An overview of MACo’s advocacy on information technology issues in the 2020 General Assembly.
Information technology is a growing area of importance for MACo as county governments rely on computer systems of increasing sophistication for a widening scope of operations — including public safety applications, open government portals, billing functions, and emergency alerts systems used during major natural and man-made emergencies. As county use of information technology evolves, cybersecurity and protection of resident data rise in importance.
This year, for the first time since the Civil War, the General Assembly adjourned 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 below for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.
Rural Broadband Access
MACo strongly supported legislation that will promote long-overdue broadband internet access for rural communities on the Eastern Shore by allowing Choptank Electric Cooperative to become member-regulated and to make decisions concerning services such as broadband without additional regulation by the Maryland Public Service Commission. This legislation will allow Choptank to control the use of assets and deliver broadband, and eliminate duplicative regulations and costs that have been hurdles to broadband services on the Eastern Shore. The Member Regulated Cooperative must still comply with all statutory requirements that apply to electric companies, including rate regulations and reporting requirements. Member-Regulated Cooperatives – Establishment (Rural Broadband for the Eastern Shore Act of 2020) passed both chambers on the last day of session and was sent to the Governor for his signature.
Maryland Cyber Reserve
MACo members voted to support legislation that would establish the Maryland Cyber Reserve within the Military Department with a mission to provide educational and technical support to prevent and resolve cyber attacks against State, county, and local government agencies and associated critical infrastructure. Public Safety – Maryland Cyber Reserve – Established did not have a public hearing before the close of session.
Cybersecurity Response Team
MACo supported with amendments legislation that require the Department of Information Technology to consult with the Maryland Cybersecurity Council to establish a Cybersecurity Response Team that will in turn work with counties to ensure emergency response strategies are in place to protect vital technology infrastructure against cyber attacks. Counties supported the creation of a cybersecurity team to protect the Next Gen 9-1-1 efforts, but expressed concern that funds from the 9-1-1 Trust Fund, already fully committed to support local government response centers, would be diverted to fund the proposed Team. Ultimately, Department of Information Technology – Cybersecurity Response Team did not advance in the House Health and Government Operations Committee following its public hearing.