Senate Committees to Meet Virtually Through Mid-February

The Maryland Senate Office Complex will be open to the public during the 2022 legislative session, but Senate committee hearings and briefings will be virtual until February 14. Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson this week outlined the health and safety protocols for 2022 legislative session. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the House of Delegates announced that committees will meet virtually for the entire 2022 session. Maryland Senate Safety Information and Protocols Masking Policy Any…

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Treasury Issues Final Rule for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued the Final Rule for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, enacted as a part of the American Rescue Plan, which delivers $350 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The SLFRF program ensures governments have the resources needed to respond to the pandemic, including providing health and vaccine services, supporting families and businesses…

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January 5 Board of Public Works Meeting: Here’s What Counties Need to Know

The Board of Public Works (BPW) — a three-member panel including Governor Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and State Treasurer Dereck Davis — reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies, many of which affect county governments. The BPW considered and approved the following requests and recommendations at its meeting on January 5, 2022: Note: This is a list of county-specific items, not a comprehensive list of BPW actions. Allegany County A request from…

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Anne Arundel Exec Proposes Public Campaign Finance Resolution

The Anne Arundel County Council will consider a resolution, introduced on behalf of County Executive Steuart Pittman, to place a charter amendment on the 2022 ballot to create a system for public financing of County elections. State law authorizes counties to establish a public campaign financing system. Like similar systems adopted by Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and the State of Maryland, Resolution 1-22 aims to reduce the role of large private…

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FCC Rolls Out Affordable Connectivity Program

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Transitions to New Affordable Connectivity Program The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices. The transition from the EBB program to ACP is now underway. All households fully enrolled in the EBB program as of December 31, 2021, will continue to receive their current monthly benefit until March…

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State Launches $248M Homeowner Assistance Fund

Governor Larry Hogan today announced the launch of the Maryland Homeowner Assistance Fund. The fund, established by the American Rescue Plan Act, aims to help homeowners experiencing financial hardship amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will receive $248 million in federal funding over three years to support mortgage relief, home repairs, housing counseling, and legal services. Maryland Homeowner Assistance Fund Approximately $171 million to provide loans to…

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Comptroller Franchot Becomes Chair of State Pension Board of Trustees

Comptroller Peter Franchot recently assumed the chairmanship of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees, which establishes rules and regulations to administer several pension systems and manage pension funds for about 412,000 members. These include active and retired state employees, teachers, state police, judges, and other law enforcement personnel. The 15-member Board of Trustees also directs the management of a $70 billion investment portfolio and adopts the actuarial assumptions necessary to fund…

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MD House GOP Caucus Elects New Leadership

The Maryland House Republican Caucus re-elected Delegate Jason Buckel (District 1B, Allegany County) as minority leader and tapped Delegate Haven Shoemaker (District 5, Carroll County) to serve as minority whip. Shoemaker replaces Delegate Chris Adams (District 37B -- Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, and Wicomico Counties). Adams ran for minority leader on a ticket with Delegate Matt Morgan (District 29A, St. Mary's County) as the candidate for minority whip. According to a House Republican Caucus press release:…

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Hogan Names New Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation

Governor Larry Hogan today announced three key appointments, each effective on January 11, 2022: Former Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill was named secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce, succeeding Secretary Kelly Schulz. Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Executive Director James F. Ports, Jr., was named secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), succeeding Secretary Greg Slater. William Pines, MDTA’s chief engineer, will succeed Ports as MDTA’s executive director. According to a press release:…

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Top Issues of 2022 Session: Elections — Funding Fairness and County Role

With the 2022 legislative session just around the corner, MACo is profiling some significant issues that stand to gather attention in the General Assembly’s work. Here, we preview potential reforms to the administration, procedures, and financing of elections. Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years -- an essential function that proved challenging amidst the pandemic. Current law fails to recognize modern trends in…

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