Will You Throw the First Pitch?

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Step up and share your county’s IT needs at MACo’s Summer Conference.

This year’s MACo Conference offers attendees an opportunity to voice county government information technology interests directly to private sector providers in an informal, informational format.

Share challenges & discover capabilities in this new Tech Wednesday offering.

SWITCH PITCH” IGNITE! — Meet Your Match: Solutions to County IT Challenges

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Gain quick insight into what tech can do for county governments in this fast-paced session. County IT and management professionals will state their needs, and vendors in the Tech Expo Tradeshow will respond with their pitch for solving the top tech issues. Attendees will get a chance to learn a little about a lot of vendors in a short period of time. Listen and learn!

Example County Pitches

  1. How do I empower employees to work from home in a secure and productive manner at minimal cost to the County?
  2. There are so many mobile apps in the market. Other than reading through the reviews, how can one determine the overall quality of a mobile app?  Is there a standard to check an app’s quality? What is it?
  3. What and where have been some of the more successful public/private partnerships providing broadband to unserved rural areas?

SIGN UP HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS SESSION Space is limited – Reply by July 19.

Have a pitch, but you are not attending this session?  Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Tech Wednesday Vendor List

  • AVI-SPL, Inc
  • CDW-G
  • Comcast
  • Commvault
  • Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Data Networks of America
  • ePlus Technology Inc.
  • Esri
  • Freedom Broadband
  • Fujitsu America, Inc.
  • GovDeals, Inc.
  • Juniper Networks
  • Lenovo
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Libraries
  • Maryland Relay
  • Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Musco Sports Lighting
  • NIC Maryland
  • Phillips Office Solutions
  • Presidio
  • Prosys Information Systems
  • Regent Development Consulting, Inc. (RDC)
  • Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply, Inc.
  • SAIC
  • ShoreScan Solutions
  • Splunk
  • Sprint
  • Supply Solutions, LLC
  • Tomi Environmental Solutions

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Unemployment Down, But So Are Total Jobs

Maryland lost 1,600 jobs in May, but even so, the state’s unemployment rate has still fallen to below the national average. Unemployment fell from 4.3 percent in April to 4.2 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in May. Maryland added 43,100 jobs over the last year.

From the Baltimore Business Journal

The overall decrease was driven by a loss of 1,300 private sector jobs and 300 government jobs, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor. …

The construction sector gained 4,800 jobs over the month, the most of any sector. A month after posting the biggest decline with 900 jobs, the trade, transportation and utilities sector rebounded by gaining 1,600 positions. The professional and business services sector gained 400 jobs.

On the flip side, education and health services saw the biggest decrease in May, losing 2,900 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector lost 2,200 jobs and the financial services sector decreased by 1,700 positions. The manufacturing sector lost 1,500 jobs, a month after it gained 200.

Florida saw the greatest gains in jobs this past month with 29,600 jobs. New Jersey saw the greatest loss, with a decrease of 13,100 jobs.

Queen Anne’s BOE Names New Superintendent

The Queen Anne’s County Board of Education has appointed Dr. Andrea Kane as the next Superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.

According to a press release,

With a contract in place, Dr. Kane will assume her duties on July 1, 2017. By law, she will have a four-year contract that will run through June 30, 2021.

Dr. Kane currently is the Associate Superintendent of Academic Services/Chief Academic Officer for Richmond Public Schools (Richmond City, VA). She has held a variety of positions including; computer technologist; classroom teacher; assistant principal; principal; senior manager for elementary school improvement; Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction; and Associate Superintendent for School Performance.

During her professional career as an educator, starting in 1991 with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Dr. Kane has overseen many programs, including; professional development; district-wide efforts to eliminate achievement gaps; teacher and principal evaluation models; and a variety of instructional programs. Starting in 2014, Dr. Kane established structures for systemic improvements through her leadership while achieving balanced academic and fiscal accountability with Richmond Public Schools.

Dr. Kane holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Sweet Briar College, a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction and Administration/Supervision certification from Loyola College in Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Northcentral University.

She will succeed Interim Superintendent Gregory Pilewski, whose contract expires on June 30, 2017.

