The 2016 MACo Winter Conference concluded on December 9 with the well-attended panel, Session 2017: Path to Success. The panel presented an overview of each of MACo’s four 2017 Legislative Initiatives and made one “ask” of the attendees to help move each initiative forward. Each initiative discussion included the perspective of a MACo staffer and a local government official.
Re-invest in Local Roads, Bridges, and Infrastructure
Addressing the 90% cut to local highway user revenues, Washington County Commissioner and MACo Past President John Barr stressed that we “need a permanent fix now” to road and infrastructure funding, noting that as county roads degrade, it negatively affects drivers, first responders, and construction support industries. MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick provided additional background on MACo’s bill.
THE ASK: Tweet using #LIFT4MD on December 13 and like the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LIFT4MD. Request funding for local roads and infrastructure through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Strong and Smart State Funding for School Construction
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner provided an overview of the numerous education workgroups and commissions currently meeting and highlighted MACo’s key concerns: (1) maintain robust state funding levels; (2) streamline processes; (3) develop incentives for effective spending; (4) reduce regulatory cost drivers; and (5) expand local financing options. MACo Research Director Robin Clark Eilenberg made the ask:
The ASK: This February send a letter to the Senate and House Budget Committee Chairs describing the importance of school construction funding to your county.
Energy Facility Siting
Kent County Commissioner William Pickrum discussed the zoning preemption challenges facing counties over the siting of utility scale energy projects on farmland and open space. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp provided some additional background on MACo’s proposed legislation to create an “enhanced” zoning process that allows counties to zone for specific energy technologies that balances the need to protect farmland, historically/culturally important areas, and ecologically sensitive areas against the acknowledged needs of the energy industry.
The ASK: When MACo prompts, reach out to your Delegates to support MACo’s bill.
Balancing Release of Police Body Camera Video
Village of Chevy Chase Police Department Chief John Fitzgerald, speaking on behalf of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, called MACo’s approach to handling police body camera video under the Maryland Public Information Act “one of the most thoughtful in the nation.” MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu described how MACo’s bill provides for law enforcement accountability, victim privacy, and reduced local government staff time and costs.
The ASK: When MACo prompts, contact all Senators asking them to co-sponsor the Senate version of the bill.