2013 Legislative Issues
Karyn Molines, chief of Calvert County’s Natural Resources Division, has spent her first year in county government reviewing the land that the county maintains and is a proponent of using the land and facilities for outdoor recreation and education.
According to Calvert Currents,
Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary, Flag Ponds Nature Park and Kings Landing Park each offer a range of ways to appreciate nature through trails, water access, picnic areas and recreational facilities. Another aspect of the county’s natural resources facilities is a focus on education. Naturalists work at the parks to provide educational programs for adults and children, bringing people to a natural classroom that allows them to see and sometimes touch the things about which they are learning.
Calvert County’s nature parks are peerless examples of the ecological diversity found in Southern Maryland. Each offers significant opportunities for outdoor learning and compatible recreation.
- Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary: 100 acres of one of the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in the United States.
- Flag Ponds Nature Park: 500 acres of natural area on the Chesapeake Bay from beach to upland.
- Kings Landing Park: More than 265 acres of natural area on the Patuxent River including 4,000 feet of river shoreline and 50 acres of marshland.
- Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm: Still under development, this site is rich in natural and cultural resources and is a living laboratory to explore, understand and experience Calvert County’s agricultural practices and lifestyles throughout its history.
MACo is pleased to announce its list of session titles for the 2013 Summer Conference, “Bringing it All Back Home,” scheduled for August 14-17. For the full schedule and session descriptions, please download the Summer Conference Registration Brochure:
- Keynote Presentation – How Talent and Culture Create Jobs (sponsored by LGIT)
- Preserving Partnerships in Times of Fiscal Federalism
- Emphasizing Arts and Culture for Entertainment, Enrichment, and the Economy
- Schoolyard & Beyond: Understanding and Standing Up to Bullying
- Governor’s Address
- Building Diversity Into Your Business Base
- Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – Financing Stormwater Infrastructure
- Health Care Reform and Local Health Departments: Opportunities for Achieving Success
- Local Sports Venues: Making Play Pay
- Bridging the Digital Disconnect
- Agricultural Tourism: A High Yield Investment
- Accounting for Growth: Finding & Funding Development Offsets
- Aiding All Ages: Multiple Models for Making a Difference
- Gazing Into the Crystal Ball: Benefits of Long-term Budget Planning
- Time for a Check-up? County Compliance with the Affordable Care Act
- Eds, Beds, Feds, & Meds: Economic Drivers for Maryland’s Counties
- Don’t Throw That Out! Moving to Zero Waste in Maryland?
- Vouching for Volunteer Companies
- Getting to “YES” with GIS: What Digital Mapping Technology Can Do for You
- Tourism Works
- A Conversation with Former Governor Harry Hughes
- Who Gets to Sue? Maryland’s Shifting Faultline
- Justice Reinvestment Initiative – Better Outcomes & Better Budgets
- Our Community Colleges – Fueling the Workforce
Academy for Excellence in Local Governance Core Sessions:
- Employment Issues (Core)
- County Financial Management (Core)
- Understanding Maryland’s New Campaign Finance Landscape
- Integrated Stormwater & Wastewater Plans
More information about MACo’s 2013 Summer Conference:
The Anne Arundel County Council adopted a revised stormwater management fee at its meeting on Monday, May 20. Earlier this year, the Council’s original fee structure was vetoed by County Executive Laura Neuman, but passed by the Council’s vote to override the veto pending further action. The new fee structure reduces the maximum fee commercial property owners would pay and phases-in the fee for some property owners. As reported by the Baltimore Sun (limited free views available):
Owners of nonresidential properties still must pay based on the percentage of their lot that’s covered by impervious surfaces such as parking lots and rooftops. But they’ll be capped at the equivalent of 25 percent of their annual property tax, instead of 35 percent in the original version of the stormwater fee.
And for any fee that is greater than $500 per year, there will be a three-year phase-in period, under the bill passed Monday.
Residential property owners will still pay $34 per year for townhomes, $85 for most single-family homes and $170 for rural homes.
