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.
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 2021 session include successful county initiatives to expand broadband access and strengthen support for our state’s front lines of public health and prevention efforts – the local health departments. MACo also successfully supported legislation to establish an assistance program for homeowners facing tax sale, led a successful effort to restore veto-driven cuts to the Disparity Grant program, and ensured that Maryland will continue its ambitious and important move toward Next Generation 9-1-1. Several bills 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 to clarify and codify the 20-year precedent that governs the state and local funding for election-related systems and equipment. 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 in weekly virtual meetings throughout the legislative 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 2021 End of Session Wrap-Up for each subject MACo covers, click below: