Virginia Empowers Local Responders to Protect Airspace Around Emergencies

While a work group in Maryland reviews unsafe use of unmanned aerial systems (also called UAS and commonly referred to as drones), Virginia passed a law granting authority to local first responders to stop UAS interference during emergencies. In 2015, Maryland passed a law that preempted the county or municipal governments from law, specifically, the law "preempts the authority of a county or municipality to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the testing or operation of unmanned…

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Regulations Align with School Construction Laws and Processes

The Interagency Commission on School Construction has released draft changes to regulations relating to emergency sheltering, and state cost shares. Draft regulations on school construction circulating for comment touch on many aspects of school construction that affect county and state capital costs. One aspect is how the state determines how much of a new facility it will help build. Another is how often the state updates its assessment of local wealth, which defines how large…

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If Paradise Were In Your County

Tragedy struck Paradise, California when a major wildfire devastated the town. But response to a regional disaster is never accomplished alone. Is your county ready to respond and request resources needed to protect your residents during emergencies?   As reported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on November 17, hundreds of emergency managers from dozens of state and federal agencies responded to the California wildfires that almost completely destroyed Paradise, California and wreaked terrible damage throughout the…

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Are We There Yet? How New Technology Is Driving Government Policy

The Maryland Association of County Information Technology Officers hosts a survey of issues in county government technology.  From wireless use to cloud-based computing, technology is not only driving cultural change, but also propelling government policy. As broadband, small cells, and 5G service raise standards for constituents and define economic development resources, cloud-computing expands possibilities for government, including information-sharing services, data-sourcing techniques, and telecommuting. However, these new technologies also expose governments to a new level of…

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Money, Politics, and Public Pensions

An editorial from The Washington Post suggests Maryland could achieve full funding of its pension system through planning and leadership. The Editorial Board of The Washington Post comments on a recent study on state pension obligations performed by JP Morgan Chase, and describes the political factors that guide pension funding decisions. In the editorial, Maryland could finally stabilize pensions. It just needs foresight — and leadership, the Board shares the history of Maryland's pension funding, and its continuing struggle…

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If You Pay Your Bills at Work, You May Be Putting Your Personal Information At Risk

In the aftermath of a ransomware attack, a borough government in Alaska informs employees that their personal information may have been compromised. As reported by Route Fifty, following a ransomware attack in which the attacker sought $400,000 payment in bitcoin, a municipal government in Alaska is now cautioning their employees that their personal information may have also been comprised in the attack if they used work computers to conduct personal business. From Route Fifty: The…

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When Green Fades to Gray: Workplace Standards in the Cannabis Era

The Maryland Association of Human Resources Officers, an affiliate of the Maryland Association of Counties, sponsors an educational session about cannabis and county employment issues at the MACo Winter Conference. The use of medical cannabis, now legal under State law, may create a gray area within county government personnel policies. Traditional health and safety polices – especially important for county government roles that involve operating utility equipment, supervising children, and protecting public safety – are…

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Women of MACo Will Welcome Newly Elected Officials in Cambridge

The Women of MACo, a chapter organization of the Maryland Association of Counties, will hold a special reception for female county elected officials, featuring remarks from the President of the Women Legislators of Maryland.  The Women of MACo will host a reception to welcome newly elected female county officials to the chapter organization at this year's MACo Winter Conference. The reception be held on Wednesday, January 2, 2019; 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Hyatt…

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How 75% of State School Construction Funding May Be Spent

The Interagency Commission on School Construction takes the first step in reviewing funding for the fiscal 2020 year's capital budget for school construction. This is the first season of school capital budgeting under the modified process laid out by the General Assembly in its 2018 law, the 21st Century School Facilities Act. The Interagency Commission, created by that 2018 law, heard a presentation on the new process, and a quick overview of some of the…

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Pack It In – Proposal Seeks To Increase Efficiency And Provide Flexibility In School Construction

Staff to the Interagency Commission on School Construction reach out to county governments and other stakeholders for input into recommendations to an upcoming work group on school construction. The recommendations for state funding for public school construction removes hard caps on square footage eligible for state funding participation while continuing to encourage space-efficient schools.  Maryland's public schools are built through a partnership between the State of Maryland and Maryland's counties, who both provide funding for school…

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