News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngTime to ask what’s getting left undone in the General Assembly: Rent relief and access to care

Maryland’s leaders are looking the other way on the question of shelter affordability. Who benefits? Greedy landlords.  

And Maryland's leaders are ignoring over a quarter-million Marylanders whose immigration status makes it hard-to-impossib le for them to qualify for health care.

Find out about these holes in the process -- and more -- in News You Can Use from Progressive Maryland...

Time to ask what’s getting left undone: Rent relief and access to care

Maryland’s leaders are looking the other way on the question of shelter affordability. Who benefits? Greedy landlords.  

Assembly Comes Through with Insulting Token for Rental Assistance At Last Minute

Last Wednesday, No State Money Budgeted For Emergency Rental Aid: The Maryland General Assembly appeared poised to send an FY24 budget to Gov. Wes Moore’s desk that has zero dollars allotted for emergency rental assistance. Both chambers have approved the version of the budget containing no rental assistance, even though federal money for pandemic-related rental assistance is being phased out. Baltimore Fishbowl. CASA de Maryland raged at the time that “With federal funds running out and evictions returning to pre-pandemic rates, Maryland’s elected leaders have ignored the calls from tenants, advocates, service providers, and seven county executives who called for $175M in the FY 2024 budget to continue funding emergency rental assistance.”  But Monday, $2m Added To Budget For Emergency Rental Aid: Maryland lawmakers quietly added $2 million for emergency rental assistance in the final hours of budget negotiations on Friday, a fraction of what housing advocates have said will be necessary to avoid a mounting eviction crisis in the state. The Maryland Emergency Rental Assistance Coalition had repeatedly called on the governor and the General Assembly to provide $175 million in emergency rental assistance.  Baltimore Banner. [PAYWALL Summary via the Maryland Reporter]

What is pushing up rents? Collusion. Our national affiliate People’s Action passes along in its Monday newsblast that software is enabling “cartel-like” price fixing among landlords nationwide:

“A ProPublica investigation revealed how some of the nation’s biggest landlords share proprietary information with RealPage, a Texas company whose software uses the data to recommend rent prices for available units. Legal experts say the arrangement may facilitate cartel-like behavior.

Now, RealPage has responded to questions from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Tina Smith and Ed Markey. The company’s answers, the lawmakers said, revealed “alarming” new details. In a letter to the Department of Justice, the senators said the [insufficient] answers the company did give raise concerns that its software may play a role in driving rent inflation in some of the country’s biggest markets, and…is used in pricing more than 4 million units, representing about 8% of all rental units nationwide. This could result in de-facto price-setting by those companies, driving up prices and hurting renters,” the senators’ letter said.


What else is ignored as the Assembly rushes to finish? Maryland’s part-time General Assembly seems to be devoting only part of its attention to the actual needs of Marylanders: health care, education, jobs with good wages, and affordable housing.


 Undocumented Seek Passage Of Bill Expanding Health Insurance: Underneath a gray sky on Friday morning, dozens of undocumented people and their allies gathered outside the statehouse in Annapolis. They chanted and urged their senators to pass a bill that would expand health insurance access to 275,000 undocumented people across Maryland. The Access to Care Act would allow people with any immigration status to apply for insurance through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Fund, commonly called the ‘Open Marketplace.’ The bill has passed the House with a 100-38 vote but is stalled in the Senate.  WYPR-FM.

Butler Confirmed As State Police Superintendent: The controversial nominee to lead the Maryland State Police was confirmed by the Senate on Friday. The confirmation of retired Lt. Col. Roland Butler comes two days after the Senate Executive Nominations Committee announced an unusual solution to break the logjam. Maryland Matters. The appointment of Butler, who had been serving in an acting role since January, had been in question as senators expressed concerns about his ability to reform the embattled agency. The Baltimore Sun.

Friday Marked International Transgender Day of Visibility, and while anti-transgender legislation is being introduced across the country, Montgomery County experienced a week of vocal support for LGBTQ+ residents from the County Council, school board and a local grassroots organization. MoCo 360.

Low Wages Stress Overworked Health Workers: Some of the region’s lowest paid health workers across Baltimore say they are underpaid and overworked as the Covid-19 pandemic that has lingered for the past three years, continues to stress the medical system. WYPR-FM.

Gov. Moore Backs Big New Offshore Wind Goal For Maryland During remarks at an offshore wind convention Wednesday in Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore shared his administration’s new “ambitious, but achievable” goal for turbines off the state’s coast: 8.5 gigawatts of power. A spokesman for the Democratic governor said he plans to sign the POWER Act, which would mandate the 8.5 gigawatt goal be realized by 2031, if the General Assembly passes it. Baltimore Sun. And here is nationwide context about progress on renewables from States News Service via Maryland Matters.

Private School Scholarship Dispute Ends, Moving $63b Budget Forward: Maryland House and Senate budget negotiators resolved a short-lived dispute over education funding Friday afternoon and passed a final version of the state’s $63-plus billion spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1. The budget bills will now go back to the House and Senate chambers today for a final up or down vote. Maryland Matters. The deal ends a simmering, weeks-long fight over whether to continue the program in its current form or begin to unwind it. With the stalemate resolved — and $9 million designated for the scholarship program — the state’s $63 billion budget is able to head toward final passage in the next few days. The budget dramatically increases the state’s education spending overall. WaPo

Ademola Oyefeso of the United Food and Commercial Workers international union fumes that Maryland legislators quietly completed a legislative betrayal that abandons Maryland workers in favor of corporate CEOs.  The Senate Finance Committee voted 5-3 against workers’ interests by eliminating labor peace agreements as a condition of licensure in the emerging cannabis industry in Maryland.”

Today’s the deadline for passing the Maryland state budget. The Pew Trust researchers have provided a chart that shows where states, including our own, get their money: very instructive, we would say.


More outrages from Megan Essaheb, who watches misbehavior at the federal level for People’s Action: As the COVID-19 public health emergency will end on May 11th, states will no longer receive extra federal funds to keep people enrolled in Medicaid. States will be requiring people to resubmit proof that they are eligible and there are big concerns that many people who are still eligible will be kicked off of Medicaid because they do not find out about the requirements to re-register in time. According to Axios: “Five conservative-led states will begin culling their Medicaid rolls this weekend, kicking off a process that could lead to nearly 15 million people losing coverage over the next year… Most states are expected to follow suit this summer, beginning terminations between May and July.”

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...