Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater will host a town hall to gather constituent input on the County’s priorities for the 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly. County Executive Fitzwater’s priorities include paratransit and non-emergency transportation, historic preservation, and safety standards.
“A people-centered government relies heavily on the input of the residents we serve,” Executive Fitzwater said. “We have an opportunity to advocate for the growing needs of our community by ensuring everyone’s voice can be heard as we present our legislative package.”
Paratransit / Non-Emergency Transportation
Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced priority legislation to establish a task force to study and recommend ways to accommodate a growing need for paratransit and non-emergency transportation services (NEMT) — door-to-door transportation service for people unable to use public transit to get to medical appointments.
This type of transport is increasingly challenging and costly for counties, as many patients require multiple direct curb-to-curb trips per week to treatment centers on precise schedules. This is very different from the fixed routes typical for other county transit services.
Maryland offers limited grant funding for these services. Still, funding has been flat for 16 years, and the growing demand for NEMT and paratransit services has strained the limited funds available to meet the increasing demand.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, a 2022 MACo Legislative Initiative increased reimbursement rates for specified emergency medical transports and expanded services eligible for reimbursement. However, meeting the growing demand for paratransit and NEMT remains challenging for counties across the state.
Historic Preservation Tax Credit Reform
Frederick County’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program was established in the Maryland Code. Priority legislation would strike the existing program from the Maryland Code so the County Executive and Council can consider legislation establishing an updated program in the County Code.
Proposed revisions would expand the historic preservation tax credit eligibility to more properties by basing the credit on the Qualified Rehabilitation Expenses rather than a change in assessed value.
Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) Standards
Frederick County Fire Captain Joshua Laird died in the line of duty in 2021 after responding to a house fire in Ijamsville, and Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services firefighter Nathan “Nate” Flynn died in the line of duty in 2018 while operating at the scene of a house fire in Clarksville. In both cases, gas lines ruptured, which made the fires significantly more dangerous.
Most gas leaks result from problems with unsafe materials used in pipes that pump natural gas to residential and commercial buildings. In response, in 2022, MACo successfully supported legislation to update Maryland building standards to require modern, safer materials in replaced or repaired gas lines. The legislation prohibits non-arc-resistant CSST for new construction and specified renovation projects.
In addition to promoting safer buildings generally, this change helps protect first responders who may enter the building during a fire or structural crisis, compromising the integrity of these systems and elevating that safety risk. County Executive Fitzwater’s priority legislation would build on the 2022 legislation by requiring CSST to meet specified safety and performance standards.
Legislative Town Hall
County Executive Fitzwater will host a legislative town hall at Winchester Hall on October 5 at 6:00 pm. Virtual participation is available.
The public is invited to comment on proposals or suggest additional topics for consideration. The meeting will be live on FCG TV, cable channels 19/1085, and webcast at FrederickCountyMD.gov/LegislativeTownHall.
Callers may listen to the town hall and speak during the meeting by calling toll-free 855-925-2801 and entering meeting code 8634.