Sen. Hershey Supports County “Right To Work” Option

State Senator and MACo friend Stephen Hershey indicated plans to introduce legislation during the 2018 session to give counties the option to become “right to work” counties, enabling them to opt to prohibit employers and unions from compelling union membership.

Senator Hershey sees the legislation as an economic development initiative. He makes the case that employers are more likely to bring manufacturing jobs to right-to-work locations, since those manufacturing employees are less likely to unionize than workers in non right-to-work locations. 

From the Cecil Whig:

Essentially, by prohibiting unions from compelling membership, the law enables employees to choose not to join the union and pay union dues. Without the mandate that employees join their respective union — if one exists — the union loses funds and membership, therefore losing political weight during collective bargaining.

Maryland is not a right-to-work state, meaning that companies and unions can compel union membership. The idea behind compulsory membership is to eliminate “free riders” — those who benefit from the union without paying union dues.

This legislation, which is still being drafted, would give local jurisdictions the ability to say whether they are a right-to-work county or possibly even a right-to-work municipality.

Read the full article here.

Greater College Park P3: Greater Than Sum Of Its Parts

One could consider Maryland a breeding ground for public private partnerships, or P3s. County P3s abound from economic development projects and broadband deployment to stormwater management and green infrastructure investment.

Just look at what Prince George’s County, the City of College Park, the State of Maryland, University of Maryland, and private developers have underway in Greater College Park: over 30 projects and $2 billion in public and private investment, including a hotel, four new academic buildings, and a public-private research hub. By capitalizing on public investment in education and research and private sector innovation, the Discovery District has become greater than the sum of its parts.

Check out this video:

Find out how this impressive partnership came to fruition from Margave Strategies CEO, former Howard County Executive and MACo Past President Ken Ulman at the MACo Summer Conference session, Perfecting the Potential of Public Private Partnerships.

MACo’s Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

New Look Vacation, Old Look Taxation

Will Burns, Airbnb Policy Director speaks at the MACo Summer Conference session, The New Look Vacation: Opportunities & Responsibilities in the Sharing Economy.  Photo courtesy @CitoyenBurns.

The sharing economy is rapidly changing the way people work, play and travel. Online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO offer tourists and business travelers alike entirely new ways to experience Maryland counties, providing opportunities to experience the greatest they have to offer from entirely new vantage points.

This remodeling of tourism also offers county residents new avenues to earn income and provide services for profit – begging the need for local governments to reexamine whether their methods of tax collection remain as equitable as they were when hospitality depended upon the brick and mortar, multi-unit hotel or motel. After all, if it acts like a hotel, shouldn’t we tax it like one?

At the MACo Summer Conference session, The New Look Vacation: Opportunities & Responsibilities in the Sharing Economy, representatives of the traditional lodging industry, Airbnb and county government all address how counties can apply hotel taxes equitably without undermining the sharing economy’s economic development and tourism potential. Hear perspectives from Airbnb Policy Director Will Burns, Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Amy Rohrer, and Montgomery County Chief of Treasury Michael Coveyou on how to best balance innovative new opportunity with basic principles of tax equity.

The New Look Vacation: Opportunities & Responsibilities in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is revolutionizing the tourism industry – and also disrupting how counties regulate and tax it. With a multitude of services from accommodations to transportation now booked online with everyday providers just trying to earn an extra buck, the way we tax and regulate the tourism industry must treat all providers equitably while also ensuring the safety of our residents. Join this session to learn more about the challenges, potential solutions, and county responsibilities in the sharing economy.


  • Will Burns, Midwest Policy Director, Airbnb
  • Amy Rohrer, President & CEO, MD Hotel and Lodging Association
  • Michael Coveyou, Chief, Division of Treasury, Montgomery County Department of Finance

Moderator: The Honorable Jason Buckel, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Friday, August 18, 2017; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

MACo’s Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:


Balance Food & Home Safety With Business Growth at #MACoCon

Learn how environmental health officials protect the public by ensuring safe food and homes, their role in driving economic development by providing certainty and safety, and the balancing act they sometimes must perform to allow for new and innovative business models.

