Balcony Inspection Bill – Senate Amendments Drag Counties Back In

Senate Bill 18 was introduced to create an inspection requirement for property owners. Similar legislation last year, with oversight mandates on local governments, triggered deep concerns from MACo and local governments. SB 18, introduced this year with alternative language that addressed county concerns, moved MACo to take an official “no position.”

However – as the bill has moved onto the Senate floor, amendments have been added to the bill that would reinstate an oversight role for counties. The amendment, adopted by the Senate after being added by its Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, would reinstate local governments as the direct actors in overseeing the inspection cycle, and notifying property owners of their obligations.

Read the full amendment online.

From last year’s testimony on SB 196, counties raised concerns with unfunded mandates:

SB 196 attempts to address an important safety concern but the implementation of the bill’s provisions would be very difficult for some counties, both in regards to identifying affected properties and covering the costs to perform the inspections. Unless the enforcement provisions are changed, MACo recommends the Committee issue an UNFAVORABLE report.

Read MACo’s testimony on similar legislation from the 2012 session.

As of this writing, debate on the bill has been postponed on the Senate floor through a procedural “special order” motion. A final Senate floor vote is expected in the coming days.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties