State Revs Up Corrections Recruitment Efforts

Acknowledging a years-long problem with understaffing at state correctional facilities, the State Division of Corrections plans to step up its recruitment efforts.

The Division continues to hold job fairs and testing all around the state, and most recently announced that it plans to hire a private recruiting firm to fill vacancies.

Herald-Mail highlights frustration from unions, correctional officers, and state elected officials relating to the staffing shortage:

“I don’t understand why we’re having this conversation for three years in a row,” Patrick Moran, president of Council 3 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told Herald-Mail Media on Thursday. …

“What I’m getting is there’s frustration from the correctional officers with the administration and the union,” Del. Mike McKay, R-Washington/Allegany, said. “They feel their concerns are not getting to where they need to go.

“The staffing shortage is unacceptable,” he added.

Last session, the General Assembly included a number of provisions in the budget related to Corrections’ understaffing.

Feds Report More Jobs, Slight Increase in Unemployment Across US

The Department of Labor Statistics reports 213,000 jobs gained, and 4% unemployment during the month of June.

William J. Wiatrowski
Acting Commissioner
Bureau of Labor Statistics

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 213,000 in June, and the
unemployment rate increased to 4.0 percent. Job gains occurred
in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health
care, while retail trade lost jobs.

Incorporating revisions for April and May, which increased
nonfarm payroll employment by 37,000, monthly job gains have
averaged 211,000 over the past 3 months.

For more information, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner’s Statement and Economy adds 213K jobs in June, unemployment ticks up to 4 percent from The Hill.

Conduit Street Podcast: Beating the Heat, Janus v. AFSCME, & Primary Races We’re Still Watching

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss how counties are helping their residents beat the heat, explore the potential impacts of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Janus v. ASFCME, and review some of the county primary races that remain too close to call.

Listen here:

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.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Some County Primary Races Still Too Close to Call

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Supreme Court Ruling May Affect Maryland Unions

White House Releases Government Reform Proposal

On Thursday, the White House released a 132-page report detailing specific opportunities for reform of the Federal government. The comprehensive report lists 32 recommendations for organizational realignments, reassignments, consolidations, privatization of certain government services, disposition of government-owned assets, technology upgrades, customer service improvements, process reform, and more.

The report contends to address the federal government’s inefficiencies. It does not make recommendations for reducing the federal workforce – another goal put forth by the Administration.

The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic and inefficient.

– Mick Mulvaney, Director, White House Office of Management and Budget

silhouettes-81830_1920The report, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations,”  comes out as most of the country focuses on immigration policy and reform. In fact, it appears few news outlets have picked up the report release at all.

But, Route Fifty did – with focus given to potential affects on local governments

One noteworthy change would shift the $3 billion community development block grant program, or CDBG, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to a new Bureau of Economic Growth under the Department of Commerce. …

The reorganization plan would also move the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, out of the Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

Other noteworthy recommendations include:

  • Merging the Departments of Education and Labor into one Department of Education and the Workforce
  • Moving the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works out of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • Reorganizing the Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection
    Service and the food safety functions of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into a single agency within USDA
  • Merging the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) National Marine Fisheries Service with DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service, centralizing dam permit review
  • Selling specific transmission assets owned by the Department of Energy (DOE), and generally, focus on disposing unneeded or undesired federal real estate
  • Either wholly restructure the postal system or privatize it altogether
  • Reorganize the Department of Transportation
  • Limit federal support for home purchasing:

….ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reducing their role in the housing market, and providing an explicit, limited Federal backstop that is on-budget and apart from the Federal support for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

Read the full report here.


Conduit Street Podcast: SCOTUS Sounds Off, Early Voting Boom, Riveting Races, & More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the surge in early voting numbers in this year’s primary election, explore the role of county governments in state and local elections, examine the impacts of three major Supreme Court decisions, review MACo’s Legislative Initiatives process, and look ahead to the 2018 MACo Summer Conference.

*Note: We’ll be back next week with a special edition of the Conduit Street Podcast to breakdown the results of the primary election.

Listen here:

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.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: SCOTUS Opens Door To State Taxation of Internet, “Remote” Sales

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: SCOTUS Sides With Lower Court In Maryland “Gerrymandering” Case, But Questions Remain

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Early Voting Numbers Up 53% from 2014

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Soliciting 2019 Legislative Initiative Proposals

Hogan Vetoes Three Education Bills

Governor Larry Hogan today vetoed three education bills passed during the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly. SB 739 would have altered the makeup of the Maryland State Board of Education, HB 643/SB 678 sought to change the categories of employees in the state Department of Education and in local school systems – making more employees eligible to join unions, and HB 808 would have made it more difficult to terminate political appointees at the Maryland State Department of Education.

Hogan’s vetos are final because it is an election year, and the General Assembly may not override gubernatorial vetos during the first year of a new legislative term. MACo did not take a position on any of these bills.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office:

Governor Hogan vetoed Senate Bill 739 – State Board of Education – Membership – Teachers and Parent. Senate Bill 739 would have changed the process Maryland uses to select members to the State Board of Education, a move that would have diluted the independence of the State Board of Education by giving teacher unions control over two additional seats on the Board, and dictating that three seats be chosen by just two stakeholder groups, a move that would risk turning this critical policy-making body into a collection of special interest group representatives.

Governor Hogan also vetoed House Bill 643/Senate Bill 678 – State Department of Education – Employment Categories and Practices. This legislation would weaken the Maryland State Department of Education’s capacity to achieve the state’s educational goals – at a time when strengthening the performance of Maryland’s schools and students is more important than ever – by hindering the Department’s ability to compete in an already competitive job market and acquire talented employees.

