Hogan Announces Plan for Casino Revenue “Lockbox” to Boost Education Funding

Governor Larry Hogan, flanked by Comptroller Peter Franchot and Secretary of Budget & Management David Brinkley, today announced the “Commitment to Education Act of 2018,” a proposal to ensure that taxes on casino revenues set aside for education are used to supplement, not supplant state funding for public schools. According to Governor Hogan, his plan will add $1 billion in school construction funding and $3.4 billion in operating funding for public schools over the next ten years.

Last month, legislature leadership announced a plan to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The ballot question would ask voters to approve of putting a “lockbox” on casino money (around $500M per year), requiring it to be used for education above the amount set by state formulas. The Governor’s proposal would not require a referendum, it would be done through statute.

According to Governor Hogan, his legislation would phase-in casino revenues to a special fund (the “lockbox”) over the next four years. The first 20% percent would be used for school construction projects (around $100 million next year) and the rest would be used to supplement operating budgets.

The Administration is expected to provide more details on the proposal in the coming days.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Preventative Maintenance Saves County Funds in the Long Haul

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in support of House Bill 403, “Community Colleges – Facilities Renewal Grant Program – Established”, before the House Appropriations Committee on February 13, 2018.

The bill establishes a grant program that would provide for needed improvements, repairs, and maintenance at community colleges. Counties currently are a part of a state-local cost formula that allows both parties to contribute to the funding responsibility. This investment could promote long-term cost savings through preventative action on smaller maintenance projects.

From MACo Testimony:

The grant program envisioned in this legislation will provide helpful assistance in tackling maintenance projects that will improve the learning environments of community college students and may extend the life of community college facilities, a joint investment of counties and the State of Maryland.

The facility renewal program will fund for small renovations those projects with total estimated costs of less than $1 million. Under this legislation, each year beginning in fiscal 2019, the Governor must appropriate 5% of the annual appropriation for the Community College Construction Grant Program to the new facility renewal program.

The funds would be distributed evenly to community college applicants, with no college generally receiving more than $500,000 grant funding in one fiscal year, and with community colleges alternating years in which they receive grants. In this way, the program assures that all community colleges statewide are provided with some assistance for needed renovations and improvements.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Join a Cultivating Discussion at the NACo 2018 Farm Bill Summit

WHAT:

The NACo 2018 Farm Bill Summit will examine the need for a “comprehensive and long-term” farm bill. The event is sponsored by the NACo Rural Action Caucus.

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WHERE:

The summit will take place at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport in Palm Beach County, Florida.

WHEN:

The 3-day event occurs from April 5-7, 2018.

WHY GO:

NACo reported:

All counties are encouraged to attend this summit as we examine the need for a comprehensive and long-term farm bill to help strengthen our national economy and provide critical services to all counties — rural and urban alike. The summit will host educational tours, workshops and panel discussions that examine how the farm bill touches every facet of American life, including conservation, trade, jobs, infrastructure, research, nutrition, disaster assistance and more. As Washington, D.C. moves forward with debating the 2018 Farm Bill, NACo is ready to bring your voice to the table.

HOTEL:

Hilton Palm Beach Airport
150 Australian Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Reserve a room by calling (561) 684-9400, reference the National Association of Counties to secure the conference rate.

WHAT NOW:

Register here.

Check out other NACo events.

Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

An opinion piece in The Washington Post calls for the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan to include modernizing the nation’s 9-1-1 system. Specifically, the Op-Ed stresses the importance of moving to Next Generation 9-1-1, technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

According to The Washington Post:

Even as an estimated 240 million 911 calls continue to be placed annually, the systems that service them have grown obsolete, unable to handle photos, video, downloads, precise geo-locating and even, in most places, simple text messages. That’s a threat not just to public safety but also to national security.

Worryingly, no one seems quite sure how to pay for a modernization to what’s known as Next Generation 911 (“NG911” in industry parlance), whose cost could exceed $20 billion. This week, as hundreds of public-safety and industry officials gather in the District for their annual 911 conference, many will have one main question on their minds: Why not prioritize an upgrade as part of the Trump administration’s national infrastructure project?

In Maryland, state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat alarmed at the deaths of constituents in her district involving 911 breakdowns since 2006, has introduced legislation to help localities start the transition to NG911.

Advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 Systems is one of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives. Maryland citizens demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers. MACo urges a concerted statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing the expertise and needs of front-line county managers.

Senate Bill 285/House Bill 634 – “Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment” creates a Commission to examine at the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

MACo is in strong support of SB 285 and HB 634, you can read the MACo testimony here.

Useful Links

The Washington Post Op-Ed: Here’s an idea for infrastructure week: Bring 911 into the 21st century

MACo Initiative: Next Gen 9-1-1 Commission Would Guide MD Forward

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Community College Affordability Possible with State Funds

Legislation to require the State to fully fund community colleges under the Cade formula  would increase the State share of per-pupil funding to 29% of that appropriated to 4-year public institutions of higher education in the State. MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in support of House Bill 516 before the House Appropriations Committee on February 13, 2018.

The increases in state aid to community colleges would continue gradually through 2022 in this bill with an accelerated phase-in. It allows for counties and community colleges to manage costs and provide more Marylanders with access to opportunities in higher education through low-cost education and job training.

