USDA Tech Transfer Workshop FREE and Open to the Public

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WHAT?

The Rural Maryland Council and the Energetics Technology Center are hosting a FREE workshop, the USDA Tech Transfer.

WHEN?

The workshop takes place Wednesday, May 23, 2018, from 8:30 am to 1 pm.

WHERE?

The workshop will be held at:

College of Southern Maryland
Community Education, Room 202
8730 Mitchell Road
La Plata, MD 20646

WHY ATTEND?

This event is open to everyone. It focuses on driving business by obtaining more knowledge on technology transfer, the process of transitioning technologies from the research lab to the marketplace.

According to their event page, anyone working with agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, biology, or a business can benefit from learning how to put US Department of Agriculture discoveries into practice.

Attendees will learn how to license and commercialize USDA intellectual property.

WHAT NOW?

 

Learn more, check out the agenda, and register for the conference.

Baltimore County Passes “Oscar’s Law” to Protect Pets from Elements

The Baltimore County Council has unanimously passed “Oscar’s Law”, a bill that sets the conditions in which it is unsafe to leave animals outdoors. The bill was introduced following the death of a dog due to hypothermia after being left alone outside.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Oscar’s Law defines “adverse environmental conditions” that are unsafe for animals to be left outside without shelter, including temperatures below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees, wind, rain, snow, ice, sleet, hail and exposure to direct sunlight or hot pavement. Under those conditions, pets would have to be brought inside within 30 minutes of the onset of those conditions.

Oscar’s Law also clarifies that either an animal control officer or a police officer can investigate animal cruelty cases.

The article notes that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has announced the creation of a special police department unit that would manage cases of animal abuse.

For more information read:

Baltimore County Council OKs ‘Oscar’s Law,’ outlining unsafe outdoor conditions for animals (The Baltimore Sun)

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

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

MACo seeks to protect local licensing flexibility, expand access for residents to critical services, and enhance citizens’ safety through its business affairs advocacy. The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in this area in the 2018 General Assembly.

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

Electrical and Trade Licensing

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo opposed a bill that would have repealed long-standing local authority to license electricians and imposed a new, less comprehensive, statewide system. MACo believes it is still premature to address this issue while broader discussions on electrical licensing reform are still underway. The bill received an unfavorable report from the House Economic Matters Committee.

Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Rural Broadband Access

Push Icons-IMPROVEDMACo supported a bill that would extend the timeline for a task force examining rural broadband access with amendments to ensure the rural parts of all of Maryland’s counties are examined. The task force has made valuable progress in identifying challenges to underserved or unserved areas of the State. The bill has passed both houses unanimously with the MACo amendments and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-IMPROVEDMACo also supported a bill that would require the mapping of inventory and assets throughout the State with amendments to ensure that the rural areas of all counties are afforded the same review and benefits of the inventory and mapping. This will significantly encourage steps toward advancing broadband service for all areas of our state. The bill has passed both houses unanimously with the MACo amendments and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Wireless Security Systems

Push Icons-WONMACo supported a bill that establishes sensible parameters on the regulation of wireless security systems with amendments that provided clarity to vague provisions proposed law and protected the safety of county residents. It passed both houses unanimously with MACo amendments and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Small Cells

Push Icons-MORE WORKMACo opposed a bill that would have regulated small cell technology across the state and significantly preempted local authority and had inequitable impacts on local communities. While counties embrace innovation and the advancement of broadband technology, local authority and community decision-making is crucial. The bill’s hearing was canceled and did not move out of committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Limited Residential Lodging (Airbnb!)

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported two bills to require short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, and individuals who act as hosts on those platforms to be registered with the Comptroller and regulated. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 1081 did not make it out of committee and House Bill 1604 was given an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee. MACo Coverage

For more information on business affairs legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.

Airbnb Bill Drills Down to Reporting Requirements for Counties

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified in support of Senate Bill 1081, “Business Regulation – Limited Residential Lodging”, before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on April 4, 2018. The bill had been previously heard by the Senate Finance Committee, but was rereferred to Budget and Taxation.

Counties support the limited, tax-specific version of this bill, but maintain that the reporting requirements from limited lodgings, such as Airbnb, are critical to effectively calculating and determining appropriate local taxes.

From MACo Testimony:

Counties across the state have either enacted local laws or are in the process of deciding how to regulate short-term rentals. Local governments are best situated to address the specific needs of their diverse and distinct communities – particularly regarding public health, public safety, and zoning matters. Accordingly, the bill expressly protects the authority of local governments to enact local laws concerning the regulation of short-term rentals.

Counties believe SB 1081 balances the shared goals of a reasonable regulatory scheme for limited residential lodging that will both protect consumers and let the industry thrive.”

For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

 

Amendments Satisfy County Concerns Over Wireless System Regulation

MACo submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 645, “Business Regulation – Wireless Security Systems – Local Government Licenses and Permits”, to the Senate Finance Committee on March 28, 2018.

HB 645 defines a wireless security system and prohibits local governments from requiring any license or permit to install, maintain, inspect, replace, or service a wireless security system that does not require a fire protection plan review. As introduced, MACo had concerns with the vague language of the bill.. It did not account for longstanding, commonsense state and local public safety protections for security systems, which should apply regardless of whether the security system is wired or not. As amended, the bill accomplishes its objectives more clearly, and without upending important and appropriate local oversight.

From MACo Testimony:

As amended, the bill ensures that:

  • Low voltage is explicitly defined as 50 volts or lower;
  • Only electrical licenses or electrical permits are prohibited for wireless systems;
  • Individuals who install wireless systems comply with state laws governing security system technicians;
  • Wireless security system operators and users comply with any local alarm business registration and alarm system registration laws; and
  • Wireless systems must meet the appropriate building codes wherever installed.

HB 645 provides clarity to vague provisions of current law and protects the safety of county residents, while setting a framework to appropriately regulate wireless security systems.”

For more updates, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Broadband Access Brings Rural Areas of the State Online

MACo submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 961, “Department of Housing and Community Development – Rural Broadband Service – Inventory and Mapping of Assets”, to the Senate Finance Committeee on March 28, 2018.

The bill includes rural and underserved areas in a statewide inventory of assets. This map would begin the steps to ensuring that broadband is available in every part of the state, but would be particularly important in rural areas that have little to no service. MACo supports the language in this bill, as it includes these areas in a comprehensive view of service in the State.

From MACo Testimony:

As amended, HB 961 would authorize the Department of Housing and Community Development to complete an inventory of state and local government assets by June 1, 2020. The inventory would then be used to create a map that includes all assets. Initially, this inventory and assessment only included population density and business density for unserved and underserved areas in specified areas of the state. As amended, the bill appropriately expands the range of geographic areas to be inventoried and mapped to all unserved or underserved areas of Maryland instead of areas in specified regions of the state.”

The bill has already passed the House by a 136-0 vote. For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Short-Term Rental Bill Dies in House Committee

The House Economic Matters Committee voted down a bill that would have established a state-wide regulatory scheme for online short-term regulatory platforms, such as Airbnb, and the residents who rent their rooms or properties through the platform. Likely ending the prospect of this issue being addressed this session.

HB 1604 was the third attempt at creating some sort of statewide law for short-term rental platforms that has fallen short. Previous iterations of the bill were viewed as too burdensome. However, this year’s bill was more narrowly tailored and less overreaching. A hearing was held earlier this week on a Senate version of the bill SB 1081.

MACo supported HB 1604 as it struck a reasonable balance between state regulation and local authority; requiring the entities to be registered with the Comptroller, keep records, and to act within the local laws of the jurisdictions they operate in. Counties across the state have either enacted local laws or are in the process of deciding how to regulate short-term rentals.

For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Conduit Street Podcast: Post-Crossover Roundup, School Construction, School Safety, and More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson provide listeners with a roundup of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives, as well as a host of other bills MACo has weighed in on this year, discuss the latest on school construction, and examine the debate on school safety. MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Rural Broadband Task Force Needs More Time to Develop Recommendations

MACo submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 243, “Task Force on Rural Internet, Broadband, Wireless, and Cellular Service – Study and Extension”,to the Senate Finance Committee on March 22, 2018.

This task force has studying access to service in specified unserved and underserved areas of the state, and this extension would allow it to ascertain issues in all rural areas of the state and allow recommendations to come to fruition. This access is critical to economic development in counties, and extending the time of the task force is allowing it to effectively put forward recommendations that consider all facets of rural broadband access.

From MACo Testimony:

Addressing gaps in access and availability to these services transcends the specified regions of the bill and impacts residents living in rural areas of urban counties as well. As amended, the bill ensures that the rural areas of all counties are afforded the same review and benefits of the extended study.”

For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.