2014 Legislative Issues
On November 18, Harford County Executive-elect Barry Glassman announced the last cabinet level appointments. He also announced that he is planning to eliminate the Office of Chief of Staff and bring back the Department of Government & Community Relations which will advocate on behalf of the county executive at the local, state and national level.
From The Baltimore Sun,
The latest group of appointments include Edward Hopkins, director of emergency services; James Malone, director of parks and recreation; Timothy Whittie, director of public works; Bradley Killian, director of planning and zoning; Karen Rottmann, director of procurement; Leonard Parrish, director of housing; and Melissa Lambert, county attorney.
Whittie is the only member in the current group being held over from the outgoing administration of County Executive David Craig. Lambert was serving as the county council’s attorney and Hopkins was the chief deputy in the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
“I think, when you look at it overall, about one-third of the folks are promotions from current departments,” Glassman said, adding he kept about one-third of existing directors and another one-third are new.
To read more information about each of the new appointments, visit The Baltimore Sun online.
The Maryland Department of Environment has announced its intention to deny key permits to Exelon, the corporate owner of the Conowingo Dam at the northern head of the Chesapeake Bay. A January 7 hearing has been scheduled prior to a final decision.
From coverage in the Daily Record (limited free access):
Saying there’s not enough information on the dam’s impact on the Chesapeake Bay, the state Department of the Environment has declared its intent to deny Exelon certification that the hydroelectric facility on the lower Susquehanna River meets state and federal water quality standards.
The department issued a statement saying it has not made a final determination, and is seeking public comment, either in writing or at a Jan. 7 hearing.
The immediate effect of this potential denial is unclear, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is also reviewing the potential re-licensing of the Dam facility for another 40 year period. From the Baltimore Sun coverage:
The state agency’s move has no imminent effect, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given Exelon a one-year extension of its current license to operate Conowingo, which produces 500 megawatts of electricity. The company had applied last January for state water-quality approval while it still was hoping to gain a long-term renewal of its license. Under federal law, Maryland must act on the application within a year or lose its say in relicensing the facility. That deadline falls on Jan. 31, 2015.
In seeking to renew its license, Exelon has been negotiating with federal and state officials over their concerns about the dam’s impact on water quality and on migration of shad and eels up the river. Details of those talks are not public.
But the company has agreed to pay up to $3.5 million for enhanced water-quality monitoring over the next two years.
Exelon can reapply for state approval, said MDE spokesman Jay Apperson. Officials anticipate that will happen once the additional study is finished, he said.
“We expect to continue this dialogue as we work together to assure the state standards on water quality are met,” said Exelon Generation spokesman Robert Judge.
If after further study, state regulators decide the dam is undermining water quality, Exelon could be required to mitigate the impacts, either by changing how it operates the facility or by making offsetting pollution reductions elsewhere in the river’s drainage area, according to Apperson.
For more of MACo’s coverage of this issue, see previous Conduit Street articles on the Conowingo Dam.
Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) released an economic development strategy plan which sets goals of increasing incentives and support for small and mid-sized businesses, and attracting new companies to the city. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:
“Keeping businesses here in Baltimore and helping them grow will continue to be our top priority,” Cole said. “The mayor has come up with a micro-loan program that’s working. It’s reasonable and high impact without being grossly expensive.”
The city has given out $300,000 in small-business loans of up to $30,000 to 14 companies since 2012, including $20,000 for Mindgrub Technologies, which added 20 employees, and $20,000 for The Charmery ice cream shop, which added 10 new jobs. The BDC’s new plan calls for $500,000 more in small-business loans to be awarded each year.
“Small business is the backbone of the economy,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “We’re going to continue to look for ways to support it.”
Much of the plan is a continuation of current city policy, including goals of increasing the number of grocery stores, expanding the city’s convention center, building a better fiber network and bolstering Baltimore’s port through an intermodal facility. The increased incentives for small and medium-size businesses are among the few recommendations with a specific dollar figure attached. Cole said he had not yet identified from where the increased funding for small-business incentives would come.
The article notes new goals include increasing incentives for small and mid-sized businesses by $4 million annually and attracting 13 international companies to the city.
For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.
Dorchester County Mourns the Passing of County Manager Jane Baynard & Former Commissioner Phil AdamsNovember 20, 2014
Recently retired Dorchester County Manager M. Jane Baynard was laid to rest on Thursday, November 20, 2014. Baynard died at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Tuesday, November 11, 2014. She was 55. Baynard was remembered at the first county commissioners meeting on November 18 following her death.
