School Safety Forum in St. Mary’s County

Senator Steve Waugh announces an opportunity to discuss the details of the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.  

school safety

Senator Waugh, one of the sponsors of the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, will host a School Safety Forum in St. Mary’s County about the bill and its elements.

As described in the Senator’s event invitation:

The bill has 3 major purposes:

  1. Mental and Behavioral Health in Schools
  2. Organizational changes to MD Center for School Safety
  3. Security Measures in Schools

This forum will take place Friday April 27th, from 5-7 pm at the Bay District VFD located at 46900 S. Shangri-La Drive in Lexington Park.  The event is open to the public.

For more information, you may contact the Senator’s office at (410) 841-3673.

 

Article Offers Practical Solutions to the Public Pension Crisis

A retired Harvard-educated lawyer argues for sharing risk as a fix to underfunded pension systems.

An article on MuniNet Guide offers a model pioneered in New Brunswick as a solution that could be implemented by states and local governments throughout the US.

risk
A shared-risk model could fix public pensions, a lawyer leading the non-profit, Pro Bono Public Pensions, argues.

The shared-risk model would bring employees and employers to the table to define a set of sustainable pension benefits, including pension payments computed solely on base salary, and contribution costs shared proportionally by employers and employees.

The shared-risk model would also set out a goal of 120% funding for pension liabilities.

Sit-and-wait strategies dependent on long-time improvements in revenues or investments are eschewed by the article’s author, who also laments the push to convert public pension plans to 401(k)s. Both of these methods have been present in policy discussions relating to Maryland’s pension system, in which about half of Maryland’s counties participate.

The article describes the urgency of the public pension crisis, stating,

It’s time to solve this policy dilemma, which is straining state and local budgets and crowding out vital investments in education, healthcare, and infrastructure. It’s time to stop believing that anything less than 100% funding is realistic and that future legislatures and taxpayers will fund any shortfall. It is time to account properly for future liabilities by adopting a risk-adjusted rate of return and budget with realistic contributions.

For more information see Embracing Shared Risk and Chapter 9 to Create Sustainable Public Pensions.

 

Round-up of the 2018 Session for Counties

MACo’s legislative efforts earned an 80% success rate – and as usual, the counties’ voice makes a difference in Annapolis. Bills we support are more likely to pass, and bills we oppose are more likely to fail.

2018 Legislative Results Infographic

MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its Legislative Committee. This body comprises elected representatives from all of MACo’s members – the 24 county jurisdictions (including Baltimore City).

The “one county, one vote” system of deciding the Association’s legislative strategies, ensures that all counties have an equal voice. All 24 jurisdictions participated regularly in the weekly meetings throughout the session – where they also engaged with policy leaders and advocates who joined the meeting to address county leadership.

Our policy staff have compiled updates and results on all of the bills the Legislative Committee decided to take action on this year.

For the 2018 End of Session Wrap-up for each subject MACo covers, click below:

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Assessments and Taxation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Disparity Grants

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Economic Development Tax Credits

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Education

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Elections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits & Relations

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Environmental Legislation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Finance and Procurement

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Government Liability & Courts

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Health & Human Services

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Housing & Community Development

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Intergovernmental Relations *MACo Initiative Area*

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Parks & Recreation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Pensions

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Planning & Zoning

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Property Taxes

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Safety and Corrections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Road Funding * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: School Construction * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: State Budget & Fiscal Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Tax Sale Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Transportation and Public Works

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Wynne Tax Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: County Tax Revenues

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Other Tax Bills

End of Session Wrap-up: Public Safety and Corrections

An overview of MACo’s advocacy on public safety and corrections legislation in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo successfully opposed a bill that would have set a broad prohibition on the ability of local jails to impose fees for pretrial services, which may result in unintended consequences affecting the ability to provide pretrial services. House Bill 480 / Senate Bill 484 received an unfavorable report from its committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: Pretrial Cost Recovery is Critical to Provision of the Service

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo opposed a bill that would have restricted the ability
for local jails to recoup limited costs for an inmate’s participation in pre-release or work release programs, which could result in the unintended consequence of depleting the availability of these valued offerings. House Bill 1313  received an unfavorable report from its Committee. Bill Information

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo opposed a bill that would have required each county that receives State funding for public safety purposes to establish a pre-release program that provides specified rehabilitative activities and authorized a certain judge to approve the transfer of inmates to a pre-release centers. House Bill 1733 was a late introduction an was never granted a hearing. Bill Information

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill that as it strives to address the
pressing issue of defendants with serious mental illness being held in jail despite an order of commitment to a state treatment facility. House Bill 111 / Senate Bill 233 was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: General Assembly Passes Bill to Expedite Inmate Mental Illness Placements

Push Icons-NOT IDEAL

MACo supported a bill that strives to address the pressing issue of defendants with serious mental illness being held in jail despite an order of commitment to a state treatment facility. Unfortunately, House Bill 385 received an unfavorable report from its committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: Failure to Follow a Prompt Placement of Defendants Leads to Penalties

 

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill that creates a fund to help with
the establishment and advancement of pretrial services in jails across the state.  House Bill 447 / Senate Bill 1156 was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: Pretrial Programs Limit Unnecessary Incarceration

 

Push Icons-NOT IDEAL

MACo supported a bill that would have established the Youth Crime Prevention and Diversion Parole Fund to provide grant assistance to local law enforcement agencies to police high-crime areas.  Unfortunately, House Bill 1732 was introduced late and never received a hearing. Bill Information

 

Push Icons-IMPROVED

MACo supported with amendments a bill to ensure counties retain the authority to take swift action against alarm system contractors that shirk their responsibilities and violate local laws. MACo advanced that the bill’s original 10-day time frame would hinder the ability of local governments to effectively hold bad acting
contractors accountable. House Bill 1117 / Senate Bill 927 was passed by the General Assembly with MACo’s amendments and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: Proper Alarm System Registration Helps Counties Marshal Resources

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo supported with amendments a bill to authorize
rather than mandate additional terms for length of service awards programs. MACo’s proposed amendments would ensure that counties can continue to effectively administer the programs in the best interests of their counties and volunteers. When MACo’s amendments were not added by the sponsor, House Bill 1515 did not advance as a mandate. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: Mandate Across Counties Establishes an Unpredictable Fiscal Impact

For more information on public safety and corrections legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Economic Development Tax Credits

An overview of MACo’s work to promote tax policies that enhance economic development in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

One Maryland Economic Development Tax Credits

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill which generally streamlines and simplifies the One Maryland Tax Credit, making it easier to access for businesses and improving economic development opportunities in our counties. Senate Bill 989/House Bill 1295 simplifies the One Maryland Economic Development program into one credit instead of two, allows businesses to claim credits during their first year in the program, reduces fiscal uncertainty of outstanding credits, and makes the program available to new businesses, among other changes. The legislation has passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Disparity Grants

An overview of MACo’s work to promote economic equity in state funding distributions in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Disparity Grants

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill which extends by two years a temporary enhancement of disparity grant funding for four counties: Caroline, Prince George’s, Somerset, and Wicomico. Senate Bill 764/House Bill 1624 provides reasonable and appreciated relief from State-imposed “caps” in the disparity grant program.  The extension of this relief, offered to those counties with the maximum local income tax rate of 3.2 percent, offers $6 to $7 million a year for two years for public services in counties where this assistance is necessary. The legislation has passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Wynne Tax Bills

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work to protect and grow county revenues in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Wynne Case

In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Maryland’s income tax system, specifically the application of the local income tax, is unconstitutional and must be altered to grant more credits for Maryland residents’ out-of-state income. The decision has had severe fiscal consequences for local governments. As reported by the Washington Post,

The ruling affects about 55,000 Maryland taxpayers, according to the state comptroller’s office. Those who tried to claim the credit on their county income tax returns between 2006 and 2014 are likely to be eligible for refunds, which officials estimate could total $200 million with interest. 

Going forward, certain small-business owners who pay income taxes to another state on income earned in that state will be able to claim a credit for both the state and county portions of the Maryland tax, costing Maryland an estimated $42 million a year in revenue.

In the 2018 General Assembly Session, MACo has continued to advocate on behalf of counties affected by the Wynne ruling.

Wynne Repayment

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill which delays, for two years, the requirement for local governments to repay the Local Income Tax Reserve Account for refunds paid pursuant to the Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury v. Brian Wynne court decision. Senate Bill 742/House Bill 686 merely addresses the remaining matter of bookkeeping for the state-managed reserve account. The legislation has passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Wynne Interest Rate

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo successfully opposed a bill which would establish a punitive interest rate paid to income tax payers receiving refunds under the Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury v. Brian Wynne court decision. Senate Bill 193 would have overridden prior General Assembly action to set the rate for this class of refunds at a more reasonable market-based rate. The legislation did not move out of its Senate Committee. Bill Information

For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Assessments and Taxation

An overview of MACo’s work to improve the tax assessment process in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Property Tax Assessment Inspections

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill that would repeal the requirement that the State Department of Assessments & Taxation (SDAT) perform a physical inspection of every property in every three-year assessment cycle. Senate Bill 10 provides that SDAT must perform physical inspections under specified circumstances, including when a property is initially valued, and when a significant change has occurred.  The General Assembly also accepted MACo’s amendment requiring SDAT to physically inspect large-scale properties within 30 days of a county tax collector’s request. The legislation has passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Recordation Tax Distribution

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MACo supported a bill that would commission an independent audit of county recordation tax collections and remittance for fiscal years 2010 through 2016 and repay any counties underpaid during that time from the Local Income Tax Reserve Account. Senate Bill 953 would have also changed collections and remittance of the recordation tax by the State to mirror county transfer tax collections and remittance. The legislation did not make it out of conference committee before the end of the legislative session. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill that relieves the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) of responsibility for administering a local government public safety officers’ property tax credit enabled last Session. House Bill 89 passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Tax Sale Bills

An overview of MACo’s work on legislation spurred by recommendations of the tax sale task force in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Tax Sale Task Force Legislation

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill that helps remove an obstacle to having accurate land records, and could reduce errant billing leading to extraordinary tax collection complications. This is accomplished by authorizing Registers of Wills to waive probate fees in certain circumstances where an heir may not be able to afford to settle an estate and effectuate the transfer of title to property. House Bill 556 / Senate Bill 466 passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-WON

MACo successfully supported a bill to give counties broader authority to withhold vacant and abandoned properties from tax sale, retain control over them, and instead focus economic development efforts on those properties. House Bill 1112 / Senate Bill 951 passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information

Push Icons-MORE WORK

MACo supported a bill to give counties the authority, if enabled under local law, to withhold vacant and abandoned properties
from tax sale and instead take ownership of the properties themselves after implementing traditional foreclosure. House Bill 1246 / Senate Bill 954 did not pass the General Assembly. Bill Information

Push Icons-WON

MACo supported bills to give counties the authority to withhold properties from tax sale if the total taxes and fees due on the
property equal less than $750. Under current law, counties (except Baltimore City) must send all properties to tax sale if more than $250 is owed. Additionally, the bill requires counties to send
information on free home ownership counseling services to homeowners along with their final overdue bill before their property is subject to tax sale. House Bill 1465 and Senate Bill 952 passed the General Assembly and has been signed by the Governor. HB 1465 Bill Information  | Senate Bill 952 Bill Information

For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Property Taxes

An overview of MACo’s work on legislation involving property tax credits in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Property Tax Legislation

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo successfully opposed a bill that would have expanded the eligibility criteria for three property tax credit programs for specified law enforcement officers by enabling additional law enforcement officers to qualify for the tax credits. Senate Bill 701 received an unfavorable report and was withdrawn by the sponsor. Bill Information

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo opposed a bill that would have significantly expand eligibility for a property tax credit enabled two years ago to include all elderly county residents who have lived within the county for at least 25 years. Senate Bill 427 did not advance out of its committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo opposed a bill that would have opened up property tax savings under the Homestead Property Tax Credit to be “transferable” to new homebuyers, if it is their first home in Maryland. This would have dramatically undermined the longstanding purpose of the credit – to ensure stability in tax bills after the time of purchase. House Bill 1445 did not advance out of its committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

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MACo supported with amendments a bill require the State Department of Assessments & Taxation (SDAT) to mail
notices every three years to taxpayers who are eligible for the homestead property tax credit but fail to avail themselves of it. House Bill 305 / Senate Bill 158 was amended and passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information

MACo successfully supported a bill to allow for the attachment of tax liens in very specialized circumstances where the government leases property for private development, and tax increment financing (TIF) bonds or special taxing districts are used to finance that development. House Bill 1178 / Senate Bill 925 passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information

For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.