Howard Considers Legislation to Require Public Fiscal Analysis for Council Bills

Howard County Councilmember Opel Jones this week introduced legislation to require a public fiscal analysis for all council bills. Under current law, fiscal analyses are prepared by the Office of the County Auditor but are not required to be made available to the public.

“Adding a public fiscal analysis to the legislative process gives residents an opportunity to review the fiscal impacts of a county bill prior to giving testimony at the legislative public hearing,” said Councilmember Jones. “Public fiscal analyses assist residents to easily track and evaluate proposed county bills that affect their daily lives.”

Council Bill 8-2020, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Christiana Rigby and David Yungmann, requires each bill to be accompanied by a fiscal summary and analysis no later than two business days before a public hearing. Subsequently, the County Council will publicize fiscal analyses at least one day before a legislative public hearing.

Similar fiscal analyses are prepared by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services (DLS) for each bill introduced in the General Assembly. These notes give an assessment of the fiscal effect of the proposed legislation on the state’s budget, small businesses, and counties, and they also describe – in layman’s terms – what the legislation will do.

According to a press release:

This bill ushers an additional level of fiscal clarity of the costs and benefits of county bills. “Over the last year, this Council has considered several pieces of legislation that have significant effects on County revenue and operations,” said Councilwoman Rigby. “As elected officials, we should always strive toward greater transparency and accountability as we legislate. This bill provides the public with important information on the fiscal effects of County legislation, and I hope that it will strengthen community engagement in the legislative process.”

“The public should see the fiscal impact of legislation and understand that we need to balance policy and fiscal considerations,” said Councilmember Yungmann.

Council Bill 8-2020 will be heard by the Howard County Council on February 18, 2020.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: High Marks for Fiscal Notes by Maryland’s Legislative Services Dept

Howard County Council Press Release: Councilmember Opel Jones Files Legislation to Require a Public Fiscal Analysis Statement for Council Bills