At its Fall Conference last week, the Maryland Municipal League (MML) formally adopted its top priorities for the coming legislative session. Their three focus areas are to continue their efforts to restore highway user revenues, to streamline the processes for land use changes, and to reform requirements that municipal officials submit financial disclosures comparable to those by state officials.
From the MML bulletin, describing the topics recommended to the full membership by its Legislative Committee:
For the sixth straight year, the Committee recommended that the membership adopt restoration of Highway User Revenues (HURs) as a priority. Over that time period, cities and towns saw deductions in HUR receipts of up to 95%. MML efforts to address this issue have in each of the past two years resulted in one-time restoration of over half of the lost transportation revenues.The Committee also recommended adoption of a priority to address a question of whether an elected municipal governing body or a planning commission has final authority to dictate the shape of a municipal comprehensive master plan. The proposal also seeks to expand the time period during which an elected body may consider planning commission comprehensive plan recommendations before it must act on them.Lastly, the Committee recommended adoption of a priority to modify state-imposed financial disclosure requirements for municipal officials to focus on issues more relevant to local municipal government interests.
MACo and county governments have been actively supporting HUR restoration, naming this as a top legislative initiative for the 2014 session. MACo’s process for adopting its own initiatives remain underway, but HUR restoration figures heavily into that planning. Counties have also joined municipal governments with raising concerns on the other issues adopted as MML priorities.
Notably absent from the list of League priorities is a proposal to alter laws regarding property tax setoffs, which has been raised by municipal members in varying places in recent years, but failed to gain support of the League as an organizational priority. MACo and MML representatives have been engaged in talks over process and practices in this area, partially arising from this continued interest.