School Construction “Game Changer” Draws a Crowd

Legislative leadership and a panoply of county officials decorated the hallways and testimony table in Annapolis on January 23, as House Bill 1 – the Speaker’s “Built to Learn Act” – was heard in the Appropriations Committee. The far-reaching bill leverages casino revenues for revenue bonds, providing a short-term infusion of over $2 billion to school construction projects. County leaders voiced their support – Strong State Funding for School Construction has been a recurring MACo…

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Counties Raise Concerns for Unfunded School Route Mandate

On January 22, 2020, Policy Associate Drew Jabin testified before the Senate to raise practical and cost-driven concerns and oppose SB 65 - Counties - Construction of Sidewalks and Crosswalks - Safe Alternative Routes to Public Schools.  Although MACo supports the goal of this bill, as written it would create a significant unfunded mandate of an unknown amount for county governments to carry out a new state policy.  From the MACo Testimony: As a rule, MACo…

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MACo Opposes Overly-Broad Tax, Fee Exemptions

MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally testified today, January 22, before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to oppose SB 109 - Disabled Active Duty Service Members, Disabled Veterans, and Surviving Spouses - Exemption From Property Tax and Other Charges and Refunds. MACo is concerned with the carryover county fiscal effects of this legislation and would prefer approaches that provide local autonomy to determine the best way to provide these incentives, rather than those that mandate…

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MACo to Ways and Means Committee: Prioritize Schools, Behavioral Health, Local Decision-Making

MACo’s 2020 President, Baltimore City Council Member Sharon Green Middleton, First Vice President, Caroline County Commissioner Wilbur Levengood, Chair of MACo's Education Subcommittee, Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, and MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally today presented MACo’s 2020 Legislative Initiatives to the House Ways and Means Committee. The MACo panel followed the Department of Legislative Services’ analysts, who presented the annual Overview of State Aid to Local Governments. Substance use disorders and mental illness…

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Counties Propose Amendments to Pretrial Tool Reassessments

On Tuesday, January 21, MACo's Executive Director Michael Sanderson delivered testimony to both the Senate and House to support with amendments SB 68  Criminal Procedure - Pretrial Release - Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments (Cross Filed with HB 49).  While counties believe it is important to use evidence-based tools that are effective, efficient, and equitable, this year's version would still have onerous and unnecessary financial and operational impacts that may unintentionally undermine the ability for county…

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MACo Supports Proper Oversight of 9-1-1 Trust Fund

MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally testified in support of  SB 61 Public Safety – 9-1-1 Fees - Audit before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on January 15, 2020. In 2019, the General Assembly passed landmark legislation to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system. Advancing Next Generation 9-1-1 Services Across Maryland was one of MACo's top priorities…

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Inclement Weather Policy for MACo and Annapolis Meetings

As bad weather looms, and the legislative session is in full swing, MACo wants our members and meeting participants to have easy and timely access to information on Annapolis events. On any day with inclement weather, MACo will post information to the blog site on its policy for that day as early as possible — usually by 7:30 am. Here are a few guidelines and procedures for events: The General Assembly – Bill hearings, briefings,…

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Maryland Adds 9,800 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.6%

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week released November's state jobs and unemployment data. According to the preliminary survey data, Maryland added 9,800 jobs last month. Maryland's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6 percent. Unemployment rates in November were lower in seven states, higher in five states, and stable in 38 states and the District of Columbia, according to the data. Seven states had jobless rate decreases from a year…

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Counties Concerned about Occupational License Change’s Impact on Local Programs

On Thursday, March 14, Natasha Mehu submitted written testimony to the Judicial Proceedings Committee in opposition to SB 974 Occupational Licenses or Certificates - Application Determinations - Use of Criminal History. This bill would prohibit specified state and local licensing authorities from denying an occupational license or certificate applicant due to a prior criminal nonviolent conviction. Counties are concerned the bill may impact local licensing considerations as their own licensing programs tend to ask about…

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MACo Supports Creation of Nuisance Insect Control Program

On Tuesday, Leslie Knapp submitted written testimony in support of HB 1353 Agriculture - Nuisance Insects. This bill would establish a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture that would be used to control nuisance insects, replacing an existing black fly control program. From the MACo Testimony: The program establishes a Nuisance Insect Fund (with a proposed $400,000 in funding in the FY 2020 budget). The Fund may be used to cover the direct and…

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