former U.S. officials and cyber experts. is part of a continuing effort by Moscow to undercut American military aid to Ukraine and U.S. support for and solidarity with NATO, experts said.” POLITICO Playbook

 And more from UK’s The Guardian: US Leading Global Alliance To Counter Foreign Government Disinformation Washington hopes more countries will join US, UK and Canada in signing agreement to define, identify and label such operations


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...