Finance Committee Holds Briefing On Controversial Collective Bargaining Bill

A panel of representing several Maryland community colleges voiced their objections over proposed legislation that would mandate a one-size-fits-all form of collective bargaining during a briefing held by the Senate Finance Committee. The briefing focused on failed legislation (SB 652/HB 871) from the 2017 General Assembly Session.

At the briefing, MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally explained that the move to collective bargaining outlined in this bill could create potentially unsustainable costs for counties, who provide substantial funding for community colleges throughout Maryland – especially since the legislation does not envision any added State support. Bernie Sadusky, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) told the Committee that the State has not been living up to its funding obligations, and that the added costs of collective bargaining would fall on counties and/or students, in the form of higher tuition rates.

State Senator Stephen Hershey expressed frustration with the proposal, telling fellow Committee Members that his constituent counties would be unable to afford the added costs resulting from mandated collective bargaining. Senator Hershey also addressed the lack of State funding for community colleges, he asked:

How can we pass a bill when we have no idea how to pay for it?

MACo opposed the 2017 legislation.

Representatives from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Maryland/DC American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), and Communication Workers of America (CWA) testified in support of the legislation.

Useful Links

HB 871/SB 652 of 2017

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #3 – Education Funding In Maryland

The first major review of education funding in more than ten years is nearing completion. The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission.

Many of the Thornton Commission’s recommendations were incorporated into the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, a plan intended to increase statewide education funding by $1.1 billion over five years.

One element of the Bridge to Excellence Act was a second review of the State’s education funding. The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is that second review.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss education funding in Maryland.

MACo has made the podcast is available through iTunes by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Kirwan Commission Stays True To Form

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its most recent meeting today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures.

It was widely anticipated that today’s meeting would focus on education funding, especially because some Commissioners recently expressed concerns over how little time has been spent analyzing proposed funding changes. Instead, staying true to form, the Commission spent the day listening to testimony on broad policy initiatives.

Robert Slavin, Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University, testified on the importance of intensive, individual programs, such as one-on-one tutoring, for students struggling to achieve proficiency standards. While the Commission seemed to agree on a philosophical level, some Commissioners said the approach was cost prohibitive.

Career and technical education (CTE) continued to be a hot topic of discussion. Commissioners agreed that Maryland’s CTE standard is less rigorous than the standard in top performing systems.

In addition to providing more rigorous CTE programs, the Commission recommends that Maryland implement a communication plan to dispel the notion that CTE programs are only meant for students who do not excel in traditional academic subjects. This communication plan will also inform students and parents that enrolling in a CTE program in no way precludes the ability to attend college.

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, representing MACo on the Commission, praised efforts to expand CTE programs in Maryland. According to Councilmember Rice:

CTE programs have been very successful in counties, and with a small state investment, these programs can continue to grow. Expanding CTE should rise to the top of our recommendations. A lot of the the recommendations we’re talking about are very expensive, this one isn’t. It’s a no brainer.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, representing the Maryland House of Delegates on the Commission, expressed frustration with the lack of input from the business community on how to best expand CTE programs, she stated:

The business community worked side by side with the Thornton Commission, but now no one is here on behalf of the business community. We need a renewed dialouge with the business community.

The Commission also heard panel testimony from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM), and the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), among others.

MABE’s presentation included an emphasis on the importance of local boards of education having authority over local education spending. MSEA outlined their top three priorities:

  1. Increased salaries for teachers.
  2. Increased staffing for schools.
  3. Addressing poverty

The Commission’s next meeting will focus on the analysis from Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) and the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). Dr. Kirwan has asked representatives from APA and NCEE to attend the meeting to discuss the methodology for costing out their proposed recommendations.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission. MACo is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation.

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 25, 2017; 9:30 am-5:00 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Click here to view today’s meeting materials.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.

Committee Briefed on Opioid Data, Innovative Initiatives, and Ongoing Progress

The Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders held a meeting in front of a standing room audience in Annapolis Tuesday.

The robust agenda included briefings by state representatives from the Department of Health, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC), as well as presentations regarding safe consumption spaces; Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT); and hospital discharge policies.

Secretary Schrader provided updates from the Department of Health including the progress made on the behavioral health hotline. He discussed plans to work more closely and coordinate with local jurisdictions that operate their own hotlines and for improving connections with providers on the back end. Committee members suggested more work on spreading awareness of the hotlines existence, making the number catchier or easier to remember, and getting feedback from families and other users of the hotline.

Deputy Director of the OOCC, Birch Barron, briefed the committee on establishment of local Opioid Intervention Teams (OIT) in all counties in the state. Collectively they have held 145 coordinating meetings since March 1. He also discussed the community centered approach they are taking with managing the grants that have been provided to these local teams to ensure flexibility that the specific local needs are being met.

Glenn Fueston, Executive Director of GOCCP focused his presentation on his offices collection and use of data. In particular he noted how the office has been reorganized to focus on outcome based performance measures to ensure their actions are having a positive impact. Fueston also reported  a 700% increase in substance use grant funding from his office; increased grant support for programs consistent with the Justice Reinvestment Act; and the success of their heroin coordinator program which is helping to strengthen connections between law enforcement and public health providers.

Following the briefings from the administration representatives, a panel of stakeholders presented on safe consumption spaces. These are places in which individuals can use previously purchased drugs in a clinically monitored environment. While none of these spaces currently exist in Maryland (or in the nation) the panel noted that over 100 such spaces exist worldwide. They discussed the models of safe consumption spaces and data related to their harm reduction aspects — reducing new cases of addiction, removing stigma, enhanced data collection, and expanded access to treatment.

The next presentation, by a representative from the Mosiac Group, focused on the implementation of SBIRT in Maryland. So far the initiative has been implemented in 12 counties and at 96 sites across the state. While great progress has been made they are working on expanding the initiative in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. The meeting concluded with the presentation from the Maryland Hospital Association on the development of a discharge policy as required under the HOPE Act that passed in the 2017 session. The Association has been partnering with the Department of Health on a webinar series to educate hospital staff on new protocols for discharging individuals who have been treated for an overdose or identified as having a substance use disorder.

The 10 member Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders is charged with overseeing State and local programs to treat and reduce behavioral health and opioid use disorders, as well as the prescription drug monitoring program, and monitoring the work of the Governor’s Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council.

 

Kirwan Commission Charts Path Forward

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its most recent meeting today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission heard testimony on Maryland’s ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Consolidated State Plan, discussed how Maryland’s education system compares to top performing systems, and discussed the Commission’s plan moving forward.

ESSA, a federal law passed in December 2015 that governs K-12 public education policy, was the first topic of discussion. According to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), the purpose of ESSA “is to provide all students the opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.”

Mary Gable and Dana Shaw, both from MSDE,  discussed recent adjustments to Maryland’s draft ESSA plan, including a summative rating system, the definition of chronic absenteeism, an expansion of “credit for completion of a well-rounded curriculum” at the high school level, the selection of indicators to identify Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) schools, the addition of talented students as a student group, and a commitment to the addition of early childhood growth to the accountability system.

Several Commissioners expressed concerns with the draft plan. MSDE assured the Commission that it has and will continue to engage stakeholders in the ESSA Consolidated State Plan development and implementation.

The Commission heard testimony from Marc Tucker, President and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Mr. Tucker presented a gap analysis of Maryland’s public education system and top performing systems throughout the world. According to Mr. Tucker, “unlike most top performers, neither Maryland nor other states have comprehensive long-range plans for their education systems, with measurable goals, clear strategies for achieving them laid out in explicit sequential steps, and milestones and measures for gauging progress.”

Mr. Tucker also pointed out that “accountability in the United States falls mostly on the teachers and principals in the schools, whereas in the top performers it falls at least as much on the students and the people who run the system.” Mr. Tucker recommends that the Commission consider whether Maryland should establish a government body with senior executive responsibility for education to coordinate with other state agencies, including those related to economic development.

Other recommendations from Mr. Tucker include simplifying the education accountability system in Maryland, redesigning the accountability system to provide strong incentives for teachers and school administrators who improve their performance, putting less emphasis on evaluation of school personnel for the purpose of removing poor performers, putting more emphasis on implementing systems in which strong school faculty hold weak school faculty accountable for their performance, and using inspection teams instead of algorithms to determine which schools are underperforming and deciding what should be done to improve their performance.

