The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of finance and procurement policy in the 2020 General Assembly.
This year, for the first time in 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.
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.
Public Work Contracts
MACo opposed legislation that mandated a series of timing and procedural requirements onto both state and local procurement units that aimed to shorten the time allowed for counties to issue payments to vendors. The shortened time frames are a poor fit for local government practices, many of which operate with limited staff and need current time to ensure all policies and procedures are met before an invoice is submitted for payment. State and Local Procurement – Payment Practices did not move out committee following the Senate and House public hearings.
MACo opposed legislation that would have required all county procurement contracts using state funds in any form to be subject to onerous state procurement regulations. Counties have their own procurement laws that are based on the structure and size of each government. Subjecting county procurement functions to state regulations would have forced counties to re-write their procurement laws or operate under two separate policies – which would be burdensome and confusing for procurement entities. Procurement – Transparency and Application to County Contracts did not advance out committee following its public hearing in the House.
Income Disparity Grants
MACo supported legislation to extend enhanced disparity grant funding for counties with proven local income tax effort. Disparity grant funding provides much-needed revenues to counties with limited revenue generation potential to help fund necessary services such as public safety, schools, infrastructure, and community services.
Under current law, the amount of funding received by county governments equals the lesser of the dollar amount necessary to raise the county’s per capita income tax revenues to 75% of the statewide average or the amount received under the cap provision. The current minimum grant amount is 67.5%.
HB 737 repeals the sunset, instead of extending the funding until 2023, as was originally proposed. The bill was also amended to raise the cap from 67.5% to 75%. The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.
Small Business Development
MACo supported legislation to boost the capacity of the Maryland Small Business Center (SBDC) to promote, inform, and support new and existing small businesses across the state. Local governments, just like the State, have a vested interest in economic development. Counties appreciate the links between private enterprise, government, higher education, and local economic development organizations to provide high-quality training, confidential consulting, and market and industry research to Maryland’s small businesses that the SBDC provides. The legislation passed the House and Senate with an amendment that repeals sunset provisions in current law, meaning SBDC has guaranteed minimum funding for the foreseeable future. Small Business Development Center Network Fund – Minimum Appropriation was sent to the Governor for his signature.
MACo supported legislation that would have created a grant program to help counties, nonprofits, and other eligible applicants establish or expand makerspaces. A makerspace provides the space and means for community members to design, prototype, and manufacture items using tools that would otherwise be inaccessible or unaffordable, such as 3-D printers, digital fabrication machines, and computer-aided design software. Counties believe the establishment of a Makerspace Initiative Pilot Program to provide matching funds to local governments, nonprofits, and other eligible applicants to set up makerspaces would spark local economic development and promote diverse and vibrant business communities. Economic Development – Makerspace Initiative Pilot Program passed through the House committee with minor amendments and a favorable report, but did not advance out of the Senate following its public hearing.