2021 Session: Recap and Wrap-Ups

This year the Maryland General Assembly conducted a legislative session unlike any other due to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic. The unique circumstances surrounding the 442nd legislative session, including necessary health and safety measures, posed a challenge for lawmakers and advocates alike. Despite the unusual circumstances, MACo’s advocacy still led to more positive outcomes for its members. Bills that we supported had a greater likelihood of passage, while bills we opposed had a larger tendency to…

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A Quick Guide to the Last Day of Session

As the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly comes to a close, MACo thought it would be helpful to offer something of a Q&A to help those seeking to follow last-minute issues as the legislative session winds down. Here, we will try to answer some of the “frequently asked questions” about the terminology and process on what is typically a hectic day in Annapolis. As always, the MACo office is happy to be of…

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General Assembly Passes MACo Broadband Initiative

The Maryland General Assembly today passed SB 824 / HB 1328 – Economic Development – Broadband Providers – Joint Trenching and Fee (Building Out Broadband Act of 2021), MACo's Legislative Initiative that will help close the digital divide by enhancing incentives and orchestrating opportunities for broadband deployment across the state. Weaknesses in current broadband internet service occur in every jurisdiction, due to both geography and demography – too many Marylanders have been left on the…

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General Assembly Streamlines Emergency Management, Continues Support for NG911

The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 658 Maryland Department of Emergency Management – Establishment and Transfer of Maryland 9-1-1 Board, legislation that will elevate the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to the Governor’s cabinet and transfer the Maryland 9-1-1 Board to MEMA. MACo supported the bill, as it will bolster and enhance collaboration, communication, and coordination between the State and county governments in times of crisis, help Maryland continue its movement toward Next Generation 9-1-1…

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State Announces $300 Million to Boost Broadband Access

The State will dedicate $300 million to help close the digital divide by making major investments in broadband technology across Maryland. The funding is part of a bipartisan budget agreement to allocate more than $3.9 billion in federal funding that the State expects to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act. The funding includes $128 million to improve network infrastructure, $75 million for service fee and device subsidies, and $45 million for municipal broadband grants. MACo…

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State Answers MACo’s Call to Restore Cuts to County Disparity Grants

The State will restore $10.2 million in veto-driven cuts to the Disparity Grant program - which promotes fiscal equity by providing noncategorical state aid to less affluent counties with proven local income tax effort. The funding is part of a bipartisan budget agreement to allocate more than $3.9 billion in federal funding that the State expects to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act. As previously reported on Conduit Street, MACo, along with several counties…

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Senate, Following House, Passes County-Friendly Budget

The Maryland Senate this week passed a county-friendly budget that relieves counties of proposed cost shifts and restores needed funding for community colleges. The nearly $51 billion budget plan leaves enough cash on hand to erase the projected fiscal 2023 budget shortfall. In addition, a general fund surplus is forecast through fiscal 2024. While the Senate made several amendments to the House version of the budget bill and Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2021…

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House & Senate Budget Chairs: It’s Time to Fully Fund Community Colleges

The Maryland Senate last week unanimously passed SB 538 - Community Colleges and Private Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education - Funding, with amendments to fully fund the State's share of the Cade funding formula. State funding of Maryland’s community colleges is based on the Senator John R. Cade funding formula, which was established as law in 1996. The Cade funding aims to provide community colleges with predictable support for operations and to help maintain affordable…

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MACo Broadband Initiative Bill on the Move

In a unanimous vote, the Senate Finance Committee today voted to advance a MACo Legislative Initiative bill that will help to close Maryland’s persistent digital divide. SB 824 - Economic Development – Broadband Providers – Joint Trenching and Fee (Building Out Broadband Act of 2021) is a 2021 MACo Legislative Initiative that would help close the digital divide by enhancing incentives and orchestrating opportunities for broadband deployment across the state. Weaknesses in current broadband internet…

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House Committee Rejects Cost Shifts for Assessments & Payments to Erroneously Convicted Individuals, Restores Funding for Community Colleges

During its operating budget decision meeting on March 15th, the House Appropriations Committee rejected three proposals in HB 589, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2021 (“BRFA”) that would compromise county finances. The full House is expected to take up these budget decisions in the coming days. As introduced, the BRFA proposes to increase counties’ reimbursement of State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) functions, including costs of real property valuation, business personal property…

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