The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of transportation policy in the 2020 General Assembly.
MACo generally advocates for appropriate state assistance with roadways and bridges across our communities. Transportation is a shared function in Maryland, with state-maintained roadways (mainly numbered roads) and locally-maintained roadways interlocking throughout most areas.
This year, for the first time since the Civil War, the General Assembly closed session early on March 18, due to precautionary social distancing measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Consequently, many bills did not have hearings or did not move forward due to time constraints to meet the new deadline. For more information on Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic visit MACo’s COVID-19 Resource Page.
School Sidewalks and Crosswalks
MACO opposed legislation that would have placed a costly mandate on county governments to carry out new state policy to create sidewalks and crosswalks as alternative routes for public school students. MACo did not raise policy objections with the goal of the bill, but did express counties’ practical concerns over the substantial costs to implement the unfunded mandate given the need to budget for the Kirwan Blueprint funding matches. The legislation, Counties – Construction of Sidewalks and Crosswalks – Safe Alternative Routes to Public Schools, received an unfavorable report following its hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee.
Highway User Revenues
MACo supported with amendments legislation that would have provided long-term stability for county transportation services by restoring county funding from the Highway User Revenues. Following the “great recession” in 2009, the Board of Public Works cut distributions of Highway User Revenues to counties by 90% and by roughly 40% for Baltimore City. Highway User Revenues – Revenue and Distribution proposed a 2026 commencement for a gradual phase-in of funding to return to the dollar distributions provided in FY 2008, which would allow local governments to plan for and provide vital transportation safety and maintenance services. The legislation passed through the Senate with amendments and was referred to the House Environment and Transportation Committee, but never received a second reading in the House due to time constraints.