The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work on finance and procurement policy in the 2023 General Assembly.
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 levels of government. Under these more conventional circumstances, MACo’s advocacy led to a plethora of favorable outcomes for its members.
MACo supported SB 112/HB 328 – State Finance and Procurement – Grants – Prompt Payment Requirement. By standardizing prompt payment practices, this bill creates a level playing field for state grant recipients, including local governments and nonprofits that provide a wide swath of viral community services for Maryland residents. Current law requires the State to pay procurement contract invoices within 30 days of receiving a proper invoice. However, state grants are generally not subject to COMAR procurement rules. As amended, SB 112 requires the State to pay invoices to grant recipients within 37 days or be liable for interest on the delinquent payment. The bill passed the General Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature.
MACo supported SB 659/HB 709 – Modernization of State Financial Systems – 21st Century Financial Systems Enterprise with amendments. This legislation envisions a thoughtful but expedient process to replace the State’s outdated financial system to improve efficiency and service delivery. Maryland has one of the country’s oldest accounting and payment processing systems. By modernizing the financial system, the bill could reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and provide the necessary flexibility to meet dynamic end-user requirements. As county governments regularly interface with the system, MACo urged the legislature to ensure the modernization process considers local input. The amendments allow for more input from multiple stakeholders, including local governments. The bill passed the General Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature.
MACo supported HB 781/SB 699 – Maryland Technology Development Corporation – Equitech Growth Fund and Commission with amendments. This bill establishes the Equitech Growth Fund and Commission to bolster Maryland’s competitiveness as an innovation economy. Local governments, just like the State, have a vested interest in economic development. Accordingly, MACo is offered an amendment to add a county representative to the Commission. The bill passed the General Assembly with MACo’s amendments and awaits the governor’s signature.
MACo opposed HB 450/SB 116 – Property Tax – Municipal Corporation Business Personal Property Tax Rate – Alterations, as it represented an unwarranted overreaction to a decidedly narrow policy concern. One municipal government’s potentially concerning tax rate actions may justify some State action or oversight. Still, the amended version of SB 116 represented a broad and sweeping new process that potentially jeopardizes county and municipal revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The potential for concerning effects on local bond ratings by creating such uncertainty is hard to overstate. The bill did not pass in the 2023 session.
MACo opposed HB 407 – Department of Assessments and Taxation – Salary Incentives for Assessors – Authorization, but supported sponsor amendments to limit the bill’s scope. This bill sought to allow county governments to supplement compensation for employees at the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). While the goal of filling these professional roles is noble, the method of shifting this obligation to county governments would promote unequal service delivery according to each jurisdiction’s ability to pay and introduce unwarranted variability in what should be uniform State functions. As a result, the bill sponsor offered an amendment to limit the bill to fringe benefits (striking language relating to salary enhancements). Still, the bill failed to advance in the 2023 session.
MACo opposed HB 1166 – Omnibus Procurement Reform Act (“OPRA”) of 2023. This bill would have a mandated one-size-fits-all approach for county procurement and require all contract appeals to be reviewed by the State instead of allowing local governments to manage their procurement systems and appeals. The bill would have significantly increased costs and delayed county procurements. The bill did not pass in the 2023 session.