2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Finance and Procurement

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of finance and procurement policy in the 2020 General Assembly. This year, for the first time in since the Civil War, the General Assembly closed session early on March 18, due to precautionary social distancing measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Consequently, many bills did not have hearings or did not move forward due to time constraints to meet the…

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Counties Recognize Need to Improve Emergency Transporter Reimbursement Policies

On March 10, 2020,  MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally testified to the Senate Finance Committee to support  SB 777 (CF HB 779) - Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Emergency Service Transporters and Emergency Medical Services Providers – Reimbursement.  This bill is among the trio of bills that MACo has testified to support that seek to modernize reimbursement for services provided by emergency service transporters to better meet growing demands and needs for services. SB 777 would…

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Senate Committee Rejects SDAT Cost Shift, Restores Funding for Community Colleges and Local Roads

During its operating budget decision meeting on March 5th, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee rejected three proposals in SB 187, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2020 (“BRFA”) that would have compromised county finances. The full Senate is expected to take up these budget decisions early next week. As introduced, the BRFA would have increased counties’ reimbursement of SDAT functions, including costs of real property valuation, business personal property valuation, and information technology.…

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Applying State Procurement Procedures to Counties Increases Costs, Strains Operations

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified on March 3, 2020 to the House Health & Government Operations Committee to oppose HB 991 - Procurement - Transparency and Application to County Contracts. The bill would require that all procurement contracts using state funds in any form be subject to all state procurement regulations. The bill would also impose several new notice requirements for county procurement contracts that involve the use of state funds. From the MACo…

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Counties: Shortening Procurement Payment Timeline Is Counter-Productive

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler and Justin Fiore from the Maryland Municipal League testified before House (3/3/20) and Senate (2/27/20) Committees to oppose SB 933 (CF HB 747) - State and Local Procurement - Payment Practices. This bill mandates a series of timing and procedural requirements onto both state and local procurement units by reducing to 15 days the time allowed to issue payments – many of which are poor fits for local government practices.…

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Fed Cuts Interest Rates Half Point Amid Coronavirus Concerns

The Federal Reserve today announced an emergency rate cut of half a percentage point in response to the growing economic threat from the novel coronavirus. The new benchmark interest rate range is 1.00 percent to 1.25 percent. "The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong. However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity," the Fed said in a statement. "In light of these risks and in support of achieving its maximum employment and price…

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Counties: Procurement Requirements for Corrections Facilities Could Raise Costs

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu submitted written testimony on February 26, 2020 to oppose SB 858 (CF 1524) - Procurement and Correctional Facilities –  Employment Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals. This bill would require procurement contracts for local jail goods and services to include a clause related to the hiring of formerly incarcerated individuals. Additionally, the local jail procurement must give preference to bidders based on the number of employees who are formerly incarcerated. Although…

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Counties: Community Choice A Step Toward Cheaper, Cleaner Energy

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified to the Senate Finance Committee to support SB 315 (CF HB 561) - Electric Industry - Community Choice Energy. MACo staff previously testified before the House Economic Matters Committee to support the House version. This bill grants counties greater flexibility in energy purchasing for their communities to help foster competition, lower prices, or pursue cleaner supply. From the MACo Testimony: The bill provides important benefits and consumer protections –…

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Baltimore County Retains Triple-A Bond Ratings

All three major rating agencies affirmed Baltimore County’s creditworthiness, acknowledging efforts to put Baltimore County on a stronger fiscal footing. Baltimore County has retained its triple-A bond ratings from all three major rating agencies, allowing the County to continue issuing bonds at the lowest possible interest rate—saving millions of dollars for County taxpayers. Moody’s Investor Service, Fitch Ratings, and S&P Global Ratings have each affirmed the County’s triple-A rating, making Baltimore County one of only…

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Counties Oppose Expanding Prevailing Wage Application

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified before the House Economic Matters Committee on February 11, 2020 to oppose HB 582 - Procurement – Prevailing Wage - Applicability.  This bill would extend the application of the State’s prevailing wage law to projects where any amount, even the smallest share, of funds are provided by the State. Prevailing wage rates - which include basic hourly and fringe benefits payments - are set by the Maryland Department of Labor…

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