Dr. Kane will be introduced formally at an upcoming Board Meeting.

Read the full press release for more information.

MACo Hosts County Workers’ Compensation Discussion

This week the Maryland Association of Counties held a meeting of County Administrators, County Human Resources Directors, and County Risk Managers for a conversation regarding workers’ compensation coverage for county employees.

types of insurance only
Counties that self-insure and counties that purchase workers’ compensation insurance participated in this week’s discussion at MACo. (information from the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission)

Topics of discussion included, among others:

  • Costs of workers’ compensation and premiums increases for certain high risk categories of employees
  • Back-to-work policies and other cost reduction strategies
  • The relationship between case management and employee morale

Representatives of large and small counties throughout the state participated in the discussion, many attending the meeting in Annapolis in person. The best practices and experiences shared provided a learning opportunity for all.

For more information contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Baltimore City Council Votes to Cut $26M from Mayor’s Budget

The Baltimore City Council voted 15-0 Monday to make deep cuts to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s budget proposal to free up more money for schools and after-school programs.

Council members said the preliminary vote to cut more than $26 million from Pugh’s $2.8 billion operating budget was designed to pressure the mayor to compromise. The cuts included the mayor’s entire budget office and several of her signature initiatives.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

A final vote on the budget is scheduled for next week. By law, the City Council has the power to cut from the mayor’s budget. But only Pugh can redirect funds to new purposes.

“I continue to be committed to getting a deal done with the administration,” said City Councilman Eric T. Costello, chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee. “The council is all on the same page about funding our priorities, which are focused on youth programming. These priorities are important to us and we’re not backing down.”

Pugh expressed confidence she could reach an agreement with the council in the next week.

“I’m sure we will all come together in the end,” Pugh said. “In the heat of the moment, people say things they mean or may not mean. … I know we’re very close on many of the issues. It really is how we come together.

“It’s not my budget; it’s not the council’s budget; it’s the budget for the city.”

Council members have pressed the Pugh administration to use a $13 million surplus from the current fiscal year to provide $10 million more for public schools and about $3 million more for after-school programs next year. They also want more funding for the anti-violence program Safe Streets, which lost a federal grant needed to operate.

After-school programs are facing cuts in next year’s budget and school officials have already laid off more than 100 employees to help close a budget shortfall.

Pugh said a sticking point is making sure the city has enough money to fund a pledge of $90 million in increased funding for the school system over the next three years. That pledge was part of a deal with state officials, who agreed to kick in a matching amount to help close a projected multimillion dollar budget gap over the next three years.

“Our commitment to education is not just one year,” she said. “Our commitment is over a three-year period. We have to make sure we have monies to cover a three-year period.”

The council voted to strip $2 million from Pugh’s budget bill for the Bureau of the Budget and Management Research and cut $770,000 from an innovation fund. The committee also voted to cut some of Pugh’s signature initiatives, including $1 million for mobile employment vans, $600,000 for new energy-efficient trash cans, $2 million from police administration, $2.7 million for debt on municipal trash cans, $6 million for paying down other debts and $1.4 million in miscellaneous expenses.

The council also voted to cut $600,000 for a new waste disposal site, $3.8 million for new street lights and $5.1 million for street cleaning.

Pugh’s budget director Andrew Kleine said in an email that the surplus money is just a projection. If it materializes, he said, he plans to use it to shore up the budget against a number of long-term issues, including potential retroactive pension payments if the city loses a lawsuit filed by the police union, the cost of taking care of the city’s closed schools, and funding the mayor’s commitment to increasing school funding over the next three years.

A final council vote on the budget is scheduled for June 12.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he believed Pugh would continue to negotiate with council members.

“I’m very confident that we’re going to get a deal,” he said.

Read the full article for more information.

Baltimore City Schools Lay Off 115 on Thursday

Shelly Higgins was leading the seniors at Excel Academy through graduation rehearsals Thursday when she was summoned by the principal. Higgins figured there was a question about the graduation plans.

Instead, she learned she was being laid off.

“I looked at them like, ‘You got to be kidding me,'” said Higgins, a health teacher and the senior class advisor at the West Baltimore school. “I looked over at the principal. She had a tissue in her hand. You could tell that she was crying.”

As reported in The Baltimore Sun,

Similar scenes played out schools across the city as district administrators fanned out to tell librarians, guidance counselors, assistant principals and support staff that they would lose their jobs. Administrators said they laid off 115 people in all, including the first classroom teachers to lose their jobs in a decade.

The layoffs included 32 people who work in the district headquarters and 83 people in the schools. Among them were 13 classroom teachers, 21 librarians or school counselors, and 24 assistant principals, administrators said.

Leaders of the Baltimore Teachers Union were not happy that the district deployed teams to meet individually with affected employees and give them the bad news. The union reps said these meetings would disturb teachers and disrupt classes.

“The approach the District is taking of going into the schools and interrupting a teacher’s day to tell them that they have been laid off is unprecedented,” said Marietta English, the union president, in a statement. “This is a humiliating and truly shocking act that comes on the heels of a stressful semester.”

The union filed a grievance in April complaining that layoff decisions were based partly on employees’ performance evaluations and teaching certifications. The union alleges this is is a violation of the employee contract.

Alison Perkins-Cohen, chief of staff for schools CEO Sonja Santelises, said administrators consider teacher evaluations “one of the critical factors.” She said city school officials disagree with union leaders on whether evaluations should be considered.

Santelises warned months ago that 1,000 people could be laid off to help fill a $130 million shortfall in the $1.31 billion budget for next school year. After the shortfall was announced in December, teachers, parents and students held rallies outside City Hall in Baltimore and the State House in Annapolis to get more money. State and city officials pledged nearly $60 million to help narrow the gap, and Santelises scaled back the layoffs to about 300 in recent weeks.

On Thursday, officials announced that number was further reduced to 115 people. It’s the third straight year of layoffs in the school district.

The school system employs 11,000 people total, about 6,000 of them teachers. Each year administrators recruit hundreds of new teachers for subjects in which there are staffing shortages. The hiring will continue, officials said, and as many as 200 teachers could be recruited, including those laid off who qualify.

Read the full article for more information.

Governor Hogan Vetoes Sick Leave Bill

Governor Hogan today announced he will veto HB 1 / SB 230, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that would have required employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

Hogan had proposed a rival bill that would require paid sick and safe leave for businesses with 50 or more employees and provide tax incentives to smaller businesses that provide leave. Democrats rejected that approach, noting that large businesses typically already provide employees with paid sick leave.

The bill was passed by veto-proof margins in both the Senate and House of Delegates. But unless the vetoed bill is taken up in a special session of the legislature, sick and safe leave advocates will have to wait until the Assembly reconvenes in January for a potential veto override vote.

Governor Hogan announced that his administration will submit a “common sense paid sick leave proposal” as emergency legislation on the first day of the next session. He also said he will issue three executive orders. The first will create a study to examine all aspects of sick leave in Maryland, the second will extend paid sick leave to all contractual employees of the executive branch of state government, and the third will give employers that offer paid sick leave a preference in seeking state government contracts.

The legislation would have also required county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Useful Links

MACo Testimony on HB 1

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Right-sized Sick Leave, a Goldilocks Debate

Hogan Plans to Sign More Than 200 Bills Today. Paid Sick Leave is Not Among Them

Governor Larry Hogan will sign 209 bills today in what is believed to be his eighth and final bill signing of the 2017 legislative session.

The list includes a package of measures to address the state’s growing heroin epidemic. But missing from the hundreds of bills are several high-profile measures that are awaiting action from Hogan, including a top priority of Democratic legislative leaders that requires employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to their workers.

The Washington Post reports,

Hogan also has yet to take action on several other measures, including one that gives the attorney general the power to take legal action against drug companies that dramatically increase the price of off-patent or generic drugs; a bill that allows pharmacists to dispense contraceptives and a piece of legislation that prohibits public and private colleges and universities from including questions about criminal history on their applications.

The governor has 30 days to take action on bills presented to his office. The clock runs out on the paid sick leave bill on Saturday, May 27.

“Too many families know all too well that even if you are lucky enough to have affordable health care if you can not afford to take a day off to see a doctor,” Liz Richards, the director of the Working Matters Coalition, said in a statement. “Governor Hogan has the power to make this smart policy change for a stronger, healthier Maryland by signing” the bill.

Hogan’s office would not comment on whether he plans to veto the paid sick leave bill or if he plans to let the bill become law without his signature.

If Hogan refuses to sign the bill, it won’t be the first time he has allowed a socially progressive piece of legislation to become law without his signature.

Earlier this year, the governor allowed a bill to become law without his signature that commits state funds to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics for their services if Congress defunds the organization. Hogan also let a measure move forward without his signature that gives additional state money to the attorney general’s office to help it sue the Trump administration over health care, environment and immigration.

The bill would also require county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Right-sized Sick Leave, a Goldilocks Debate

City Council Proposes Bill to Retain Service Workers Amid Contract Changes

If passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, Baltimore City could join the ranks of Montgomery County and other cities across the nation that would require certain incoming contractors to retain existing service workers for a set period of time when contracts are transitioning to new hands.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The bill requires an incoming contractor to retain the existing workforce for at least a 90-day transition period. Backers say it would protect thousands of city workers from losing jobs on short notice or being forced to reapply for their own positions.

Similar laws have been enacted in Montgomery County, California and at least 12 cities, including Philadelphia and New York and Washington.

Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, the bill’s sponsor, said the city’s service workers, including many who live in her East Baltimore district, shouldn’t have to worry about losing a job just because of a change in management. Those who are not retained after the 90-day period at least would have time to look for a new job, she said.

“We’re just saying before you come in and make changes, find out how it works,” said Sneed, who said she has strong support on the council for the bill. “We are pro-business. We ultimately want to keep people employed so these folks won’t be put out with a minute’s notice.”

The bill, which is up for a hearing before the council’s labor committee on Thursday, covers workers in security, janitorial, building maintenance and food service jobs at universities, convention centers, stadiums, residential and commercial buildings, industrial facilities, distribution centers and the casino. During the three-month transition period, workers can be fired only for cause, not just to be replaced.

A spokesman for Mayor Catherine Pugh said Friday that the mayor is withholding judgment on the proposal until after the council acts on the bill.

Read the The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

Calvert County Commissioners Approve Public Schools Funding Plan

The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday approved a four-year public schools funding formula that will provide education appropriations of nearly $121 million in fiscal year (FY) 2018.

According to a press release,

The funding formula will be used to determine the amount of annual county appropriations to Calvert County Public Schools from FY 2018 through FY 2021. The measure must also be approved by the Calvert County Board of Education at its May 11 meeting before taking effect.

Three factors are included in the education funding formula. Starting with the prior year’s appropriations, funding will be based on 1) student enrollment increases; 2) changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI); and 3) an additional adjustment factor of 1 percent. A decline in student enrollment will not decrease funding and the CPI factor is capped at 3.5 percent.

The funding agreement has a new school adjustment to provide for up to $1 million in additional funds to offset operating costs for new schools. It also specifies that any unassigned public schools fund balance, or savings, in excess of $5 million will be contributed to the school system’s Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) trust fund. OPEB are benefits, other than pensions – such as health insurance – that employees receive as part of retirement benefits.

“We believe this is a generous funding formula that provides stability and predictability for county education appropriations,” said BOCC President Tom Hejl. “It will help ensure our school system remains among the top systems in Maryland.”

Additional one-time allocations for the next two fiscal years are included in the funding agreement. FY 2018 funding will include a $500,000 allocation and FY 2019 will include a $2 million allocation, each of which will be offset by reducing contributions for OPEB by the same amounts.

Public schools funding formula agreements have been a part of the county budget process since FY 2006. The last such agreement expired at the end of the 2012 fiscal year. The BOCC approved the FY 2018-2021education funding formula as part of the FY 2018 county budget process. The Commissioners’ Budget will be presented during a public hearing May 23 at 7 p.m. at Calvert Pines Senior Center in Prince Frederick.

Read the full press release for more information.