Surprising Finish for Maintenance of Effort Debate: No Bill

As heavily detailed here on Conduit Street, MACo has been actively advocating for changes to the waiver system under the education “maintenance of effort” law. In the final days of the legislative session, the House and Senate versions of their bills were sent to a conference committee, to resolve differences and conclude with a final product. MACo, supporting one of our legislative initiatives for the session, was arguing in favor of provisions from the House approach (reflected in HB 304), and sought to have as many as possible of those elements added to the final product in either that bill or the Senate cross-filed version, SB 310.

However, in an unexpected turn late in the final night of the session, some “technical errors” caused the final conference report to get delayed, and ultimately the bill was not raised for final approval. Under Maryland law, at the close of the 90 day session (midnight Monday) all pending legislation is effectively defeated. Thus, MACo’s maintenance of effort initiative did not pass.

Legislators and staff who were involved in the final stages of the process expressed disappointment with the apparent technical problems that led to one version of a final conference committee report to be prepared and signed, but then shortly afterward replaced by another new version. The confusion over the correct final document cost precious time, as this was actually unfolding in the last hour of the session. By the time the proper report (incorporating some, but not all, of the House proposals and a revised timeline for the waiver decision-making process) was delivered to the Senate desk, time had nearly elapsed on the bill. While the final conference report was passed in the Senate, the report did not have time to get fully processed and passed by the House before midnight.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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