During the last day of the legislative session, a number of issues with broad county effect remain in play. Here’s an abbreviated list:
Maintenance of Effort – Three bills await final action, with the time winding down. MACo supported HB 44 and SB 53 as a legislative initiative, to expand and balance the process for considering county MOE waiver requests — both bills will soon be “stuck” before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Another bill, HB 869, has been voted out of the House, but still awaits any action in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. That bill would delay the “penalty” for any county missing MOE but denied its waiver – withholding funds in the subsequent year, rather than the immediate year. The chances of either bill moving appear to be dwindling, but MACo continues to advocate for action on either provision.
Semiannual Payment Schedule for Business Property – HB 463, which was amended by the Senate to apply to businesses with property taxes that do not exceed $100,000 is still awaiting concurrence by the House.
Ambulance Service Providers and Assignment of Benefits –HB 83/SB 154, which would require health insurers to reimburse an ambulance provider (must be owned, operated,or under the jurisdiction of a political subdivision or a volunteer fire company or rescue squad) directly for covered services is in differing forms in the House and Senate and must be resolved by midnight today.
Public Access to Electronic Records: HB 37 / SB 740 alters the State’s Public Information Act (PIA) to address the release of public documents in electronic format. The bill will require the State and local governments to provide records in a searchable and analyzable electronic format where possible. Governments have the authority to remove “metadata” before providing an electronic document. Status: The Senate has added a 2013 sunset to the bill. The House has sent SB 740 back to the Senate without a sunset. If the Senate does not agree to the removal of the sunset, the bill will go to conference committee and the difference must be resolved before Sine Die.
Open Meetings Act Complaints: HB 48, which was requested by the Open Meetings Compliance Board, sets a 1-year time limit for a person to bring an open meetings complaint before the Board. It also requires local governments to post their meeting notices online and also physically post them at a publicly accessible location. Finally, it repeals the requirement of a written notice. Status: The Senate altered the 1-year time limit to 5 years but the House has rejected the Senate change. If the Senate does not recede, the bill will go to a conference committee and the difference must be resolved before midnight.
Waste-To-Energy as Preferred Renewable Energy: HB 1121 / SB 690 would move waste-to-energy from a Tier 2 source to a Tier 1 source (a more favorable position) within the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. Status: The House has amended the bill to include other power sources, including refuse-derived fuel and certain hydroelectric power plants. The Senate must decide whether to accept or reject the House amendments.