In Maryland, elections continue to break glad for Democrats and in fact around the country (some counties still counting, tho)... Hogan's signature superhighways (with tolls) will be at the mercy of a new all-Dem Board of Public Works... Maryland's schools are so-so in the national ratings but forging ahead on reform with both state and federal financial backup... Maryland's state workers are at an all-time low across state agencies; a good way to save money? ... at the national level, health care and housing continue to be top priorities for working families. It's all in News You Can Use. Read on....
Moore’s Win Was Historic, By the Numbers: By the time voting ended in Maryland’s election this month, it had been clear for weeks Democrat Wes Moore would likely come away with a historic victory. The full scope of that win is just now coming into focus. While mail-in and provisional ballots are still being tallied in some counties, Moore is on track to win by a landslide of at least 31 percentage points, the largest margin since Democrat William Donald Schaefer won 82% of the vote in 1986 for the first of his two terms as governor. Baltimore Sun.
Transition Efforts Expand: Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller (D), the head of the transition team for Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D), announced Thursday that the transition effort is expanding. The transition team is adding two new steering committee members and has also identified the people who will lead the Transition Policy Committee. The co-chairs will lead nine policy committees with a total of 208 members. And Moore on Friday named three deputy chiefs of staff and an assistant chief of staff. Appointed as deputy chiefs of staff: Jonny Dorsey, Shaina Hernandez and Lucinda Ware. Andy Parker will serve as assistant chief of staff. MD Matters.
Fitzwater Overcomes Hough for Frederick Exec: Jessica Fitzwater, a Democrat, has been elected Frederick County executive, according to unofficial election results from the Frederick County Board of Elections on Friday. Fitzwater, who has represented the east side of Frederick on the County Council since 2014, defeated Maryland state Sen. Michael Hough, a Republican who has represented Frederick and Carroll counties since 2015. Frederick News Post.
The good vibrations just kept coming for Maryland Democrats Friday, as final tallies of mail-in ballots showed them winning two hotly-contested state Senate elections and the race for Frederick County executive, among others. The final results also saw a Democratic sweep of all countywide offices in purple Anne Arundel County, along with the end of the 40-year Kittleman dynasty in Howard County. Md Matters.
But the beat goes on -- Elections Workers Still Counting Through Friday: Maryland election officials in several large counties blew past Friday’s normal deadline for certifying last week’s election results, digging out from an onslaught of mail-in votes as some races remained undecided 10 days after Election Day. Headed into Thursday morning, more than 115,000 mail-in ballots — roughly 1 in 5 — had not been tallied statewide, according to the most recent data from the Maryland Board of Elections. WaPo
Red and blue counties in Maryland remained consistent in the gubernatorial race, Capital News Service (UMCP J-school) writers report. That’s despite the fact that “Maryland is not as gerrymandered as it used to be,” another of four take-aways they extract from the recent election results.
Out of state, sort of... From SemaFor newsletter last Wednesday: Manchin targeted by Mooney: Republicans want to flip Sen. Joe Manchin’s, D-W.Va., seat next election cycle. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W. Va. is planning to run.” Our take here in Maryland: Well, sure, Manchin was a maximum pain and hot-dogging showoff as Biden tried to get some serious work done on climate (not a priority for the Manchin family business). But just wait until Manchin’s opposition research squad gathers a bundle of backstory about Mooney’s wacko gamesmanship in the Maryland General Assembly 3rd Dist.when he operated in Frederick County. Rich pickins.
Hogan’s Interstate toll lanes will wait for Moore & Co – the clock appears to have run out on completing that project with GOP oversight.
The Maryland Department of Transportation will not seek approval of a multibillion-dollar contract to build toll lanes on Interstates 270 and 495 until after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has left office, the agency announced on Thursday.
The decision is a significant blow to the long-planned project, one of Hogan’s top transportation priorities, as its fate will soon rest with three Democrats, Gov.-elect Wes Moore, Treasurer Dereck Davis and Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman, the three worthies who will rule on public spending. MD Matters
The reporting squad at Capital News Service seems to have a penchant for “four take-aways” – here, they examine Maryland students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests that showed county-wide declines in learning during the pandemic. Maryland students are “in the pack,” clustered in the broad average (that is, just as diminished by COVID as in the middle 35 or so states), “The state performed the best compared to other states in eighth-grade reading and lagged behind in fourth-grade math.” A divide between white and Hispanic students widened and rural students did better than urban students. The CNS article doesn’t pursue the reasons, but pressures to reopen classroom learning varied rural-urban and Hispanic families may have disproportionately included “essential workers,” leaving students self-supervised at home without internet access.