Dorchester County council members also mourned the passing of former County Commissioner Phil Adams.
Coverage from MyEasternShoreMD.com’s article:
(County Commissioner Jay) Newcomb had volunteered his time to handle administrative matters after Baynard was hospitalized in November 2012, after going in for a routine procedure. He was officially named acting county manager after it was determined that the charter required one during Baynard’s absence.
After Baynard resigned from the post this past September, Newcomb continued to volunteer as acting county manager.
Previously Newcomb explained that he took on the added responsibilities to allow Baynard to continue in the position of county manager.
“Jane loved this job,” Newcomb said Tuesday. After she was hospitalized, “She fought and she fought. She had always hoped to come back. There were three things that she loved, her family, her dogs and this job.”
Referring to the empty chair which has been at the council table since 2012, Bradshaw said it will be difficult to find someone to serve as county manager. “She was a tough act to follow.”
Councilman Rick Price said many people missed talking with Baynard. “She was very helpful to me in learning the ropes and kept everyone appraised of information in a timely manner,” he said.
“She educated quite a few of us on the board,” Councilman Ricky Travers said. “She knew how to turn people around in the right direction.”
Following shifts in the recent election, the House of Delegates leadership will undergo substantial changes — with Delegate Maggie McIntosh moving to serve as chair of the Appropriations Committee, and current Majority Leader Kumar Barve assuming the seat as chair of the newly-renamed Environment and Transportation Committee.
From coverage in the Washington Post:
Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) was tapped to become chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, succeeding Del. Norman H. Conway (D-Wicomico), who was defeated for reelection in his district this month.
McIntosh had served as chairwoman of the Environmental Matters Committee for the past 12 years. She will be replaced in that role when the House convenes in January by Del. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery), currently the House majority leader and a 24-year veteran of the chamber.
When Barve takes over McIntosh’s committee, its jurisdiction will be expanded to include both environmental and transportation issues, Busch said.
The Speaker also made several additional leadership announcements, as part of preparations for the 2015 legislative session. The full text of Speaker Michael Busch’s November 19 press release on new leadership positions follows:
The Rural Economies Workgroup of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission held it first meeting on November 18. Greg Bowen, a Commission member representing Southern Maryland and former Calvert County Planning Director, is the chair of the Workgroup. State representatives participating in the meeting included the Maryland Departments of Planning (MDP), Agriculture, Natural Resources, Business and Economic Development, and Health and Mental Hygiene. Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp represented MACo. Other represented stakeholder groups included the Maryland Rural Council, 1000 Friends of Maryland, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and Western Maryland. MDP will be staffing the Workgroup.
The Workgroup discussed a draft goal, set of objectives, and possible strategies for achieving those objectives. An initial set of four objectives included: (1) land preservation; (2) sustainable food supply system; (3) sustainable forestry; and (4) sustainable rural recreation. However, it is likely that these objectives and related strategies will be modified and several additional objectives added as the Workgroup finalizes its work plan. Knapp suggested that the Workgroup consider examining areas where Maryland’s current Smart Growth policy does not mesh well with rural development issues and consider potential “tweaks” to policy that better address rural needs. Other potential objectives included preservation of natural open spaces and public education.
The Workgroup hopes to finalize its work plan by December. Recommendations from the Workgroup will be targeted at both the State and local governments and will likely include proposed regulatory and statutory changes. For further information please contact Les Knapp at email@example.com or 410.269.0043.
The future Frederick County council members and County Executive-elect Jan Gardner met on November 18 to discuss communication and review ethics laws, open meetings rules and the public information act.
County attorneys also presented drafted rules for the council and gave an overview of how charter government functions.
The Frederick News-Post reported
During the afternoon orientation at Winchester Hall, County Executive-elect Jan Gardner told the incoming council that she doesn’t plan to attend all of their meetings. However, she invited them to ask questions and develop a working relationship with her.
“My door is always open,” said Gardner, a Democrat who will be the first Frederick County executive.
The charter passed by voters in 2012 states that council members can’t direct employees, who are supervised by the executive. However, Gardner said the council members should feel free to interact with staff and even ask them to do research.
During the meeting, Gardner also showed incoming council members a drafted invitation and agenda for their swearing-in ceremony Dec. 1.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick. The future council members said they would like to hold their first meeting the day of the ceremony.
Gardner said the county is looking to go paperless, so the council members will each receive laptops instead of desktop computers. County agendas and supporting documents will be sent to the council members electronically, she said.
To read the full article, visit The Frederick News-Post online.