MACo Research Director, Robin Clark Eilenberg testified in opposition of SB 920, Human Services – Homelessness – Emergency Cold Weather Planning, to the Senate Finance Committee on February 17, 2016.
The bill would mandate emergency cold weather councils in each county and require the councils to submit their plans to the Maryland Department of Human Resources. While well-intentioned, this legislation is redundant and potentially counterproductive to achieving its aim.
Protecting and preserving the well-being of our most vulnerable residents is a priority for all jurisdictions. Local emergency management agencies and their partners across county government already conduct activities that cover the areas described in this legislation.
From the MACo testimony,
Local populations of homeless individuals are only one of the vulnerable populations considered in cold weather planning. Likewise, temperature variables are only one trigger for plans that also address winter storms, extreme heat, and other situations endangering life safety, and may be activated depending on local and regional weather patterns and aggravating emergency circumstances, such as power outages. Counties should retain the authority to develop their own optimal plans.
An identical cross-filed bill, HB 1482, was heard on March 8 in the House.
For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.