The legislature kicks off this week. What's happening, what to do.

maryland_state_house.jpgThe General Assembly 2022 Session begins Wednesday. It's an election year. Need we say more? Legislators are not allowed to raise money during the session, but they will be tempted to perform like crazy in hopes of future money between the end of the session in April and the all-important primary elections in late June.

We have some preliminary accounts and tools for navigating that and making sure the people's business, not the lobbyists' business, gets done.

The General Assembly 2022 Session begins Wednesday. It's an election year. Need we say more? Legislators are not allowed to raise money during the session, but they will be tempted to perform like crazy in hopes of future money between the end of the session in April and the all-important primary elections in late June.

We have some preliminary accounts and tools for navigating the Session opening and making sure the people's business, not the lobbyists' business, gets done.

Our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition have a rundown on the most significant hearings set for the next two weeks.

From MD Matters: “Lobbyists and advocates said they are grateful to legislative leaders for literally and figuratively reopening the legislature’s doors, but some are also frustrated at the Senate’s plan to cease livestreaming committee voting sessions.” A full account here. There are many tools to follow -- and influence -- the Session here.

And though the Assembly members may not exactly be transparency personified themselves, they sure want Guv Larry to stop operating behind the electronic veil with official correspondence that vanishes after use.

Compensation is going up for many – though not enough – during the labor crunch and flock of unfilled jobs in the state and elsewhere. There don’t seem to be many unfilled slots in the General Assembly (levels of effectiveness may be a different question) – but should they get a pay increase too? A commission is recommending one.

The folks at the Maryland Association of Counties, represented mostly local governments and their elected officials, may not always be wholly on our side but they know the General Assembly Session ropes; here is their info site.

Important news since last Monday's Memo:

A $46 billion federal program enacted by Congress to prevent evictions during the coronavirus pandemic got off to a sluggish start last year, but is now distributing cash so quickly that many states are running out of money, endangering millions of struggling tenants who depend on the support.

Jan 7 Maryland legislators passed a bill to guarantee a lawyer for any tenant facing an eviction procedure in court -- but never managed to fund it. They are planning to do better.prospects https://www.marylandmatters.org/2022/01/07/lawmakers-vow-renewed-push-for-tenant-protections-in-2022-session/

Tuesday Jan 4 -- STUDY: STATE's EARLY COVID MEASURES IMPACTED ECONOMY: COVID-19 mitigation measures taken in the first 13 months of the pandemic weighed heavily on Maryland’s economy and workforce, a new report by the independent, nonpartisan think tank Georgia Center for Opportunity. It ranked Maryland No. 11 in its analysis, “Assessing Each State’s Response to the Pandemic: Understanding the Impact on Employment and Work.” David Fidlin/The Center Square for Maryland Reporter.

  • Hogan also announced that the state will provide two hours of paid leave to incentivize government employees to get their COVID-19 booster shots. This policy will be applied retroactively to employees who have proof they’ve been boosted. Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.

Of interest from StreetsBlog: Next City predicts that fare-free transit will catch on in 2022.

At the federal level: “Senators and White House officials have said privately that they are giving Senator Manchin a cooling off period on Build Back Better and they intend to return to the bill after their big push on voting rights this week,” our allies at People’s Action report. The Senate goes on recess the week of the 17th. So “Senators and President Biden will be pushing hard to pass voting rights legislation this week as Majority Leader Schumer said he intends to debate rules changes after Republicans block the voting rights legislation once again.” Getting election law-specific workarounds to the filibuster blockade and engaging Sens. Manchin and Sinema in the effort is priority. Next MON Jan 17th: People’s Action has endorsed the Deliver for Voting Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Action, which includes mobilizations in DC and AZ.