Mr. Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) joined the Commission from Paris via Skype to give a presentation on the PISA (Programme for International Student Development) Survey. The PISA Survey is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.

During his analysis of the most recent survey, Mr. Schleicher concluded that “money matters much less than you think. Incentive structures, accountability, and high expectations matter much more.” Additionally, Mr. Schleicher stressed the importance of resources being aligned with needs, and emphasized that the quality of educators is more important than the number of hours students spend in the classroom.

Prior to adjournment, Chairman Kirwan sought input from Commission members and staff on how to best move forward and complete their work by the end of December. Several Commissioners expressed concerns over whether the current schedule provides enough time to discuss the numerous funding and policy recommendations. Chairman Kirwan is working with Commission staff to iron out a schedule that will provide enough time for a comprehensive review of all testimony and proposals.

The Commission’s next meeting will focus on reviewing current funding formulas, discussing policy and fiscal recommendations, and developing funding strategies for any potential fiscal or policy recommendations.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission. MACo is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation.

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 14, 2017; 9:30 am-5:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Click here to view today’s meeting materials.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.

Md. Atty. General’s Office: County-By-County Public Campaign Financing Is Legal

The Maryland attorney general’s office announced that it would be legal for the state to allow public financing for candidates on a county-by-county basis. The opinion is likely to spur the drafting of such a bill in 2018.

According to The Washington Post,

Del. Marc A. Korman (D-Montgomery) contacted the attorney general’s office in May for guidance on whether a localized approach to public financing — as opposed to a statewide option — would hit constitutional roadblocks. A county-by-county approach was so novel that it left certain questions, such as how to handle legislative districts that don’t match up with county lines, unanswered.

Korman called the office’s opinion “good news” and said he will move forward with drafting a bill, which he and other advocates say would increase opportunities for candidates to run for office without relying on big individual or corporate donors.

Thirteen states — including Maryland — and a handful of localities have some form of public financing for elections. In 2014, the Montgomery County Council authorized partial public financing for county executive and council candidates. In June, Howard County approved its own system, which is similar to Montgomery’s and will take effect for the 2022 election cycle.

Proponents of public financing for candidates say such programs boost citizen engagement in elections by amplifying the power of small donors and encourage more candidates to run in local races.

Opponents of public financing argue that the government has no business in funding individual campaigns. There are also concerns that a localized option would create a disadvantage for candidates in less wealthy counties, which may be reluctant to use tax revenue to fund political campaigns.

Read the full article for more information.

Register Today for the 2017 WiLL/WAND National Women’s Leadership Conference

From October 1-3, join the 2017 WiLL/WAND National Women’s Leadership Conference: “Women at the Tables of Power,” bringing women legislators and community leaders together from across America for three informative days of briefings with Congresswomen and policy experts, training with strategic communications experts, intimate networking dinners, and a Congressional Lobby Day and luncheon.

The Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) is a national non-partisan network of women state legislators who work together to influence federal policy and budget priorities. Since 1993, WiLL has hosted biennial policy conferences in Washington, DC which bring together state and federal legislators, executive branch members, policy experts, and community leaders.

Registration costs are waived for Maryland Legislators, but you must register by Thursday, August 31st.

Useful Links

Click here to register

Click here to visit the WiLL website

Del. McIntosh: Time To Talk The “T-Word”

House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh penned a letter to the editor in The Baltimore Sun last week responding to Maryland Aviation Administrator Ricky Smith’s comment that getting Baltimoreans to the BWI Airport to work has been “a major challenge.” She agrees with him.

In these complex and fraught times, it is as simple as this: Our Baltimore citizens do not have the transportation to get to the jobs which are available, the jobs which are their vital links to financial, physical and emotional health.

My fellow Baltimore citizens, we have to talk about the “t-word.” We have to talk about transportation in Baltimore because it if a major factor in blocking Baltimore’s way out of poverty and crime and into health and safety. …

We have to stop the transportation bleeding and compensate for the lost opportunities wrought by the lack of investment in our transportation infrastructure. We have to think outside the box. I will call upon city leaders, state legislative leaders and the MTA to renew efforts to get our people to the major employment centers.

Read her comments here.

#MACoCon Panelists Discuss “Cannabusiness” in Maryland

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “The Green Rush? Cannabusiness in Maryland Counties” attendees learned about the growing “cannabusiness” industry, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and what counties need to know moving forward.’

Shad Ewart discusses how Maryland’s medical cannabis industry will create a host of ancillary jobs

Being a new – and unique – enterprise, many entrepreneurs struggle with how to best leverage this emerging industry…and counties struggle with how to fit these “cannabis-adjacent” businesses into their communities, economies, and local policies.

Shad Ewart, Professor, Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Marijuana Legalization, Anne Arundel Community College, began the session by discussing Maryland’s medical cannabis program. Mr. Ewart talked about how the medical cannabis industry continues to advance and legitimize, and how mainstream professionals are increasingly interested in economizing on this opportunity. As part of his presentation, Mr. Ewart described the ancillary businesses within the medical cannabis industry. According to Mr. Ewart,  “the people who profited from the Gold Rush were not the ones mining for gold, but the people who sold them the picks and shovels.”

According to Darren H. Weiss, Esq., Principal, Bethesda Office, Offit Kurman, because the medical cannabis industry is a new – and unique – enterprise, many entrepreneurs struggle with how to best leverage this emerging industry… and counties struggle with how to fit these “cannabis-adjacent” businesses into their communities, economies, and local policies. Mr. Weiss discussed some of the legal challenges associated with medical cannabis in Maryland, explained how growers and dispensaries become licensed to operate in Maryland, and how they will operate in local communities.

Gail Rand, CFO, Patient Advocate, ForwardGro, closed the session by discussing her advocacy efforts for medical cannabis in Maryland. ForwardGro is licensed to grow medical cannabis and has begun operations in Anne Arundel County. Mrs. Rand offered insight into the medical cannabis licensing process from an applicant’s point of view.

The session was moderated by Senator Brian Feldman and was held on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Unpaid State Officials Sue Treasurer, State

Dennis Schrader and Wendi Peters, Governor Larry Hogan’s secretaries for Health and Planning, respectively, have filed suit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and the State of Maryland seeking a declaratory judgment on their right to receive their paychecks, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

Governor Larry Hogan withdrew his appointees’ nominations during the legislative session, preventing the State Senate from voting on their confirmations. The General Assembly passed budget language that prohibits the use of State budget funds to pay the salaries of certain secretaries and other high-ranking officials who did not receive Senate confirmation during the 2017 session. In response to the budget language, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp announced last month that should would not pay the secretaries at the start of fiscal 2018 year on July 1.

The Daily Record  quotes Governor Hogan:

The attorney general gave both the legislature and our office the opinion that they’re legally serving in their positions so it would be illegal for us not to pay them.

Sears further reports:

The attorney general, in two different advisories, said Hogan could legally reappoint secretaries whose names he withdrew before a vote. But in a separate advisory, the office said that the language in the budget barring the payment of Schrader and Peters was also legal under the Maryland Constitution.

From the Letter To Senator Ferguson from the Office of the Attorney General (June 27, 2017):

The reappointment of Ms. Peters and Mr. Shrader after the close of session raises significant constitutional concerns because the practice of making recess reappointments of withdrawn nominees tends to circumvent the Senate’s constitutional confirmation role. But in the absence of any constitutional provision addressing the practice, our Office’s position has been that a governor may reappoint a withdrawn nominee after session so long as the nominee was not rejected by the full Senate. As for the budgetary restriction, I believe it is a constitutionally permissible exercise of the Legislature’s power to impose conditions on the expenditure of appropriated money, particularly as applied to the positions of Secretary and Acting Secretary.

Although a reviewing court might disagree with one or both of these conclusions, it likely would not resolve the reappointment and budgetary issues in a way that would allow a governor to systematically circumvent the Senate’s confirmation role. Instead, it would either invalidate the reappointment of the withdrawn nominees, or, more likely, conclude that the budgetary restriction is a constitutionally valid means of ensuring the integrity of the Senate confirmation process. Thus, even if Ms. Peters and Mr. Shrader were valid recess appointments, they may not receive a salary as Secretary, Acting Secretary, Deputy Secretary, or Assistant Secretary as of the budgetary restriction’s July 1 effective date.

Useful Links