Finally, Governor Hogan vetoed House Bill 808 – Collective Bargaining – Education – Supervisory Personnel. This legislation would remove local authority to determine who is classified as a “supervisory employee” and give authority over local school system organizational charts to the Public School Labor Relations Board. This new structure would prohibit school leadership from ensuring an efficient operation best suited for the needs of their local school system.

“These pieces of flawed legislation join the unfortunate litany of attempts by the General Assembly over the past four sessions to pass legislation to enhance the power of partisan special interests, while eliminating transparency and usurping accountability,” said Governor Hogan. “At a time when unethical behavior and mismanagement continue to hold our school systems back from serving school children, this sequence of bills that I am vetoing today seek to move Maryland in exactly the wrong direction. Instead, we need to be working together to restore accountability for our students, teachers, and families.”

Read the governor’s veto letter here.

Skills to Pay the Bills: Chamber Partners With Schools to Address Workforce Shortage

As part of a joint effort with Garrett County Schools, the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce today announced the creation of a Work Ethic Diploma program. The purpose of the program is to ensure that the State is graduating skilled workers ready to take on the jobs offered by employers and industry.

According to Cumberland Times-News:

By meeting established criteria, local students will earn a work ethic diploma upon graduating that will guarantee them job interviews and better wages.

“The concept for a regional Garrett County work ethic initiative was brought to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce by employers that felt students were not completing high school with the soft skills needed to be successful employees,” said Nicole Christian, chamber president and CEO. “With the input of area educators, business leaders and post-secondary representatives, standards were developed to measure work ethic in students.

To qualify for the diploma, students must earn a minimum of points in discipline standard, attendance standard, absence standard, work experience, community service/internship project standard, overall GPA standard, team work standard, drug free (optional) and exit interview (seniors only).

By meeting established criteria, local students will earn a Work Ethic Diploma upon graduating which will guarantee them job interviews and better wages.

Read the full article for more information.

Click here to learn more about the Work Ethic Diploma program.

County Fellowship Aims to Develop “Pipeline of Talent”

The Allegany County Commissioners are set to provide on-the-job training to teach local college students about careers in local government. The 12-week fellowship program, which begins in May, is available to students at Frostburg State University and Allegany College of Maryland.

According to Cumberland Times-News,

“We’ve taken on county interns in the past, but not in this coordinated effort,” said Brandon Butler, the county administrator who will direct the program.  “I think this is a great opportunity,” Commissioner Bill Valentine said.

“This community has the rap of ‘My kid has to go somewhere else to get a good opportunity,’ and that is something I’m interested in busting,” he said.

“I’m looking to raise up young people who care about their communities, who have a passion to make a difference and have an an opportunity for them right here in Allegany County,” Butler said.

More than a unique opportunity for area students, the fellowship creates a “pipeline of talent,” as a way for local officials to spot potential government employees, Butler said.

To apply, college students must be either a junior or senior (at least 30 credits for ACM students) and have at least a 2.7 cumulative GPA.

Read the full article for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast: Post-Crossover Roundup, School Construction, School Safety, and More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson provide listeners with a roundup of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives, as well as a host of other bills MACo has weighed in on this year, discuss the latest on school construction, and examine the debate on school safety. 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:

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

State Announces New Apprenticeship Program With CVS Health, Expands Modern Apprenticeship Opportunities

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation today announced a new registered apprenticeship program with CVS Health, and expanded opportunities for Maryland workers in other non-traditional apprenticeship occupations and industries. At the March meeting of the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council (MATC), six new sponsors became part of the state’s apprenticeship program, three reactivated their programs, and three expanded their existing programs into new occupations.

According to a press release:

“Apprenticeship is a smart workforce development program that works for any industry,” said Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “While the skilled trades have been the predominant force in apprenticeship – and continue to be an effective career development tool in those fields – we are seeing a solid shift into non-traditional trades, such as healthcare and information technology. Today’s announcement exemplifies that shift, with new occupations in emerging fields.”

Having become the nation’s first employer to start a U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program for pharmacy technicians in 2005, CVS Health is also the first to sponsor a program in Maryland for pharmacy technician and pharmacy managers. Apprentices will receive structured training through the CVS Health Regional Learning Centers in the District of Columbia and District Heights, Maryland, to maintain the high levels of skills needed in the pharmacy field, and will be eligible to apply for a position at one of more than 220 locations in the state.

In addition to CVS Health, Cooper Electrical Services, ConnectWork, LLC, Maryland Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, Npower, and the Education Foundation for Baltimore County Public Schools became new apprenticeship sponsors, while Allstate Floors, W.L. Gore and Associates, Inc., and Worthington Armstrong Venture reactivated their programs, bringing the total of Maryland’s active apprenticeship sponsors to 136.

1199 SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund, the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH), and the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MD MEP) expanded their existing programs. These expansions included new occupations, such as BACH’s surgical technologist and MD MEP’s additive manufacturing technician 3-D printing. MEP’s additive manufacturing occupation is not just a first for Maryland, but is, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the first in the nation.

Apprenticeships are full-time jobs that include on-the-job training and classroom instruction, allowing apprentices to earn while they learn. Anyone 18 or older can be a registered apprentice, while high school students can pursue youth apprenticeships. Businesses and job seekers interested in apprenticeships are invited to contact or call 410-767-2246.

Read the full press release for more information.