MACo 2018 Initiatives: Infrastructure, Schools, Sunshine, and 9-1-1

Each year MACo adopts a slate of top legislative initiatives, typically representing the wide swath of services counties deliver to Maryland residents. 2018 is no exception, as the MACo initiatives cover education, public safety, public works, and citizen access issues.

Below is the set of top issues for the year ahead, adopted by the Legislative Committee on September 27:

Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland (LIFT4MD)

Investing in infrastructure – a call addressed to every level of government – improves safety, economic development, and quality of life. Nonetheless, funding for local transportation assets, water delivery systems, public safety centers and more all lack predictable centralized funding commitments.

MACo calls on state leaders to take action in 2018 to:

– Approve meaningful new FY 2019 funding for local transportation infrastructure – building on last year’s gains
– Restore the historic 30% local share of transportation revenues – phasing back to the tried-and-true formula in place for decades
– Inventory the condition of local infrastructure across the state, using existing resources – assessing the needs and revenue sources targeted for each area
– Prioritize additional funding for local infrastructure, should the State receive extra infrastructure support from the Federal government

Strong and Smart State Funding for School Construction

The State’s commitment to school construction funding needs to remain strong and smart – to best serve the modern needs of our schoolchildren, educators, and communities. State funding needs to recognize modern cost factors as we achieve new environmental and energy standards, satisfy heightened needs for technology, ensure student safety, fulfill community resource needs, and mesh with evolving teaching methods.

County governments share responsibility for financing K-12 school construction with the State, whose funding depends on statutory formulas and regulations. MACo advocates efforts to promote the smartest and most effective funding for modern schools, and urges State policymakers to retain the State’s strong commitment to this top funding priority. In addition, MACo supports reasonable school construction improvements including alternative financing, public-private partnerships, and innovative models of school construction and design.

Align Public Access Laws with Modern Technologies

Maryland’s Public Information Act creates a balanced framework for guaranteeing public access to open information, while protecting sensitive and private material. The rapid ascension of new technologies has strained the implementation and effect of these laws – potentially chilling their otherwise beneficial use. Maryland should clarify and reframe its Public Information Act to better accommodate citizen electronic engagement, personal surveillance footage from first responders and other county officials, and the release of sensitive personal information.

Advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 Systems

Maryland citizens demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers. MACo urges a concerted statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing the expertise and needs of front-line county managers.

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At MACo’s Winter Conference, December 6-8, we will again hold a closing session on “Paths to Success in 2018” detailing means for county officials to get engaged in the fight for each of these top issues. Register today for the conference!