MDP Launches Online Training Program for Local Planning Commissions and Boards of Appeals

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has announced its new online training program for local planning commissioners and boards of appeals members.  Under legislation passed last year, commissioners and board members are required to receive training concerning land use and Smart Growth.  This education requirement can be satisfied by taking a free online course jointly prepared by MDP, the Maryland Association of Counties, the Maryland Municipal League, and other stakeholders.  Participants must go through a simple registration process…

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EPA Releases Local Consequences for Failure to Meet TMDL Goals

On December 29, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a letter containing potential consequences for State and local governments that fail to meet their total maximum daily load (TMDL) goals in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.  The letter discusses eight potential consequences, including:  (1) expanding National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to cover previously unregulated sources; (2) object to NPDES permits and increase program oversight; (3) require net improvement offsets; (4) establish finer scale wasteload and load allocations in…

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Stretching/Yoga Offered at Conference

For conference attendees who like to exercise early, MACo and the Maryland Health Care Coalition is offering a Stretching/Yoga session next Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel during our Winter Conference.  Juices and bottled waters provided for this 6:30 a.m. session. Email Ellen Clarke if you plan to participate, so we can reserve a large enough room.

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Snow removal costs already hitting hard

The Washington Post reports that Prince George's County has already exceeded its annual allotment for snow removal costs, resulting from the heavy blanketing the region received this last week. We're still waiting on final numbers, but Prince George's officials said Tuesday that the recent massive snow storm used up all the money the county had budgeted for snow removal this winter, and then some. That means if the area gets hit again, it will have…

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Environmentalists to Unveil New Chesapeake Bay Restoration Proposal on December 30

Chesapeake Bay advocates plan to unveil a new Bay restoration proposal on December 30 in Annapolis, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. Former Maryland state Sen. Gerald Winegrad said the proposal will be given to Obama administration officials developing a bay restoration strategy in response to a presidential order issued earlier this year. Winegrad said officials involved in the 1983 birth of the current federal-state restoration effort, including former governors, congressmen and environmental officials, are…

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Debate continues over new voting system

The Gazette ran a story on December 25 further summarizing the challenges posed by the implementation of a new voting system for the 2010 election. As described in an earlier post, the State Board of Elections voted 4 to 1 to certify the selection of a vendor, Election Systems & Software, for the new system. However, many concerns were raised during the meeting over the cost and timeframe. The Board will be sending a letter…

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Property assessments facing “unparalleled” drop

The annual cycle of property reassessments will yield disappointing news for county revenues -- as nearly every jurisdiction will see a drop in assessments for residential property in this assessment cycle. From the Baltimore Sun coverage: Nearly all Maryland homeowners due to receive new property assessment notices being mailed today will see a lower assessed value on their houses, reflecting what officials say is the largest decline in the state assessment office's history. n On…

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Rural Counties Forum added to conference schedule

For representatives of Maryand's rural counties attending the MACo winter conference, an additional discussion for Thursday afternoon may prove to be of interest. From the conference program: Maryland is often described as "America in Miniature," and much of that culture and heritage is attributable to the more rural parts of the State. From Mountain Maryland to the Eastern Shore, rural counties have a wide range of geographic and demographic diversity -- but also have many…

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B&T Chairman Currie joins conference panel for “General Assembly Preview”

Senate President Mike Miller has advised that Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ulysses Currie will replace him on our "General Assembly Forecast" session on the final morning of the Winter Conference. He will be joined by Speaker of the House Mike Busch, Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman and the Governor's Chief Legislative and Policy Advisor Joe Bryce. Senator Currie has been a frequent participant in MACo events in recent years, and will bring the…

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Health care reform – harder on more generous states, like Maryland?

Today's New York Times discusses the potential effects of pending federal health care reform on state Medicaid programs. Specifically in focus are the numerous states -- including Maryland-- who have exceeded federal standards for eligibility and coverage. The essential issue the the potential cost to states for newly broadened Medicaid coverage under the federal reform plan, and whether the federal legislation would offer additional assistance to states for that expansion. The bill passed by the…

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