With the Inflation Reduction Act expected to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, Maryland Democrats are touting the impact that the legislation, including the billions and billions of dollars of competitive funds that are up for grabs, could have on the state.
At a Thursday news conference in Baltimore, Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore, the Democratic nominee for comptroller, lauded the passage of the bill, stressing that it is now the state’s job to ensure it takes advantage of the grants that make up a significant portion of the 755-page bill.
She cited $3 billion set aside for reducing emissions at ports as one grant the state could use. Lierman’s district includes the Port of Baltimore, where nearby neighborhoods and port workers alike suffer due to emissions.
She also emphasized that Maryland needs to partner with local organizations and leaders to make sure citizens are aware of tax credits the act makes available to them, saying that the credits aren’t effective incentives if Marylanders aren’t aware they qualify to take advantage of them.
“A tax credit sitting on the shelf isn’t doing anyone any good, and it’s not cleaning our environment,” she said. “Our federal partners delivered for Maryland and now we as Maryland leaders need to make sure we’re delivering for our communities.”
For some Democrats, the legislation serves as a jumping-off point for even greater goals. Aruna Miller, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor alongside gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore, said that, if elected, Moore would aim to surpass climate goals laid out in the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill aims to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 40% by 2030 by offering tax incentives to people who switch to sustainable sources of energy, like solar or wind power. Moore’s administration, Miller said, would instead shoot for 60% in that same time frame, with the ultimate goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2045.
Additionally, Miller said, Moore’s climate platform would focus on preserving the state’s waterways, combating pollution, and appointing a chief sustainability, mitigation and resilience officer.
In terms of health care, Miller said, that she and Moore would expand Inflation Reduction Act drug pricing regulations for Medicare beneficiaries to other Marylanders as well.
“The Inflation Reduction Act, coupled with the efforts of Maryland’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board … will review costs and set limits on prescription drugs, explore bulk buying tools and leverage the state’s purchasing power to drive down costs,” she said. “Maryland’s seniors will see lower prices as a result of this bill, but it only applies to Medicare recipients. Wes Moore and I are committed to expanding this coverage by working with Maryland legislators.”
Additionally, Miller and Lierman praised the U.S. senators for Maryland, Democrats Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both of whom were present at the news conference for their work on the Inflation Reduction Act and other recent legislation. Van Hollen authored two climate-related provisions in the act.
The impact of the bill may also ricochet into next years’ legislative priorities for health care and environmental lobbyists. Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Health Care for All, said that a measure in the bill that allows Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies will be an asset in achieving the organization’s goals.
“Our priority at Health Care for All is going to be to give the Prescription Drug Affordability Board the authority it needs to make high-cost drugs more affordable for everybody. This bill helps because when Medicare negotiates with the drug companies and sets what they’re going to pay … that can be guidance on, what are upper payment limits?” he said, echoing Miller. “This law protects everybody on Medicare. We’re going to expand that to all Marylanders.”
Jamie DeMarco, Vincent DeMarco’s son and the federal and Maryland policy director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said that his organization’s focus, regarding the Inflation Reduction Act, will be to work with legislators to find the best uses for the federal funds.
“Usually, if we want to implement a good program, we have to think of a way to pay for it,” he said. “Now, we have heaps of money, (and) we need to have community-led, informed decisions around the best way to spend those funds.”