The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the policy areas of emergency services and intergovernmental relations in the 2021 General Assembly.
County governments lead the delivery of public safety services in Maryland – responsible for county fire, police, and emergency services. MACo’s advocacy in the area of emergency services includes urging for much-needed state support for local public services such as 9-1-1 call centers, front-line county services, and natural disaster response. Additionally, MACo advocates for all first responders to have the flexibility, support, and technology necessary to provide for public safety.
This year the Maryland General Assembly conducted a legislative session unlike any other due to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic. The unique circumstances surrounding the 442nd legislative session, including necessary health and safety measures, posed a challenge for lawmakers and advocates alike. However, MACo was still able to effectively advocate on behalf of its members.
For more information on Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic visit MACo’s COVID-19 resource page.
Next Generation 9-1-1
MACo supported legislation that will add necessary expertise to the Maryland 9-1-1 Board by adding additional representation, including a county finance professional, county 9-1-1 specialists, an expert from the cybersecurity industry, and a member to represent persons with disabilities. The bill also requires telecommunications providers to promptly notify 9-1-1 centers in the event of an outage, which is necessary in order to implement alternative communications methods and to provide proper public notice. Overall, this legislation will help Maryland continue its ambitious and important move toward Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911). This bill passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported legislation that designates the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) as a Cabinet-level agency and transfers the 9-1-1 Board from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to MEMA. This bill would align the invaluable work that both MEMA and the 9-1-1 Board do, enhancing their ability to serve Marylanders. The bill passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
Resilient Maryland Revolving Loan Fund
MACo supported legislation that will provide counties and nonprofit organizations with valuable funds for community resilience projects. Resilience is critical to a community’s ability to recover quickly from extreme events and changing conditions. Federal funds have historically been scarce, with the vast majority becoming available only after disasters occur. By establishing a revolving loan fund for local resiliency projects, this bill offers local governments a sensible, proactive tool to reduce risks and mitigate the impact of disasters. The bill passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported legislation that will strengthen local health departments’ ability to carry out targeted public health initiatives by authorizing paramedics to administer specified vaccines with proper training and oversight. This bill is essential to local health departments and their efforts to improve vaccination rates, providing one of the most successful and cost-effective services to prevent disease and death. The bill passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported legislation that would have created a workgroup to study implementing a Statewide 3-1-1 non-emergency telephone system. The 3-1-1 system would be used to connect Marylanders with non-emergency government services, resources, and information. Workgroup to Study and Implement a Statewide 3-1-1 Nonemergency Telephone System passed the Senate but did not advance in the House following its public hearing.
MACo opposed legislation that would have upended the longstanding, carefully crafted framework that governs municipal incorporation by stripping county governments of proper and necessary input and oversight. Currently, when a petition is presented to a county governing body the county then evaluates potential effects of the possible incorporation on the surrounding area and the county at large and determines through its own public process whether to submit the matter to a referendum of the affected area’s residents. This bill skipped this middle step, denying input from the areas affected by the proposed incorporation. The bill did not advance from the House Environment and Transportation Committee following its public hearing.