Members of a Maryland body created to oversee the state’s $3.8 billion massive education reform draft plan Want To Assure Residents, Educators And Other Stakeholders That They Are Listening.
Former Montgomery County exec Ike Leggett, who chairs the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board, summarized his thoughts during a virtual session Thursday, a week after 49 people testified during two public hearings. Everyone in the process has the goal, he said, “to get students to achieve the highest standards possible.”
Education Blueprint Prioritizes Community Schools: Wolfe Street Academy Principal Mark Gaither runs a community school. It’s at the core of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act, the multi-billion-dollar public education reform plan, enacted in 2021. The new law prioritizes pockets of poverty, giving schools services they need to thrive. Gaither says academic success depends on considering the whole family and problems like nutrition, health, and unemployment, food and housing insecurity.MD Matters.
Vacancies At State Agencies At 'Historical High:' The Spending Affordability Committee of the Maryland General Assembly looked ahead at the state’s budget over the next several years during a virtual meeting Tuesday, and while a surplus is projected, many state agencies have hundreds of positions unfilled. Tonya Zimmerman, a senior policy analyst at the state’s Department of Legislative Services, called the vacancy rates “historically high” when asked to compare the rates over time. Dwight Weingarten/The Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
Is this connected to high state employee vacancies? Pluribus News reports "Of the 24 states where jobless rates rose from September to October, Maryland had the largest increase, according to the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics]. Rates there rose from 4% to 4.5%, or 0.5 percentage points. Rates rose 0.3 percentage points in Oregon and Rhode Island, bringing the jobless rates in those states to 4.1% and 3.4%, respectively.
Rates were stable in the remaining states and fell slightly in Pennsylvania, from 4.1% to 4.0%.
NATIONAL ACTION, D.C. AND ELSEWHERE
Georgia voters can, for now, vote early this coming Saturday as a state circuit judge ruled against the state's attempt to ban it for arcane reasons. An appeal may get action this week. Stay tuned. Your reward for staying tuned: Tuesday morning's latest from POLITICO Playbook: RUNOFF REPORT — “Saturday voting upheld in Georgia U.S. Senate runoff,” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Niesse: “The Georgia Court of Appeals has denied an attempt to stop early voting on Saturday for the U.S. Senate runoff, a ruling that allows counties to open polling places after the Thanksgiving holiday. The court’s one-sentence decision Monday evening was a victory for Democratic U.S. Sen. RAPHAEL WARNOCK’s campaign, which along with the Democratic Party of Georgia sued to ensure the weekend voting opportunity.”
Our national affiliate People’s Action’s Care Over Cost campaign held a direct action at the Indianapolis headquarters of the private insurance company “Elevance” formerly called Blue Cross Blue Shield Anthem demanding that the company stop wrongfully denying claims. Elevance is now the largest private insurer in the U.S. The US government doesn’t have data on claims denials for employer-provided plans, the data is available for Marketplace plans, which cover around 3 percent of Americans. “An analysis of 2020 data found insurers deny roughly 1 in 5 in-network claims, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.”
Separately, Elevance Health tried to get a lawsuit against them dismissed, but the judge denied it. The U.S. Department of Justice sued Elevance alleging Medicare fraud in the amount of $100 million. Not a good week for the corporate giant whose CEO was paid $19 million last year alone!
The Homes Guarantee campaign led a delegation to DC of 100 tenants to demand that the President meet with them to discuss rent inflation and their demands that the administration regulate rent. People's Action's #homesguarantee campaign drafted an executive order for Biden to sign, supported by 247 tenant organizations. The tenants held a rally in front of the White House and a Congressional briefing hosted by the offices of Senator Warren, Representatives Cori Bush, Chuy Garcia and Jamaal Bowman.
Climate -- At the COP27 summit in Egypt, countries reached an historic deal on a “loss and damage fund” for poorer countries that have contributed fewer carbon emissions but experience the brunt of damage from climate change. However, pledges to cut emissions and go renewable lagged, putting the 1.5 centigrade warming cap nearly out of reach. This imperative hits every state, including Maryland, and means the state should be sure-footed about having mitigation strategies ready for the federal dollars available.
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