Shortcut image2015 Legislative Issues: MACo Initiatives | Bill Tracking |
MACo Testimony | Issue Papers | Committee Schedule

Hot Topics: Highway User Revenue | Pretrial | County Budgets | Education | Land Use | Transportation

Important Documents/Links: MD General AssemblyMACo Testimony Summary | Budgets & Tax Rates | Salary Survey | Local Finances | Spending Affordability

FY2016 Budget: County Effects | Fiscal Briefing | Budget HighlightsBudget Books Online | Budget Bill | BRFA Bill | Hearings | MACo Coverage | Capital Budget

MACo Urges Correctional System Efficiencies for Juveniles

On February 27, Natasha Mehu, MACo Policy Analyst, testified in support of HB 618 Juveniles – Transfer Determinations – Confinement in Juvenile Facilities to the House Judiciary Committee. This bill would ensure that eligible juvenile detainees are held with their peers in juvenile detention centers and are not inappropriately housed in county adult detention centers that are not equipped to house juvenile detainees.

The written testimony explains:

Under current law, certain juveniles charged as adults are held in adult jail pre-trial. However, if it is in the interest of the child or society, the circuit court may transfer the juvenile to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. This is known as a reverse waiver. HB 618 requires, with certain exceptions, that while a reverse waiver is pending, a juvenile be held in a juvenile facility rather than the adult jail.

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

Sketch Video Shows Why Federal Policies Matter to Counties

In a new sketch video, the National Association of Counties (NACo) shares the central role of county governments in America, and the influence of federal policy on county governments. The video was premiered this week at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.

As described by NACo,

America’s 3,069 county governments provide fundamental services for building healthy, safe and vibrant communities. Through the National Association of Counties, county governments engage federal policy makers on a range of issues like transportation, infrastructure, healthcare, public safety and public lands management. All of these issues are vital to our nation’s quality of life and long-term prosperity.

For more information, see NACo.

Shore Delegation Hears MACo Initiative Updates

On February 27, the Eastern Shore Delegation heard from MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson, with an update on MACo’s top priorities for the 2015 session.

In talking about MACo’s top priority – restoring local roadway funding – Mr. Sanderson said, “it’s very important that this is coming from everywhere. Several bills are in, and they are from both urban and rural legislators, both Democrats and Republicans.”

He commented on the state’s strict maintenance of effort law, citing its inflexibility creating a “disincentive to spend more than you have to in the schools.” MACo is seeking legislation to alter several components of that law.

Mr. Sanderson also expressed optimism about meaningful drug-related legislation passing this year, saying “this issue is clearly getting taken seriously, and we’re hopeful we’ll see some good bills get out this year.”

He relayed the lingering concerns with pretrial processes, and the reliance on contract attorneys to provide representation before District Court Commissioners. “We really dislike the current year’s provision,” he said, “where the state can bill the county for cost overruns. We don’t even control it.”

For more on MACo’s slate of legislative initiatives, read previous Conduit Street coverage.

Carroll Commissioners Adopt Master Plan

Carroll County Commissioners have unanimously adopted a master plan that will “outline future economic, residential and agricultural development”. This plan has been in the works since 2009.

According to the Carroll County Times,

“This plan addresses the short-term needs of the county while looking to the future without jeopardizing either of those two,” said Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5. “It shows you can have a plan that recognizes the need for economic development and the financial base that’s needed without jeopardizing the rural nature of the community, and I truly believe you can have a document that allows for good, solid long-term planning without jeopardizing the core values of our county and our nation.”

New Fiscal 2016 Budget Documents Posted to the MACo Website

There are many budget documents available for review, but county government related information is often buried in multi-page reports. MACo has identified the key sections of budget analyses and reports that affect county government.  These will be posted on our website under “Research” then “Budget and Finance” and on Conduit Street each week.

New budget analyses available include the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Capital Fiscal Briefing, Behavioral Health Administration, and Actuarial Funding of Retirement Programs.  Others will be added as they become available. Links are also provided to key sections of Spending Affordability Committee briefing documents and recommendations, operating and capital budget bills and overviews, the fiscal briefing document, and multiple agency analyses of significance.

Infrastructure and Education Are Focus of Vice President Biden’s Address to Counties

Vice President Biden addressed county leaders gathered in Washington DC for the annual Legislative Conference of the National Association of Counties this week. The Vice President began by recalling his own time as a local government official and noted that local government is the most important, least appreciated form of government.

