Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I am an avid reader. I recently read Six Crises by Richard Nixon, a book he wrote between his unsucessful 1960 presidential campaign and unsuccessful campaign for California Governor in 1962. Nixon is certainly not my favorite president--although like many disappointing presidents he has risen in estimation in the past few years--but his book title overlaps with our state and country's current condition. In my view, we are concurrently facing six acute crises:
1. Institutional and Historic Racism: This crisis has lingered for four hundred years, but the recent murder of George Floyd and the outpouring of our fellow citizens' support for the Black Lives Matters movement and necessary, significant reform and change has brought it to renewed public attention. In the legislature, Speaker Adrienne Jones has appointed a work group to come up with meaningful legislative reforms for when we reconvene in January.
2. COVID-19: Even as we ease COVID-19 related restrictions, the virus will be with us for the foreseeable future and will have a significant impact on how we work, travel, and spend our leisure time. We will eventually get through it but we need to physically distance, wear masks, wash our hands, and take other protective measures.
3. Political: The first two crises lead directly into the third, which is the complete lack of federal executive branch leadership from our failed president. First Lady Michelle Obama described her husband's job in her memoir as to “somehow take the chaos and metabolize it into calm leadership—every day of the week, every week of the year.” The current, failed president seems to view his job as catalyzing the chaos. Sadly, the Congressional Republicans seem hellbent on supporting the failed president. Thankfully, in this country we have quadrennial elections and a chance to restore some sanity to the White House. The troublesome Maryland primary election is a cautionary tale for how the national election can go wrong in the age of COVID-19, especially with a White House intent on undermining the safest way to vote: by mail.
4. Economic: The COVID-19 related restrictions have contributed to a significant recession. While we all hope it is short-lived, the lingering restrictions and COVID-19 impacts will likely not lead to an immediate bounce back. Moreover, COVID-19 is quickening the pace of many economic changes we were already experiencing: increased telecommuting; more automation; less need for business travel; and more online sales/delivery. Many Marylanders will have trouble paying their bills and taking care of their families. This will also impact Maryland's budget--how we pay for schools, healthcare, and more--because unlike the federal government, the state has to maintain a balanced budget.
5. Income Inequality: All of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19 comes on top of historic income inequity that is only exacerbated by the current situation. Remote learning, especially for younger students, cannot match the in-person experience and those difficulties are heightened by income inequality with families that do not have Internet connections, laptops, extra tutors, and more to at least try and make up the gap. Much of what we do in Annapolis related to education, healthcare, economic development and more is driven by the need to address income inequality.
6. Climate: And all five crises exist against the backdrop of climate change, which impacts global pandemics, natural disasters, the economy and more. As with income inequality, climate impacts many of the policy issues we spend time on in Annapolis, including those related to the environment and transportation. COVID-19 and its disruptions is, in some ways, a trial run for the potential havoc climate change will have on our society in the future.
None of this is to say there are not other challenges or issues we need to deal with, just that at the present moment these six crises are quite severe. I do not have all of the answers to each of these crises myself, but I know they will govern our work in the Maryland General Assembly in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. I will offer my own policy ideas for each, but one of the benefits to the state legislature is specialization, and I have the benefit of looking to many other leaders to help guide the way on each of these issues as well.
As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
Many of you are trying to navigate the state's unemployment system, which was simply not equipped for the volume or complexity of the current caseload. The Department of Labor website is your entryway for unemployment benefits. If you are having trouble with unemployment and live in District 16, you can fill out our District 16 constituent service Google form for assistance here. The District 16 Team has been in regular contact with the Department of Labor to try and resolve individual cases.
The Department of Legislative Services has published the 71 Day Report--instead of its usual 90 Day Report--summarizing the work of the 2020 legislative session. You can read the report here.
The Transportation & Environment Appropriations Subcommittee I chair held a briefing on the Maryland Department of Transportation and the impact of COVID-19. You can watch the full hearing here and read an article about the briefing here. The Department is also publishing statistics regarding transportation services impacted by COVID-19 such as weekly traffic; port container traffic; and BWI Airport passengers.
During the last two legislative sessions, I have sponsored legislation regarding the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), a proposed regional cap and trade program for the transportation sector similar to an existing one for power plants. Greater Greater Washington recently published an explainer article on the program.
The Board of Revenue Estimates (BRE) is comprised of the Comptroller, Treasurer, and State Budget Secretary and sets consensus revenue estimates for the state of Maryland that govern our budget process. The BRE met in May to discuss consensus revenue estimates and you can see the projections here.
The Board of Public Works--made up of the Governor, Comptroller, and Treasurer--is empowered to make certain budget cuts when the legislature is not in session to maintain the constitutionally required balanced budget. On May 20th such cuts were made. Because of the BPW Transparency Act I sponsored in 2016, the proposed cuts have to be posted ahead of time. You can review the budget cuts that were made on page 35 of the BPW's May 20th agenda.
- District 16's Anna Palmisano published an op-ed about what our nursing homes need in the age of COVID-19. You can read it here.
- Diana Conway from District 16 recently published an op-ed in Maryland Matters about the current protest movement. You can read it online.
- Congratulations to Sue Schumacher of District 16 on her re-election as 2nd Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Civic Federation.
- Former County Councilmember and District 16 resident Bruce Adams is back at the helm of Bethesda Big Train and Bethesda Beat has the story.
- On July 6th at 7:30am, the Bethesda Chevy Chase Democratic Breakfast Club will be convening via Zoom to hear from the Montgomery County Senate Delegation Chair, Craig Zucker, and me. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to get the link.
If you know of a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences or an upcoming event, please email email@example.com.