From MACo Testimony:

When state funding for community colleges lags, additional pressure builds on county budgets and on student tuition. When county budgets face distress from the economic climate or state actions, the local contributions cannot reliably offset these cutbacks. For the past several years, this combined dynamic has led to increased tuition costs for Maryland community college students, at a time when the training and education opportunities are arguably most needed.

HB 516 would increase the Cade formula, signaling a new commitment to community colleges on behalf of the State.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

MACo Resists Bill That Would Upend Effective Local Pay Scales

MACo offered amendments to a bill that would prohibit employers from determining an individual’s salary off of prior wage or pay history. The bill was heard on February 13, 2018 to the House Economic Matters Committee.

While the bill tackles a laudable goal in ensuring wage equality and not perpetuating wage disparities already entrenched through prior salary history, it significantly affects already established and effective wage and salary systems currently being used by local governments.

County and local government generally already perform many of the requirements in this bill  and they have pay scales in place that are specifically tailored to consider internal promotions and transfer of current employees.

From MACo Testimony:

While counties already comply with the majority of requirements outlined in this bill, MACo is concerned that prohibiting county employers from considering current wages in the internal promotion or transfer of current employees is impractical. Therefore, MACo requests the bill be amended to remove local government employers from its effect.

Efforts to promote wage equality should not intrude on public sector employee scales, which appropriately base compensation on experience and past workplace success.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

April Showers Bring May Climate Preparedness at the Local Solutions Conference

WHAT?

The Antioch University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are teaming up to host the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience’s 2018 Local Solutions: Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference.

WHERE?

The conference takes place at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH

WHEN?

The 3-day conference will occur April 30 to May 2.

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WHY PARTICIPATE?

The Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience reports:

This capacity-building program is geared towards small government planners and decision-makers striving to create healthy resilient communities that are better able to handle severe weather and climate impacts. Through sessions, speakers and workshops, this conference guides local leaders on how to make climate resilience an aspect of their daily operations.

The conference hosts participants from Maine to Washington D.C. while topics range from Nuts and Bolts of Conducting a Vulnerability Assessment to Ticks, Mosquitos, Flies, Oh My!

Keynotes for the conference include Dr. Susanee Moser, Director and Principal Researcher of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting; and Nina-Marie Lister, Founder and Director of Ecological Design Lab/ Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University in Toronto.

SPECIAL FUNDING FOR MARYLAND PARTICIPANTS

The conference is $345, but a Town Creek Foundation grant is available for participants coming to the conference from Maryland.

The Maryland Travel Grant may be used for up to $1,000 in expenses relating to registration, lodging, and travel.

WHAT NOW

View the agenda here.

Register for the conference here.

Apply for the grant here.

 

Paid Leave Delay Bounces to the House

MACo offered testimony in support of Senate Bill 304, “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation”, on February 13, 2018 before the House Economic Matters Committee.

The bill would delay the enforcement of compliance with the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act for 60 days.

It passed the Senate last week.

From MACo Testimony:

County decision-making is, for obvious purposes, a public and deliberative process. Counties adopting new personnel policies must go through hearings and opportunities for public comment prior to their adoption. This process, by its nature, will take weeks to complete – even for those jurisdictions that had policy re-writes “ready to go” on the day the new state law was adopted by the General Assembly.

SB 304 proposes a reasonable timetable for compliance, and will afford local governments the time to carry out their obligations through the appropriate process.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

 

More Data Gives Counties a Clearer Picture of the Opioid Crisis

A bill authorizing law enforcement officers to report information related to an overdose within 24 hours of responding to the incident is a potential aid to county efforts to obtain reliable data concerning opioid overdoses in each jurisdiction. MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu appeared before the House Health and Government Operations Committee on February 13, 2018 to testify in support of House Bill 359, “Health – Reporting of Overdose Information”, with amendments.

Counties encourage law enforcement officers and other health providers to promptly submit data related to overdoses that they have responded to. This would provide local jurisdictions with added flexibility and accurate data that will help them in developing effective ways to tackle the opioid crisis.

From MACo Testimony:

As Maryland continues to grapple with the opioid crisis, it is vital that local governments and first responders have timely and accurate information regarding overdoses. Secure online platforms that provide the ability to track overdoses across jurisdictional lines are valuable tools for pinpointing spikes in overdoses and observing patterns of use and distribution. This information would help governments efficiently manage the use of their resources to address the threats to public health and public safety.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

 

 

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Both county and municipal governments, still feeling the permanent effects of devastating cutbacks to state roadway funding, have made restoring Highway User Revenues a perennial legislative priority.  HB 1569, introduced today, represents a compromise between counties and municipalities, whereby all local governments would have their local share of Highway User Revenues fully restored.

A law requiring employers to provide employees with sick leave will go into effect on Sunday, despite a veto last year from Governor Larry Hogan and a last-ditch effort by the state Senate to delay its implementation. The law requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) (SB 285/HB 634), one of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Priorities, had a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee this week. Counties from across the state sent public safety professionals to stress the importance of advancing NG911 in Maryland.

The General Assembly is on pace to introduce more than 4,000 bills in 2018. With “crossover” just five weeks away, legislators are scrambling to meet the deadline.

Senator Ed Kasemeyer, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, announced he does not intend to seek re-election to another term. His decision would leave yet another member of the powerful fiscal panel uncertain for the next four-year term.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down the compromise on Highway User Revenues, discuss the paid sick leave law, recap the NG911 hearing, preview big changes on the horizon for the Maryland Senate, and more!

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:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.