The Vice President remarks focused on two main goals: investment in infrastructure and education.  The Vice President spoke on the importance of partnerships between businesses and community colleges, and the tie between a our citizens’ education levels and our country’s ability to compete globally. On transportation infrastructure, he said that currently only 20% of surface transportation funding goes towards transit and noted the challenges of accommodating our growing population’s transportation needs. He shared plans to increase transit funding to 30% and eliminate tax loopholes to help fund transportation infrastructure.

Listen to a full audio of the Vice President’s remarks below, starting around the 47 minute mark.

Baker, Brookings Panel Focus on “Governing From the Ground Up”

The Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute hosted county executives from Prince George’s County, Maryland, Monroe County, New York, Shelby County, Tennessee and Salt Lake County, Utah on February 24, 2015 to share their experiences in confronting the complex challenges that arise in their jurisdictions. You may view the YouTube video below.

Far from an ideological debate, these practitioners provided their front-line perspectives on which areas of policy function well—and which areas are truly broken.

The Hon. Rushern L. Baker, county executive of Prince George’s County, MD; Hon. Maggie Brooks, county executive, Monroe County, NY; Hon. Mark Luttrell, mayor, Shelby County, TN; and Hon. Ben McAdams, Mayor, Salt Lake County, UT joined for a moderated panel discussion to examine the roles and responsibilities of a county executive, how county executives balance priorities within their jurisdictions, how states affect their behavior, how the federal government’s scale back has affected them, and the ways in which they have innovated in order to more effectively deliver on their governing mandate.

Bruce Katz, vice president and co-director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, moderated the discussion with the county executives. The discussion covered a broad range of issues, including the challenges county executives face, the innovative steps taken to better serve their populations, and where county governance fits in the larger body of American federalism.

Anne Arundel To Consider Stormwater Fee Phase-Out

Both County Executive Steve Schuh and Council President Jerry Walker have pledged to pursue legislation before the Anne Arundel County Council to eliminate the county’s stormwater fee.

From coverage in the Capital, quoting a statement from Schuh:

The proposed legislation will responsibly phase out the stormwater fee through a 33% reduction in fiscal year 2017, 33% reduction in fiscal year 2018, and complete repeal in fiscal year 2019. By 2020, the county will fully fund the current stormwater programs through others means, including the general fund.

The storm water management fee was established in 2013. Currently, Anne Arundel residents pay $34 per year for each town home, $85 for a single family residence. Non-residential stormwater fee charges are based on a property owner’s actual measured impervious surface area for individual parcels of land.

Read the full article online.

Maryland Board of Public Works – 3/4 Agenda

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  March 4th’s meeting will be held at 80 Calvert Street, Assembly Room, Annapolis, MD 21401.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.

MACo Amendments Ease Safety Plan Burden on Small Contractors and Procurement Officials

MACo Legislative Director Andrea Mansfield testified before the Senate Finance Committee today in support of SB 279 with amendments. A crossfile of HB 404 heard earlier this week, this bill would require a prospective bidder or offeror for a public works project over $100,000 to submit a public safety plan and an attestation that the plan meets certain requirements as part of the procurement process.

SB 279 is nominally the product of a workgroup that examined issues related to occupational safety and health plan prequalification and developed recommendations on these requirements during the interim. In speaking about the suggested amendments, Ms. Mansfield expressed concern that the bill’s requirements varied from the workgroup’s recommendations and that certain requirements could negatively affect small contractors and procurement officials. She further commented, “Larger companies may have staff to develop and monitor the rigorous safety plans envisioned under the bill, but smaller companies may not be able to afford staff or to contract out for this purpose, even if they engage in safe practices. The administrative burden of this requirement could make it extremely difficult for a smaller contractor to comply, disqualifying the contractor from bidding altogether.” MACo’s suggested amendment would increase the threshold to $1 million to better target higher risk projects and lessen the effect on smaller contractors.

Other suggested amendments would require the attestation of a safety plan be submitted to a procurement official at contract award, not as a part of the selection process; clarify that the completion of the safety questionnaire and additional safety measures do not impede work on a project; and protect local jurisdictions from any deficiencies in safety plans or safety-related issues that may occur at a worksite.

Ms. Mansfield urges the committee to accept these amendments to lessen the effects of this legislation on contractors and procurement officials.

Read MACo’s written testimonyonline, or visit MACo’s Legislative Database to see all county impact bills and MACo positions.