Walking the Tightrope: Protecting the Public, Energizing the Economy


Environmental health officials work to protect the health and safety of county residents. They also play an important role by increasing confidence in our growing and changing economy. From familiar needs like restaurant cleanliness to the challenges and opportunities presented by the up-and-coming food truck industry, these dedicated officials always have health and safety – and the economy – in mind. For example, by ensuring the safety of our food, environmental health officials increase consumer confidence to eat at restaurants. By ensuring proper sanitation in our homes, they increase lender confidence when providing mortgages or developer loans. Speakers will discuss the roles environmental health officials play in both protecting the public and energizing the economy, and highlight how those roles work with respect to home lending and the emergent food truck industry.


  • Donald Wilson, Environmental Health Director, Caroline County
  • Willy Dely, Founder, Au Jus Solutions
  • William Castelli, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Maryland Realtors Association

Moderator: The Honorable Sharon Green Middleton, Baltimore City Council Member

Date & Time: Friday, August 18, 2:15 PM – 3:15 PM

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Worcester Considers Economics of New Sports Complex 

A new, wholly county-operated sports complex in Worcester County could generate about $500,000 annually in local revenues, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the county.

Crossroads Consulting Services presented the Worcester County Commissioners with a report detailing the potential costs and revenues associated the contemplated outdoor facility, which would cost $25-$30 million to build. It would operate at a loss of at least $136,000 a year.

The complex under consideration would include eight tournament-quality rectangular turf fields, support buildings and parking, on a property at least 40 acres in size.

The county commissioners are mulling it over, and have taken no further action thus far. If they decide to move forward, the next step is a second study that would outline potential design and construction costs.

Read more in The Dispatch.

PALS Program Ready to Help Counties on Land Use, Transportation, & Economic Development Issues

Announcement Photo for PALS/Montgomery Parks Partnership (Source: PALS Program)

The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program has assisted with several counties and municipalities to solve a variety of land use, transportation, environmental, and economic development challenges. Most recently, PALS concluded a successful partnership with Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis and for the 2017/2018 academic year will be partnering with Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and for Montgomery Parks within the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).

PALS is a low-cost assistance program that leverages University of Maryland (UMD) graduate and undergraduate students to produce “real world” solutions for local governments. The program is administered by the National Center for Smart Growth at UMD, College Park. UMD faculty and students from across campus are tasked with assisting on issues identified by a partnering local government. The program is somewhat scalable, and is able to effectively respond to the needs of large and small local governments. PALS has previously worked with the City of Frederick, College Park, Howard County, and the Southwest Partnership in Baltimore City.

In tackling the challenges posed by Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis, PALS leverage the work of 430 students, faculty from 11 schools across UMD, and 30 dedicated courses. Projects ranged from very stirring video journalism projects covering the impacts of the heroin epidemic in the County to design solutions to help absorb coastal storm surges and address sea level rise in the Annapolis historic waterfront.

PALS is currently designing its 2017/2018 academic year syllabus to link faculty and classes to:

  • 5 projects for the Prince George’s County Department of Environment
  • 5 projects for departments within Montgomery County, and
  • approximately 15 projects for the Montgomery Parks within the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.

The projects already matched with faculty and courses include: (1) how does the park of the future operate and what activities will be provided; revamping and streamlining the public procurement process; (2) standardizing specifications for the use of grey water in the parks; (3) improving recycling rates across all Prince George’s County neighborhoods; (4) an identification of potential sites for an animal shelter in the northern part of Prince George’s County; (5) a measurement of the economic impacts of community celebrations in downtown Silver Spring; and (6) creating a model for the maintenance of storm water management facilities in Montgomery County.

More information about PALS and the past local government projects is available at or by contacting Kim Fisher at 301.405.4481 or

Useful Links

PALS Webpage

Prior Conduit Street PALS Coverage

Frustrated U.S. Senators Press Feds On FBI Headquarters Plan

A month after federal decision-makers scrapped the government’s decade-long plan to close the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s deteriorating headquarters in downtown Washington and replace it with a new building in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs, U.S. Senators from both parties yesterday expressed frustration at officials from the General Services Administration. Senators lamented that millions of dollars had been wasted on the failed effort, and complained that they were blindsided by the decision.

The General Services Administration, the government’s landlord, has been working with the FBI for more than a decade on a plan to trade away the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C. to a developer. In return, the developer would be responsible for the majority of the costs to develop a new headquarters on a modern site.

