MACo to prioritize infrastructure, elections, defending local officials against threats and intimidations, and ensuring first responders have the resources they need to deliver life-saving care.
This week, the MACo Legislative Committee adopted the Association’s Legislative Initiatives for the 2022 Maryland General Assembly Session. MACo’s Legislative Committee will take positions on hundreds of bills, but these four issues serve as the Association’s priorities for the year.
REINVEST IN LOCAL TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Restoring local Highway User Revenues (HUR) has been a MACo priority since the State slashed the local share during the recession-driven budgets. The former share of $555 million was drastically cut back, and while counties stepped forward during the 2018 legislative session as part of a five-year funding boost, their cumulative share still trails far behind what they used to receive.
Currently, the county share is around $200 million through fiscal 2023 – and only $56 million across 23 counties. A “cliff effect” looms once that five-year funding level expires in FY 2024. With the compounding factors of a 2013 expansion of transportation revenues and additional funds recently allocated exclusively for State projects, local governments have fallen even further behind on funding owed – and desperately needed – to maintain Maryland’s roads and keep residents safe.
Counties appreciate the efforts from the last term and urge the General Assembly to continue advancing toward fully funding local infrastructure – MACo advocates that counties should again receive funding for their lion’s share of transportation infrastructure located in Maryland.
PROTECT LOCAL OFFICIALS AGAINST THREATS AND INTIMIDATIONS
Maryland law provides protections for local elected officials who perform their duties – making it a crime for residents to threaten or intimidate them or otherwise impede their public responsibilities. However, unlike some other states, Maryland does not extend these protections to other non-elected officials who perform administrative or oversight roles, but who may suffer the same sort of potentially dangerous feedback from irate residents.
Legislation should extend reasonable protections to other local officials who face public criticism and pressure for their duties.
ENSURE FUNDING FAIRNESS AND COUNTY ROLE IN ELECTIONS
The State Board of Elections often makes unilateral decisions that place substantial administrative and cost burdens onto local Boards of Elections, whose operations depend on county funding. Without proper resources to offset substantial costs for equipment purchases/leases, equipment storage and transportation, staff compensation and training, and other overhead, these state-mandated expenditures represent significant unfunded mandates on county governments.
MACo advocates to codify the 20-year precedent that voting machines and related systems be a split funding responsibility between the State and counties, and ensure proper local input for large contract/procurement decisions that oblige county funds.
RESET EMERGENCY TRANSPORT AS A REALISTIC RECOGNITION OF CARE
Public Ambulance and EMT services are an increasingly important part of the continuum of care for Marylanders in need. Unfortunately, state laws do not reflect this reality – and only acknowledge care delivered by emergency medical staff under minimal conditions for insurance billing purposes. Support for both volunteer and career companies suffers as a result.
A statutory realignment of Maryland’s definition of care and compensation would reset this framework and more properly reimburse locally funded emergency service providers for their care under a more realistic set of circumstances than is currently reflected in state law.
By its bylaws, MACo must select four legislative initiatives as a focus for each Maryland General Assembly Session. First, the membership submits dozens of issues for consideration as initiatives. MACo’s Initiative Committee members then review, analyze, and discuss these proposals through a months-long process until they narrow the list to four initiatives. Finally, the Initiatives Subcommittee presents the slate to the Legislative Committee for adoption.
For more information, contact MACo Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally.