Bicycle Task Force Issues Draft Report

The Task Force to Study Bicycle Safety on Maryland Highways has issued a draft of its final report on proposed improvements to accommodate cyclists’ safety. The report is available here.

Recommendations of particular note to local governments:

1.7 The legislature should consider legislation to allow state and local agencies to adopt lower speed limits on key roadways targeted for bike safety issues and should adopt a mechanism for state and local agencies to consider lower default speed limits. …

2.2 State and local agencies as well as regional entities should collaborate to explore new methods for collecting ridership, exposure data, and non-reported crashes. This should include consideration of automated counters, user surveys, and crowdsourced data.

2.3 MDOT should update their “Short-Trip Opportunity Area” analysis and provide data to local jurisdictions.

2.4 MDOT SHA should provide local jurisdictions with draft language for local ordinances that can help clarify maintenance responsibilities and expedite construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

2.5 MDOT and local jurisdictions should explore best practices for addressing short and long-term maintenance needs on high priority separated bicycle facilities.

2.6 State and local transportation agencies should consider developing a uniform bicycle route signage system for wayfinding on state and local roads. …

2.8 State and local agencies, in coordination with regional entities, should work to create an updated inventory of trails and bicycle facilities to help identify and prioritize gaps and to assist local jurisdictions with their bike planning activities. The effort should include consideration of rail and utility rights of way, as opportunities to improve network connections. …

2.10 The State and MPOs should work with local jurisdictions to assist in the development of regional trail networks, and to develop projects that connect across jurisdictions. …

2.13 MDOT should clarify and consider adding flexibility to its process for including bike accommodation for new developments along State roads. MDOT should improve their processes for working with local jurisdictions to ensure that full consideration is given to achieving master planned elements for bicycle accommodation, including dedicated bike path rights of way. …

3.1 Local jurisdictions should be encouraged to explore a mechanism to accept a fee in lieu of improvements on the state roadway to address implementation of master planned bike elements in and around the adjacent area. …

3.4 Local jurisdictions should be encouraged to adopt complete streets policies to inform projects on their roadways.

5.2 MDOT in coordination with other state agencies, should work to develop technical assistance tools to assist local jurisdictions and other stakeholders to address the challenges of developing and implementing bike safety related projects.

5.3 MDOT should consider using the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA) designation as a mechanism to pilot a set of low stress and/or emerging bicycle facility types including protected bike lane projects on state roads, to clarify maintenance needs and practices for a variety of configurations, and to explore flexibility for state and local coverage of maintenance needs. …

5.5 MDOT should consider expanding and consistently funding state discretionary programs such as the Bikeways Program to better assist local jurisdictions in planning and building infrastructure that improves bike safety and increases bike mode share. Particular consideration should be given to address needs to support larger projects, and to ensure greater continuity and predictability of funding sources over time.

5.6 Local jurisdictions should explore the use of local ordinances (e.g. Adequate Public Facility Ordinances), impact fees, user fees, parking revenues, home-owners’ associations, business improvement districts, Transportation Management Zones, etc., to help fund and build bicycle infrastructure.

5.7 Local jurisdictions should be encouraged to include bicycle and pedestrian projects in their annual priority letters to MDOT to inform the process for allocating state transportation funding.

The Task Force is accepting comments on the draft report through December 6. Comments should be sent via email to Please consider copying Barbara Zektick, MACo Associate Director and Chris Eatough, MACo’s Task Force representative on the email.

MACo is represented by Chris Eatough, the Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator for Howard County. Chris Eatough received a Masters in Transportation Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1998. A six-time world champion in endurance mountain biking with a successful 14-year athletic career, Chris most recently served five years as the bike and walk program manager for Arlington County, Virginia, where he helped launch the successful Capital Bikeshare program.

Gov. Hogan Proposes Alternative Paid Sick Leave Bill

Governor Hogan today announced that his administration will introduce “The Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018” as emergency legislation on the first day of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session. The bill, phased in over three years, would apply to employers with 50 or more employees in 2018, employers with 40 or more employees in 2019, and employers with 25 or more employees in 2020.

Under the proposal, businesses would be required to provide employees with at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. The Governor’s bill includes a provision to allow businesses that can demonstrate a significant financial hardship to apply for a hardship waiver, exempting them from the paid sick leave requirement.

Governor Hogan also announced a companion bill, which would provide $100M in tax incentives to small businesses to offset the costs of providing employees with paid sick leave.

Earlier this year, Governor Hogan vetoed  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. The General Assembly could override the Governor’s veto when it reconvenes next January.

HB 1 / SB 230 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.

Quick coverage from Hannah Marr on Twitter:

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more coverage, or contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo with any additional questions.

Useful Links

MACo Testimony on HB 1

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Governor Hogan Vetoes Sick Leave Bill

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

Does Federal Tax Reform Kill Maryland’s “Death Tax?”

This session, the General Assembly will consider legislation to chart its own course on the “death tax.”

The U.S. House tax bill proposes eliminating the federal estate tax entirely by 2024 – and the Senate plan raises the existing threshold, so that no one pays estate tax on the first $11 million of inheritance.

Maryland generally couples its tax rules with federal policy, and specifically made its estate tax conform more closely with the federal estate tax in 2014. Under current law, no one pays federal estate tax on the first $5.5 million of inheritance (ensuring this tax already only affects significantly large estates).  Chapter 612 of 2014 made Maryland’s estate tax collection mirror the federal government’s over time. Estates worth $3 million or less pay no Maryland estate tax in calendar 2017; $4 million or less pay no Maryland estate tax in calendar 2018, and, beginning on January 1, 2019, the State exclusion equals the federal exclusion (again, pretty high already, at $5.49 million and indexed to inflation.)

Analysts estimate that the estate tax will bolster the State’s general fund with approximately $132.1 million in fiscal 2018.

Last session, Delegate Jimmy Tarlau introduced legislation to decouple Maryland’s estate tax collection process from the federal government’s. He plans to do so again this year, regardless of where Congress eventually lands on federal tax reform. His legislation would exempt the first $4 million from the Maryland estate tax, taxing estates after that threshold – providing more state general funds for public services. On his Facebook page, Delegate Tarlau indicates that the change would only impact 60 families in Maryland.

The Washington Post reports:

Under current law, Maryland — which has more millionaires per capita than any other state — is supposed to follow federal estate-tax rules beginning in 2019. The state now taxes inheritances greater than $4 million.

Tarlau estimates that raising the exemption level to $11 million could cost Maryland $50 million to $100 million a year. “We need to protect our money for programs like schools, roads, mass transit and tax relief for seniors,” he said.



Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #5 – The Power of Partnership

MACo’s Winter Conference will focus on intergovernmental cooperation and ways that counties can partner with entities in the public and private sector to achieve the best results for Maryland’s residents. Sessions will highlight collaboration across county lines and service areas to address priorities like the opioid epidemic, Next Gen 9-1-1, and the environment, along with other important topics like mutual aid agreements and cooperative purchasing.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the MACo Winter Conference and its focus on reviewing timely issues that will be relevant during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session.

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

Listen here:

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Hogan Appoints Delegate Brett Wilson to Circuit Court Bench

Delegate Brett Wilson (photo courtesy of Maryland State Archives)
Delegate Brett Wilson (photo courtesy Maryland State Archives)

Governor Hogan has appointed Delegate Brett Wilson to serve on the Washington County Circuit Court bench. Delegate Wilson will fill the vacancy left by Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. who retired in May.

The Herald-Mail reports:

After a careful and thorough vetting process, I am confident that Del. Brett Wilson is the most qualified individual for this position,” said Hogan said in a statement. “Del. Wilson has served the people of Washington County with distinction throughout his years in public service, and I offer him my sincere congratulations and wish him well in this new position.”

Wilson was elected to the House of Delegates in 2014 to represent District 2B and served on the House Judiciary Committee. The Washington County Republican Central Committee will begin the process to consider and submit candidates for Wilson’s replacement to Governor Hogan for approval upon his resignation from the House of Delegates.

Read the Herald-Mail to learn more.

Time for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track

LIFT4MD logoEach year MACo adopts a slate of four top legislative initiatives, and this year, MACo reprises its request for wise investment in local infrastructure.

Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland (#LIFT4MD)

Investing in infrastructure – a call addressed to every level of government – improves safety, economic development, and quality of life. Nonetheless, funding for local transportation assets, water delivery systems, public safety centers and more all lack predictable centralized funding commitments.

MACo calls on state leaders to take action in 2018 to:

  • Approve meaningful new FY 2019 funding for local transportation infrastructure – building on last year’s gains
  • Restore the historic 30% local share of transportation revenues – phasing back to the tried-and-true formula in place for decades
  • Inventory the condition of local infrastructure across the state, using existing resources, assessing the needs and revenue sources targeted for each area
  • Prioritize additional funding for local infrastructure, should the State receive extra infrastructure support from the Federal government

All 24 jurisdictions – of varying sizes, budgets, and regions – are united in the need for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland. Bipartisan support for more funding for local infrastructure comes from all corners of the state – urban and rural jurisdictions, and counties from small to large.

The highway user revenue phase-in included in this bill – the “fast track” portion – will supply desperately needed revenue to repair and maintain local roads and bridges. The State and local governments have shared responsibilities for roads and bridges and the revenues generated from them since at least 1904. The State created the highway user revenue formula in 1968, and for more than forty years afterward, local governments had received at least 30 percent of transportation revenues – mostly motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees – to fund their roads and bridges.

This traditional revenue-sharing made sense. Local governments maintain the lion’s share of the roads and bridges in Maryland. Unlike most other states, in Maryland, local governments own and maintain 83% of the roads. Approximately 45% of bridges in our state are owned by local governments, including nearly 70% of the 359 “structurally deficient” bridges as identified by the Maryland Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers in their most recently released Infrastructure Report Card.

The Great Recession forced cuts to this area deeper than those in any other component of
the state budget. Twenty-three counties’ share of highway user revenues plummeted from $282 million in 2007 to only $27 million today. The cumulative loss of local roadway investment since Fiscal 2010 is roughly $3 billion.

Counties highly prioritize investment in a #LIFT4MD.

At MACo’s Winter Conference, December 6-8, 2017, the closing session will focus on MACo’s 4 Initiatives. Register for the conference and join us for an interactive and information session on strategies for the upcoming session!

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:


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.