The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of transportation and public works in the 2023 General Assembly.
MACo generally advocates for the appropriate state assistance with roadways and bridges across our local communities. Transportation is a shared function in Maryland, with state-maintained roadways (mainly numbered roads) and locally-maintained roadways interlocking throughout most areas.
In addition to the swearing-in of a new governor, the 445th legislative session kicked off with more relaxed health and safety measures compared to the turbulence of the last few years. This enabled MACo’s policy team to dynamically engage with private-sector stakeholders, legislators, and representatives from all divisions of government. Under these more conventional circumstances, MACo’s advocacy led to a plethora of favorable outcomes for its members.
MACo supported HB550/SB548. This Administration bill modifies two transportation sector programs funded by the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF); modifies the authorized uses of certain Alternative Compliance Payments (ACPs) deposited in SEIF; and increases the dollar amount cap on the amount of certain SEIF revenues that may be allocated toward administrative expenses. HB550/SB548 Clean Transportation and Energy Act passed the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB928. This bill redefines “off-the-road motorcycle” to mean a motor vehicle that is not otherwise registered or eligible for registration under the Transportation Article and that either has two or three wheels or is a three- or four-wheel all-terrain vehicle (ATV). “Off-the-road motorcycle” includes motor vehicles designed for off-the-road operation, more commonly known as dirt bikes and minibikes; it does not include mopeds, motor scooters, electric bicycles, or electric low speed scooters. The bill extends to municipalities the same authority as counties already have to regulate the operation of off-the-road motorcycles, require them to be registered (albeit still just with the county), and impose a registration fee for them. Finally, counties and municipalities may enforce the Maryland Vehicle Law for violations involving off-the-road motorcycles and enact laws governing the impoundment of off-the-road motorcycles, the conditions for their release from impoundment, and if lawful, their forfeiture. HB928 Motor Vehicles – Off-the-Road Motorcycles – Local Regulation and Enforcement failed in the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB94/SB484. This bill authorizes local authorities (statewide) to decrease the maximum speed limit to no less than 15 miles per hour (MPH) on a highway (regardless of whether in or outside an urban district) but only after performing an engineering and traffic investigation. This authorization replaces two existing provisions that allow a local authority, under the same circumstances, to decrease the speed limit in an urban district to an unspecified level and to decrease the speed limit outside an urban district to no less than 25 MPH. The bill retains the exception for specified highways in Calvert County but otherwise makes additional conforming changes. Additionally, a locality is prohibited from implementing a new speed monitoring (i.e., speed camera) system to enforce speed limits on any portion of a highway for which the speed limit has been decreased to less than 25 MPH pursuant to this authorization. HB94/SB484 Vehicle Laws – Reduction of Speed Limits by Local Authorities failed in the General Assembly.
MACo opposed HB942. This bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), by October 1, 2024, to revise project eligibility criteria,standards for review, and requirements for applicants for wetlands and waterways authorizations for stream restoration projects associated with achieving local Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit targets, Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals, mitigation goals, or other restoration goals. Before MDE may issue a wetlands and waterways authorization for a stream restoration project associated with achieving those targets and goals, MDE must provide public notice of the application for the authorization and hold a public information meeting on the application. MDE must also incentivize the use of alternatives to stream restorations that are less destructive to the environment; require stream restoration projects to meet certain requirements; and monitor and evaluate approved projects. HB942 Wetlands and Waterways Program – Authorizations for Stream Restoration Projects failed in the General Assembly.
Maco supported SB392. This bill establishes the Wastewater Facility Supplemental Operations and Maintenance Grant Program – administered by the Maryland Water Infrastructure Financing Administration (MWIFA) within the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) – to support the State’s water quality goals by providing grants for publicly owned wastewater facilities facing staffing shortages, maintenance backlogs, or other operations and maintenance (O&M) challenges that threaten the facility’s ability to discharge clean water and meet all applicable federal, State, and local laws. SB392 Wastewater Facility Supplemental Operations and Maintenance Grant Program – Establishment failed in the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB 893/SB 883 with amendments. This bill establishes various restrictions relating to the authority of a “water utility” to shut off water or sewer service to a customer. A water utility may not shut off service for nonpayment of overdue bills for specified protected customers and individuals. The bill also generally prohibits a county or county tax collector from selling real property solely to enforce a lien imposed for unpaid water, sewer, or sanitary system charges, fees, or assessments. The bill makes other related and conforming changes. HB893/SB883 Water Access for All Protection Act) failed in the General Assembly.
MACo opposed SB512. This bill requires a water supplier to maintain a detectable residual disinfectant level of chlorine in the water distribution system and at frequent and regular intervals, conduct sampling and analysis of residual disinfectant concentrations to determine the residual disinfectant level of chlorine at all points in the distribution system. SB512 Drinking Water – Legionella Pneumophila Bacterium – Minimizing Growth and Transmission failed in the General Assembly.
MACo opposed SB513. This bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to create, operate, and maintain a statewide Open Water Data Reporting Platform to make public specified data related to the provision of drinking water and wastewater services in the State. A “water utility” operating in the State must provide MDE with specified data and information to be published on the platform. Among other things, the bill establishes provisions governing the platform, the data and information required to be reported by water utilities, penalties for violations, and a required annual report. MDE is authorized to develop specified regulations. SB513 Environment – Collection and Reporting of Drinking Water and Wastewater Data and Information – Requirements failed in the General Assembly.
MACo opposed SB531. This bill establishes several requirements for water suppliers, with exemptions for specified entities. Among other things, a water supplier must conduct inspections of critical valves and fire hydrants; develop a cybersecurity program by February 1, 2024; develop and submit mitigation plans to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) under certain circumstances; develop and submit an asset management plan to MDE by April 1, 2025, and a related annual report; and submit annual certifications of compliance with specified State and federal laws. SB531 Water Safety and Cybersecurity Act of 2023 failed in the General Assembly.
MACo provided a letter of information regarding HB624. This bill alters provisions governing notice requirements applicable to a water supplier when a water system is not in compliance with State drinking water regulations. HB624 Environment – Suppliers of Water – Notification Requirements failed in the General Assembly.
Revenue Sources and Fees
MACo supported HB1125/SB939. This bill codifies the Locally Operated Transit System Grant Program in the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). HB1125/SB939 Transit – Grant Funding for Local Service – Alterations passed the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB12/SB151. This bill establishes the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Capital Grant and Revolving Loan Fund and its purpose, funding sources, and authorized uses. For each fiscal year, the Governor must include in the annual budget bill an appropriation sufficient to ensure a fund balance of at least $5.0 million at the start of the fiscal year. The bill also expands the definition of “transit-oriented development”; alters existing provisions and establishes new provisions relating to the designation of TODs; and requires the Secretary of Transportation to annually submit a report to the General Assembly on efforts to increase TOD throughout the State. HB12/SB151 Equitable and Inclusive Transit-Oriented Development Enhancement Act passed the General Assembly.