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.
Despite the unusual circumstances, MACo’s advocacy still led to more positive outcomes for its members. Bills that we supported had a greater likelihood of passage, while bills we opposed had a larger tendency to fail. MACo also helped improve many pieces of legislation through articulating county positions in amendments and will continue to work with State partners in several areas of ongoing administrative improvement.
Some of the big wins for the 2020 session included securing critical state aid to fund vital programs and obtaining a new funding tool to help counties mitigate the effects of sea level rise. MACo also successfully supported improved safety procedures for the management and location of underground facilities. Unworkable criminal justice proposals were improved and passed with MACo amendments that relieved the strain on local resources. And overall, counties were saved from costly mandates and preemptive regulations.
Continuing challenges for county governments include the inability to move forward with legislation clarifying, prospectively, that preemption should not take place in the courts, but in the open and accessible lawmaking process, where all stakeholders may be heard on the merits of their arguments. Additionally, work remains to address the mounting costs reimbursements for services provided by emergency medical service transporters to better meet growing demands and needs for services.
MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its membership. Elected representatives from every county government across Maryland and Baltimore City comprise MACo’s Legislative Committee.
The “one county, one vote” system of deciding the Association’s legislative strategies ensures that all counties have an equal voice. All 24 jurisdictions participated regularly in the weekly meetings throughout the Session – where they also engaged with policy leaders and advocates who joined the meeting to address county leadership.
Our policy staff has compiled updates and results on all of the bills the Legislative Committee decided to take action on this year.
For the 2020 End of Session Wrap-Up for each subject MACo covers, click below:
Though not an official legislative issue of MACo, our staff also covered extensively the COVID-19 crisis and the actions taken by the State and local governments: