School Construction Process, Incentives Gets Another Work Group

The passage of SB 551 from the 2021 session, heavily amended in the session’s final days, includes provisions for a new Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities.

SB 551 followed a circuitous path to passage this session, but ultimately will refine various provisions of the recently-passed Built to Learn Act (to accelerate school construction funds by leveraging receipts from casino facilities). Along the way, a Senate-supported compromise to create a work group to examine and recommend next steps on school funding incentives, was incorporated into the final version of the bill that passed.

The relevant segments of HB 511, in its final “enrolled” version (and still awaiting the Governor’s action, though there are no signals of dissent), are shown below:

So – the Work Group is created by state law, in an uncodified section. Its charge includes the term “determine” but those matters would effectively serve as recommendations to the General Assembly, and possibly the Interagency Commission on School Construction, for changes to law or practices affecting project design, etc. Many of the natters envisioned in the full charge of the body would require changes to statute, rather than mere administrative practice, and therefore would require subsequent legislation through the General Assembly.

The extended charge of the workgroup is detailed in the HB 551 enrolled text as well, with the all-caps bolded text showing the additions made by the House of Delegates during the final days of session:

By year’s end, the workgroup will presumably deliver a wide range of recommendations on the appropriate manner to wealth-equalize the funding system, to offer incentives looking toward the “total cost of ownership” framework, and other substantive matters that may shape the nature of school facilities for the next generation and beyond.

More details on SB 511 are available on the Maryland General Assembly website.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties