Montgomery County Planners Finalize Draft Airbnb Guidelines

Montgomery County planners have finalized draft guidelines to regulate Airbnb and similar shortterm rentals that are currently not allowed to operate within the county. The proposal will need to go before the County Planning Board and the County Council for approval.

As reported on Bethesda Beat:

The final draft of a proposal to regulate Airbnb-style rentals would let Montgomery County hosts accommodate guests for up to 30 days at a stretch, so long as they secure a special license.

County planners have been working for months to craft the guidelines, and their final draft will come before the Montgomery County Planning Board on May 4.

Under the final draft, hosts must be licensed through the county and apply for a renewal each year. The homeowners should demonstrate that they’ve notified their neighbors of the rental activity and maintain a log of all their guests. They can’t rent their homes for more than 90 days out of the year and must provide at least one off-street parking space for each rental contract. Each rental can accommodate up to six overnight guests who are 18 or older.

Read the full article on Bethesda Beat for more information.

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

MACo seeks to protect local licensing flexibility 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 2017 General Assembly. 

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

Beer and Wine Tasting

Push Icons-WONMACo sucessfully supported passage of a bill to authorize a limited-scope license for beer and wine tastings at the Ocean City Convention Center, for certain events that promote Maryland-based products. This legislation only applies to events hosted by organizations representing local governments at the Ocean City Convention Center, and only for events promoting Maryland products for “tasting” purposes, such as the Taste of Maryland event at the MACo Summer Conference. Senate Bill 1102 was passed by both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Trade Licensing & Qualifications

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo successfully stopped legislation to remove all electrical licensing authority from local jurisdictions by 2020 and established a statewide licensing framework for master electricians. Counties and their local electrical boards are best situated to oversee and discipline electricians working within their jurisdictions. House Bill 1368 received an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill intended to create more flexibility for counties hiring plumbing inspectors, and requiring certain experience for county inspectors. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 461/House Bill 40 was withdrawn by its sponsors. Bill Information

 

 Rabies Vaccination Reporting

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported passage of a bill to authorize designated local animal agencies to request rabies vaccination certificates or information for dogs, cats, and ferrets from licensed veterinarians. MACo worked with county animal control offices to conduct a survey on this topic during the interim and worked closely with advocacy groups on this legislation. Senate Bill 366/House Bill 432 passed the Senate but did not make it out of committee in the House of Delegates. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Residential Lodging

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported with amendments a bill to require shortterm rentals, such as Airbnb, and individuals who hosts on those platforms to be registered with the Comptroller and regulated. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 463 did not make it out of committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

Savings & Solutions with New U.S. Communities Paint & Paint Supplies Contract

U.S. Communities is excited to announce the award of a new cooperative contract for Paint and Paint Supplies. This contract was awarded to The Home Depot through a competitive solicitation process conducted by the lead public agency, Maricopa County, Arizona. The contract term is for three years with the option to renew for seven additional one year periods.

Learn more about this new contract that provides services and savings:

  1. Up to 20% off paints, stains and primers
  2. All paint purchases eligible for rebate of up to 5%
  3. Free direct-to-jobsite delivery
  4. Dedicated field support

More Information on the Paint Contract

Join U.S. Communities for one of its free informational webinars. If you are unable to join one of the webinars, click the information link below to have a Home Depot representative contact you.

Legislative Black Caucus Calls for Special Session on Medical Cannabis

The head of the Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday her organization wants Governor Larry Hogan to recall the General Assembly to Annapolis for a one-day special session to pass a law expanding the medical marijuana industry.

That legislation failed in the waning minutes of the annual 90-day session on Monday night, ending a months-long fight to grant lucrative medical cannabis growing licenses to companies owned by minorities.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

Despite a state law requiring regulators to seek racial diversity, none of the 15 firms to win preliminary licenses last year was led by African-Americans.

Baltimore Democratic Del. Cheryl Glenn, chair of the 51-member caucus, said the last-minute failure of the group’s top priority left black lawmakers “feeling rejected, dejected and taken for granted” by the Democrats who lead the General Assembly. The caucus sought to issue another five licenses and reinvent the commission that had awarded the initial ones.

“Nothing changes, and most importantly, that means African-Americans are left out of this billion-dollar industry in Maryland, and that is not acceptable,” Glenn said Tuesday.

Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer declined to comment on the request. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, referred the topic to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, also a Democrat. Busch said that the caucus needed to raise it with the governor.

Glenn planned a morning press conference Wednesday to continue to press the issue. She’ll be joined by African-American prospective business owners, Baltimore defense attorney Billy Murphy, and representatives from GTI Maryland, a company suing the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission over how it awarded the initial round of licenses.

GTI and another firm, Maryland Cultivation and Processing, filed lawsuits against the commission after they were removed from the pool of winning applicants as the commission sought geographic diversity among growers. Negotiations broke down in the General Assembly over whether to write into state law that the two companies are entitled to a new license.

Miller insisted that any legislation contain that provision. Busch refused to consider it until late Monday, when it appeared no legislation would pass without the provision. The final vote on the House floor did not take place before the midnight deadline to adjourn.

Glenn said this has caused a rift between the caucus and Democratic leaders who rely on its members to help pass legislation.

“They failed us, and it stings,” she said. “And the way that we resolve it is the one-day special session. Let’s pick up where we left off.”

The Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association, which represents companies that received initial permission to grow and process the drug, said the legislation’s failure allows it to continue to “focus on the primary goal: getting medical cannabis to Maryland patients,” hundreds of whom turned up in Annapolis to make their voices heard.

Dr. Paul Davies, chairman of the cannabis commission, said he was “very relieved” the commission would not be reconstituted and that it could continue work to issue final licenses that would put the drug in patients’ hands by summer. The commission has hired a diversity consultant, and by law will re-evaluate in 2018 whether the market for medical marijuana can support more growers, processors or dispensaries.

“The commission gets the message that racial and ethnic diversity is important,” Davies said. “We plan to aggressively pursue a policy of diversity.”

Read the full article for more information.

Register Now: Maryland Governor’s Business Summit 17 on May 18

Join Governor Hogan for the first Maryland Governor’s Business Summit on May 18, 2017 from 8am until 4pm. Explore topics on human capital, global trends and business strategy. Connect with a wide array of Maryland’s business leaders. The Summit will be at the Hilton Baltimore – Key Ballroom: 401 W Pratt Street Baltimore, MD 21201.

Governor Larry Hogan said,

“Great things are happening in Maryland. Our economic climate has gone from 49th in the nation to number 11 – the largest jump among states. Our companies are adding thousands of new jobs to our communities, more than 73,000 since January 2015.  We are making meaningful progress for business.  Let’s capture this momentum!”

Breakout Topics Include:

  • Redefining urban centers across Maryland
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Future of manufacturing in Maryland
  • Next generation learning environments
  • Top education leaders discuss innovation through partnerships
  • Maryland on the front lines of global threats

Tickets are currently available for $150. Click here to register.

Stay up-to-date with the Maryland Department of Commerce by subscribing to the Maryland Business Pulse newsletter.

Local Electrical Licensing Repeal Bill Dies in Committee

A bill that would remove all electrical licensing authority from local jurisdictions by 2020 and would establish a statewide licensing framework for master electricians received an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee this week.

MACo opposed HB 1368 as journeymen and other local classes of electricians would effectively lose their local ability to perform services. Counties also believe their local electrical boards are best situated to oversee and discipline electricians working within their jurisdictions.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street: MACo: Don’t Remove Local Electrical Licensing Authority

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

 

MACo: Allow Maryland-Based Breweries at OCCC Tasting Events

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in favor of legislation (SB 1102) that would authorize a limited-scope license for beer and wine tastings at the Ocean City Convention Center, for certain events that promote Maryland-based products.

MACo’s testimony states,

For the last four years, MACo has offered a “Taste of Maryland” reception as part of its annual summer conference in Ocean City. The event has grown to nearly 1,000 guests, and has gained popularity as a venue for our jurisdictions to showcase their many food and drink options. The event is a “sampling” event, where small portions of food, snacks, and wine have proven very popular with attendees who may not otherwise learn about the many offerings from across Maryland.

Current liquor laws apparently do not allow this event to feature Maryland-brewed beer in the same fashion as wine, and this has kept local breweries from participating in this once-a-year event. SB 1102 does not seek to upend the overall balance the General Assembly has struck regarding the two industries, but simply seeks to afford the same opportunity to showcase beer and wine at this limited type of event. SB 1102 only applies to events at the Ocean City Convention Center (itself a license holder), and only for events promoting Maryland products for “tasting” purposes.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

‘Airbnb’ Regulation Bill Snagged in Senate Committee

A bill to require short term rentals, such as Airbnb, and individuals who hosts on those platforms to be registered with the Comptroller and regulated hit a road block in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday. It is unlikely to make it out of committee.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Members of the Senate Finance Committee expressed little interest in passing a bill during a work group meeting on the issue Friday afternoon.

They’re considering a bill that would require short-term rentals posted on websites like Airbnb, HomeAway and FlipKey to file paperwork with the state, pay state sales taxes and pay local hotel taxes.

After a couple hours of discussion, committee chairman Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton said it seems that the General Assembly may best be suited only to deal with the issue of state sales taxes. The state Comptroller’s Office already has taken the position that short-term property rentals through websites are subject to the state sales tax.

Local governments are better suited to deal with making sure their local hotel taxes are collected, Middleton said. Local hotel taxes range from 3 percent to 9.5 percent.

MACo participated in Friday’s work group and had supported the bill in question, SB 463, with amendments.

Read The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street:

MACo Backs Regulation of Short Term Rentals Protects Local Autonomy

Airbnb Bill Ignites Debate Between Old Regulations and New Economies

MACo testimony on SB 463.

MACo Opposes Local Permitting & Registration Restrictions for Security Systems

MACo Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, recently testified in opposition to legislation (HB 1271 and SB 952) that would severely restrict a local government’s ability to regulate security system and monitoring companies. These restrictions weaken compliance with local codes, erode public safety protections, and overburden local resources

MACo’s testimony states,

PERMITTING
HB 1271 requires local governments to follow a universal permitting and notification system for low-voltage security systems. It also requires that these permits be available for bulk purchase without specifying the project. Currently, companies must comply with any local low-voltage electrical permitting requirements. These permits help to ensure that for each project the work to be performed is up to local code and performed by individuals properly licensed to do so within the jurisdiction.

REGISTRATIONS
HB 1271 also prohibits a local government from requiring a security system contractor or a monitoring agency to register customers and sets limits on the ability to penalize companies that fail to do so. Accurate registration is an important safety and resource management tool for local governments. It is the only way for a county to know who the customers are, which companies are servicing them, and whether all parties are complying with the local laws. As the company contracts directly with the customer, they are in the best position to ensure that the customer is properly registered. Counties do not have the ability to track down who the customer is to enforce registration. Failure of a customer to be registered often only comes to light once an alarm has been set off and local police are notified.

FALSE ALARMS
Because of the crucial role contractors and monitoring agencies play in the registration and enforcement process, local governments would almost certainly suffer an increase in false alarm calls under this bill. False alarms are a significant drain on local law enforcement resources. Each false alarm call takes officers away from addressing true public safety needs. When customers are properly registered with the county, police are quickly able to get into contact with them so that any problems can be fixed before there are more false alarms and resources drained responding to them.

Meredith Wivell, Mid Atlantic Chapter President from the False Alarm Reduction Association and Alberto Hook, Director of the False Alarm Reduction Section in Montgomery County, joined Ms. Mehu on a panel in opposition to this bill. HB 1271 was heard by the House Economic Matters Committee on March 6 and SB 952 was heard by the Senate Finance Committee on March 9, 2017.

Joining Ms. Mehu to testify on SB 952:

  • Meredith Wivell, Mid Atlantic Chapter President, False Alarm Reduction Association
  • Steve Thomas, Division Chief Commercial Building Construction, Montgomery County
  • Alberto Hook, Director, False Alarm Reduction Section, Montgomery County Police Department
  • Steven Heggemann, Manager, Alarm Reduction Section, Baltimore County
  • Thomas Waugh, Chief of Special Investigations Unit, Baltimore City Housing
  • Brad Shipp, False Alarm Reduction Association

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo: Don’t Remove Local Electrical Licensing Authority

MACo Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, recently testified in opposition to legislation (HB 1368) that would remove all electrical licensing authority from local jurisdictions by 2020 and would establish a statewide licensing framework for master electricians. By doing this, journeymen and other local classes of electricians would effectively lose their local ability to perform services.

MACo’s testimony states,

While all but two counties (Allegany and Garrett) license master electricians, there are five counties (Calvert, Charles, Harford, Montgomery, and Prince George’s) that license journeyman electricians. There are also a number of other local licensed classes of electricians including general, limited or restricted, and apprenticeships. As the bill removes all licensing authority for local jurisdictions, journeymen and other local classes of electricians would effectively lose their local ability to perform services. The bill contains no comparable state license system or exemptions for these other classes of electricians. These electricians would now have to meet the more rigorous standards necessary to obtain a statewide master electricians license in order to continue to provide their limited level of services.

Furthermore, local electrical boards are best situated to oversee and discipline electricians working within their jurisdictions. Counties appreciate that the bill retains some ability for local boards to regulate electricians through a registration systems. However, for proper enforcement action it is important for counties to be able to restrict, suspend, or revoke a state license holder’s right to perform electrical services in that jurisdiction.

Brad Shipp from the Maryland Burglar & Firearm Association and Steve Thomas, from Montgomery County’s Division of Commercial Building Construction joined Ms. Mehu on a panel in opposition to this bill.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.