After spending more than $20 million on its plan, which would have relocated the FBI to Landover, Md., Greenbelt, Md., or Springfield, Va., the General Services Administration said it was canceling the project because Congress had not appropriated enough funds.

According to The Washington Post,

No senator appeared more frustrated by the process than Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the state that would be home to two of the proposed sites. Cardin said the GSA had received seven viable development plans from three developers and pointed out that Congress had granted the agency approval to pick a new headquarters location. Congress has already appropriated more than $800 million toward construction and approved the selling of the Hoover Building.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to move this quicker than saying it’s another four, five or six years to get this done,” Cardin said, “because the FBI can’t wait and the taxpayers demand that we be more efficient than this.”

Officials from Maryland and Virginia have competed for years to land the new headquarters. But the rest of Congress had repeatedly expressed concern with the huge price tag.

The project would have had a significant economic impact on Maryland and, more specifically, Prince George’s County, where two potential sites were being considered. The FBI has about 11,000 employees, which would have made it one of Maryland’s largest employers.

State and Prince George’s County officials had spent years trying to convince the FBI to relocate. The University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore planned to launch a joint national security academy. Gov. Larry Hogan pledged $317 million in infrastructure and traffic improvements to accommodate a new headquarters in Greenbelt and $255 million for a Landover site.

Read the full article for more information.

Arundel Unveils Defense Tech Toolbox for Growing National Security Sector

Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) has launched the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox to provide resources and support to growing tech and national security companies in the county.

As announced in an AAEDC press release:

The toolbox offers a menu of financing, a workforce development grant and business development consultations specifically aimed at assisting technology companies with gross revenue of less than $5 million and fewer than 100 employees. To access the toolbox, businesses must be located in Anne Arundel County or have a signed lease demonstrating their intent to move into the county. AAEDC is investing $1.2 million to launch the program.

“There are many of these businesses that have launched and invested in themselves in the early stage and have had initial success.  The Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox provides meaningful assistance so they can reach the next stage of growth and create more jobs in our county and state,” said AAEDC CEO Julie Mussog. “This initiative signals our full commitment to supporting our tech industry in the national security space and maintaining Anne Arundel County’s reputation as the nation’s cyber capital.”

“The Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox will ensure the defense and cyber industries continue to fuel the economic engine of West County,” added County Executive Steve Schuh.

Read the press release to learn more about the range of tools in the tool box including its signature component the Next Stage Tech Fund.

Markets, He Wrote: Looking for Clues into the Economy’s Direction

Stay up to date on the state of the local and national economy by attending the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Markets, He Wrote: Looking for Clues into the Economy’s Direction

Description:  Wondering what’s in store for the local and global economy? Searching for key indicators? Look no further, economist Anirban Basu is on the case! This presentation provides detailed discussions of global, national, and regional economies using the most up-to-date data available.  Special attention is invested in critical elements of economic life, including the performance of financial, labor, and real estate markets.

Speaker: Anirban Basu, Chairman And Chief Executive Officer – Sage Policy Group, Inc.

Moderator: The Honorable Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Maryland Senate

Date/Time: Friday, August 18, 2017; 11:00 am – Noon

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

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Clean Energy Economy: Generating Jobs, Producing Power

Recent reports indicate Maryland residents and local economies benefit directly from over 147,000 jobs in the energy sector, which continues to see job and wage growth. Can the state expect continued job growth and wage increases? How could forecasted advancements in energy technologies and plans for the Grid of the Future impact employment opportunities? And what investments are we making in training to prepare a skilled workforce to fill those jobs?

Speakers will discuss the potential economic impact and how the projected deployment of renewable energy, energy management, and storage technologies will make the power grid more resilient while creating future jobs at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference Session, “The Clean Energy Economy – Generating Jobs, Producing Power.”


  • Mary Beth Tung, Esq., PhD., Director, Maryland Energy Administration
  • Kelly Schulz, Secretary, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
  • Michael T. Richard, Commissioner, Public Service Commission
  • Irene K. Magruder, Executive Director, Maryland Clean Energy Center
  • David W. Murray, Executive Director, MDV Solar Energy Industries Association

Moderator: The Honorable Dereck Davis, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

MACo’s Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: