Amended, Amending, Amended: Schools Act Moves Along

Major legislation in the General Assembly advances in the House of Delegates, with amendments made by the Appropriations Committee and on the House floor. The legislation and its amendments include many changes to various aspects of the school construction program, and some substantial shifts in authority. 

A 31-page bill on school construction becomes 50 pages with amendments added by the Maryland House of Delegates. More changes are likely to come as it advances.

The 21st Century School Facilities Act is on second reader in the House of Delegates, leaving one more step before it crosses over into the Senate. The Senate has yet to weigh in on the changes made, but three members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee participated in a work group on the bill a week ago.

Areas of Interest to MACo 

These elements are all maintained in the bill amended and passed by the House of Delegates.

  • Increasing the annual State school construction funding goal to $400 million
  • Streamlining State school construction reviews, while maintaining the State and a resource for smaller jurisdictions
  • Changing alternative financing laws to reduce hurdles to public private partnerships in school construction
  • Examining of the effect of prevailing wage laws on school construction
  • Allowing alternatives to LEED certification for school building practices
  • Deferring to local governments on schools built as emergency shelters

Major Changes to the Legislation 

These elements were added by the House Appropriations Committee and the House of Delegates. The Senate may adopt these changes, or reject them, and may also make their own changes before the end of the legislative session.

  • Including local consultation in the creation of educational sufficiency standards.
  • Making the Interagency Committee into an independent Commission with school construction authorities similar to those currently held by the Board of Public Works.
  • Designating the membership of the Interagency Commission to include representatives of the Governor and the General Assembly.
  • Adding an annual school safety grant program of $10 million.

Read a reprint of HB 1783 with the House Appropriations Committee’s amendments.

Read the amendment added on the floor of the House yesterday relating to the Interagency Commission membership.

Stay tuned for updates on the Senate’s review of the 21st Century School Facilities Act’s amendments. It’s looking like this debate could continue until the final hours of the General Assembly’s 2018 Session.