State’s Rank Rises on Forbes ‘Best States for Business’ List

Maryland is inching closer to the top of Forbes “Best State for Business List” ranking in at number 26 over all. That is up from number 30 last year.

From Bethesda Magazine:

Maryland rose four spots to come in at number 26 on the business publication’s annual “Best States for Business” list this year. Forbes ranks states based on six factors—business costs, labor supply, economic climate, regulatory environment, growth prospects and quality of life. Maryland ranked seventh overall in labor supply, but was outside the top 25 in four other categories and 16th in growth prospects.

The article notes that North Carolina came in first and that West Virginia came in at last.

Read Bethesda Magazine for more information.

 

Montgomery Department of Liquor Control Wins National Award

The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) has received the 2017 National StateWays Best Practices Award for its Legislative Outreach Program. The award specifically recognizes the DLC for its efforts in reaching out to local and state leaders at last year’s Maryland Alcohol Forum.

According to a press release,

“We are very excited to have won this national award,” said Robert Dorfman, director of the DLC. “We are a national model for public safety and it remains one of our highest priorities.”

The forum, “Innovative Solutions to Keeping Communities Safe,” was geared to alcohol licensing administrators from counties around the state. The event highlighted alcohol licensing needs, which require legislative changes at the state level, and it educated attendees about the public safety benefits of alcohol regulation. The forum was funded by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA).

“Participants were involved in open discussions about the importance of alcohol regulation as it pertains to public health,” said Emily DeTitta, outreach manager for the DLC. “It was very positive. The event revealed common goals such as supporting the health and welfare of our residents and creating a safe and vibrant nightlife.”

Over the past few years, the number of alcohol-licensed businesses in Montgomery County has been the highest in County history, at nearly 1,100, which is second in the state behind Baltimore City.

Read the full press release for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #5 – The Power of Partnership

MACo’s Winter Conference will focus on intergovernmental cooperation and ways that counties can partner with entities in the public and private sector to achieve the best results for Maryland’s residents. Sessions will highlight collaboration across county lines and service areas to address priorities like the opioid epidemic, Next Gen 9-1-1, and the environment, along with other important topics like mutual aid agreements and cooperative purchasing.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the MACo Winter Conference and its focus on reviewing timely issues that will be relevant during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session.

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Broadband Throughout The Land #MACoCon

In today’s world, internet connectivity is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity. Broadband is critical to the future of our economy, education, and safety. Many Marylanders have either limited or no access to broadband, creating a gap in the ability of some communities to participate in the global economy. In order to address the service gap, counties are employing new and innovative solutions. Attend this session to learn about the challenges and best practices associated with expanding broadband access in Maryland.

Broadband Throughout the Land

Description: Public-Private Partnership, or P3, has become a buzzword in recent years, especially when it comes to infrastructure – and for good reason. As Maryland counties look to expand the availability and adoption of robust, high-quality, affordable broadband services in their communities, P3s have taken center stage. This session will provide an overview of common broadband partnership models and identify several factors that communities should consider when developing a successful partnership – what to look for in a partner, methods to structure resourceful partnerships, and how to build effective relationships.

Speakers:

  • Mark E. Ripper, Director, Dept. of Technology Services, Carroll County
  • Victor Tervala, Chief Solicitor, General Counsel Division, Law Dept., Baltimore City
  • James D. McCormick Jr., CIO, Caroline County

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

 

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Montgomery Seeks Public Input on Small Cell Antenna Zoning

(Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Office of Public Information)

Montgomery County is seeking input from residents on a draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) that would address the deployment of small cell antennas on public property, including streetlights and low buildings.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro cells (what you would typically imagine as a large, tall, and free standing cell tower), allowing them to be placed on short poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings. The technology is proliferating in part to increase network capacity and coverage as the demand for wireless services has increased.

Additional background from the county’s Office of Public Information:

Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County. Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.

Community meeting information:

  • Date: Monday, October 23, 2017
  • Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Location: Stella B Warner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Rockville, MD 20850

To view the live community meeting remotely:

For more information on the meeting, to view the amendment, and to submit comments visit:

Montgomery County Transition Facilities Coordination Group – Information on Draft ZTA Amendment

 

City Council Member Pushes for Restaurant Health Inspection Transparency

In an attempt to increase transparency over the health inspection reports for the more than 5,700 restaurants in Baltimore City, Council Member Brandon Scott has introduced a bill requiring the establishments to post their most recent inspection results on the outside of their restaurants.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The bill is the latest attempt in what’s been a four-year effort by Scott to let Baltimore customers know more about the cleanliness of the restaurants in which they eat. Unlike previous failed attempts, this version of the bill does not contain a letter grading system.

“This is about being transparent about the health of the citizens of Baltimore,” Scott said, citing restaurant grades in New York and elsewhere.

The article notes that the bill is raising concern restaurant owners who have opposed Scott’s prior legislative attempts to require them to post letter grades of their inspection reports. The current bill takes a different approach to transparency by requiring the full report to be posted. Council Member Scott has also introduced a bill requiring restaurants to offer healthy drink options with kids’ meals.

While his previous inspection transparency bills failed, he was successfully in passing a bill in 2015 that required restaurants that were forced to close due to health code violations to post signs noting why they are closed. Additionally the Baltimore City Health Department has launched an online database providing consumers with information regarding restaurant health inspections.

To learn more:

Baltimore councilman seeks to require restaurants to post health inspection results (The Baltimore Sun)

 

Montgomery Passes Legislation On Short-Term Rentals

Legislation Addresses Short-Term Rental Services Like Airbnb and HomeAway

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact two legislative proposals that address the legal and regulatory status of short-term rentals in the County. The two measures, Zoning Text Amendment 17-03 and Bill 2-16, represent Council Vice President Riemer’s and the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommendations to balance the substantial economic potential for County residents of short-term residential services like Airbnb with concerns about regulating these services.

According to a press release:

ZTA 17-03 makes bed and breakfasts limited uses in most residential and mixed-use zones. It limits the total number of adult overnight guests in a short-term rental to six, limits the total number of adult overnight guests per bedroom to two, and requires one off-street parking space for each rental contract. These measures put in place a regulatory framework that did not exist before, addressing concerns about the potential for residential housing to be used exclusively as a short-term rental service.

ZTA 17-03 was approved with two revisions: (1) The dwelling unit used as a short-term rental must be the property owner’s or owner-authorized resident’s primary residence, which was an amendment recommended by the PHED Committee and (2) If the property owner or owner-authorized resident is not present in the residence, the property can be used as a short-term residential rental for a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year, which was an amendment recommended by Councilmember Katz.

The Council also enacted Bill 2-16, which requires that several conditions be met to receive short-term residential licensing. Bill 2-16 was introduced by Council Vice President Riemer and cosponsored by Councilmember Rice.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together, we were able to find a balance that works for us here in Montgomery County,” said Council Vice President Riemer. “This legislation will allow residents and visitors to get the value of home-sharing services, while preventing abuse and stopping investors from creating de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods and taking valuable housing stock off the market.”

Useful Links

Montgomery County Council Bill 2-16

Montgomery County Council Zoning Text Amendment 17-03

Betting Sports Betting Makes Legislature’s Agenda

Representatives of Maryland’s casino industry delivered a message to the Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight yesterday: authorize sports betting, and move on this now.

The federal Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), passed in 1992, prohibits sports betting in most states, including Maryland. However, a number of states have considered legislation recently to allow or at least evaluate sports betting, including include Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia. Last session in Maryland, Delegate Jason Buckel sponsored House Bill 989, Gaming – Wagering on Sporting Events – Study and Implementation, which would have created the Task Force to Study the Implementation of Sports Gaming, and under certain terms, allowed the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (SLGCC) to issue sports gaming licenses.

The State of New Jersey actually passed laws in 2012 and 2014 meant to allow sports betting at state casinos and racetracks, and over the summer, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill that imposes a 10.5 percent tax on winnings for companies that operate daily fantasy sports leagues. New Jersey’s activities triggered litigation that has arrived before the Supreme Court. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the New Jersey case challenging the constitutionality of preempting most states from authorizing sports betting. It is expected to hear the case next spring.

But waiting until the Supreme Court makes a decision may be too late, argues the Maryland gaming industry.  The Baltimore Sun reports:

[Joe] Weinberg, chief executive of Cordish Global Gaming, urged members of the Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight to take up the issue in 2018 so that a constitutional amendment may be put on next year’s general election ballot. …

Weinberg warned that Maryland’s competitors for casino tax dollars already are lining up to change their laws in case the Supreme Court rules on a pending case to allow more states to offer sports betting.

“If we wait for 100 percent clarity on federal law, we will be two to three years behind the surrounding states,” he said.

The bottom line: if authorized, sports betting could materially affect the State’s – and possibly counties’ – bottom lines. All would welcome the additional tax revenue, we bet.

Free Wednesday Webinar on Cannabis Regulation

Webinar: Regulating Marijuana – Emerging Challenges, Best Practices and Technology Solutions

The new regulatory processes being launched across the country require input from many local departments (licensing, permitting, environmental health, public safety, etc.) and close coordination amongst counties, cities and states. Local government staff are being tasked with delivering new systems under tight deadlines and with high stakes for accuracy and compliance.

Wednesday, September 20
11 a.m. PDT | 2 p.m. EDT

In this webinar, we will discuss:

• Emerging best practices and current challenges for local marijuana regulatory programs
• The key role robust, integrated technology systems play in successfully regulating marijuana
• How pioneers like the City and County of Denver, CO addressed the challenges and opportunities presented by marijuana legalization

The webinar is sponsored by Accela, and follows up on a presentation delivered at the NACo Annual Conference in July of this year.

Register here for the free webinar.

Anirban Basu Delivers Economic Forecast at #MACoCon

In the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session, “Markets, He Wrote: Looking for Clues into the Economy’s Direction“, economist, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group, Inc., Anirban Basu, provided audience members with a local, state, national, and global economic forecast.

Senator Middleton Introduces Economist Anirban Basu.
Senator Middleton Introduces Economist Anirban Basu.

Basu discussed positives such as the state’s overall job growth and economic standing. But tempered that news with recognition that there is regional disparity between Washington and Baltimore metro counties which are experiencing growth, while rural areas in the east and west are experiencing stagnation or decline. Overall, Basu had ominous predictions for the future with threats of a downturn as soon as 2019.

The session was moderated by Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton and held on Friday, August 18, 2017.

The MACo summer conference was  held August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.