The Maryland Court of Appeals recently denied a motion for reconsideration of a decision that could cost counties millions of dollars by requiring the State to provide a credit against the local income tax for income that is earned out-of-state. Although the motion for reconsideration was denied, the Court of Appeals did Stay the effective date of the ruling pending an appeal to the United State Supreme Court.
As summarized in a previous post on Conduit Street, in this case, Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury v. Brian Wynne, et ux., Mr. Wynne challenged the Maryland statute, arguing that the statute violated the Commerce Clause because it burdened Maryland residents that conducted interstate business. As reported by the Baltimore Sun (limted free views available):
The case involves income earned by the Wynnes through an S corporation, which under federal tax law passes its income and losses directly to its shareholders. Under Maryland law, taxpayers receive a state income tax credit to offset out-of-state income earned through a S corporation and for which taxes have been paid in another state. However, the state does not offer a credit for the local “piggyback” part of the income tax, which ranges from 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent depending on the county.
The Court of Appeals ruled in the Wynne’s favor.
The Attorney General’s Office is now considering further action.
MACo’s initiative to decouple the real and personal property taxes became law when the Governor signed HB1190 into law on May 2, joined by the President of the Senate, Mike Miller, and the Speaker of the House, Michael E. Busch. MACo’s President, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt, County Administrator R. Wayne Strausburg, Public Information Officer Tamara Lee-Brooks, and Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Colburn joined MACo staff to witness the occasion.
HB 1190/ SB 573 authorizes a county to set its personal property tax rate at no more than 2.5 times the rate for real property. MACo selected this issue as one of its 2013 legislative initiatives because that decoupling the personal property tax rate from the real property tax rate would allow counties to incentivize business investment using a deliberate approach rather than one that is lock-step with the more general real property tax rate. The General Assembly passed both bills without amendments.
MACo’s pension initiative, adding a county representative to the State Pension Board of Trustees (HB390), and MACo’s planning initiative, changing the local comprehensive planning cycle to ten years (HB 409) were both signed into law by the Governor on May 16.
MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp addressed the Stormwater Association of Maryland (SWAM) on June 15 on Maryland’s proposed Accounting for Growth (AFG) Policy. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is overseeing a stakeholders workgroup to draft an offset policy for water pollution generated by new development and growth in the state. The offset requirements would be in addition to the nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment reduction goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, which largely targets currently existing development and pollution sources.
As part of his presentation, Mr. Knapp discussed the goal of the AFG Policy, the projected timeline for the AFG Workgroup (draft regulations by December), the key stakeholders on the workgroup, and the primary components of the draft AFG policy. Mr. Knapp also offered the following observations:
- The AFG Policy has the potential to have a greater impact on practitioners and stakeholders than previous land use and environmental initiatives, such as the 2012 septic system legislation or PlanMaryland.
- The AFG Workgroup has identified the overall components for an AFG Policy but much more work and consensus is needed on the details of the Policy.
- The draft Policy not only includes water pollution reduction goals but also land use goals, which can sometimes complicate or even run counter to the water pollution reduction goals.
- Having proposed regulations for an AFG Policy by December is ambitious but possible.
- MACo has been engaged throughout the process and will remain an active participant until the AFG Policy is finalized.
For further information, please contact Les Knapp at email@example.com or 410.269.0043
Southern Maryland plans to host its first Local Government Exchange in early June. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Western Maryland recently hosted a Local Government Exchange, which has been successful as an annual event. The details on the Southern Maryland Exchange:
Title: “Local Planning for a Rebounding Economy”
Date & Time: Friday, June 7, 2013, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Location: Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, 44219 Airport Road, California, MD 20619
- Healthy by Design: Innovative approaches to creating communities that promote healthier lifestyles for the citizens and the environment.
- Creating Prosperity through Diversification: A case study of the growth and success of the region’s wine industry.
- The Benefits of Public and Private Partnerships.
- Building Business Friendly Practices in Government.
Full meeting agenda and registration information will be sent in mid May. For questions or additional information, contact Nancy Nunn at (410) 827-8056, ext. 128, or firstname.lastname@example.org ; or Jeff Jackman at (301) 475-4200 ext. 1541, or Jeff.Jackman@stmarysmd.com
AICP CM credits have been requested.