2021 End of Session Wrap-Up: Emergency Services and Intergovernmental Relations

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo's work in the policy areas of emergency services and intergovernmental relations in the 2021 General Assembly.  County governments lead the delivery of public safety services in Maryland - responsible for county fire, police, and emergency services. MACo's advocacy in the area of emergency services includes urging for much-needed state support for local public services such as 9-1-1 call centers, front-line county services, and natural disaster response.…

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MD’s COVID Vax Opening to All Adults; County Equity Plans Due April 5

During the Governor's COVID/vaccination press announcements, he opened up pre-registration to all Maryland adults to be vaccinated, and urged counties to submit locally designed vaccination equity plans. From today's announcements, courtesy of the Governor's office: COUNTY EQUITY PLANS DUE BY MONDAY, APRIL 5 MDH has directed all local health officers to submit equity plans to the state no later than Monday, April 5. In February, the state asked each county to appoint a liaison to the Maryland…

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Maryland’s Health Officers: Improve Vaccine Distribution Equity

On March 22, the Equity Committee of the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO) sent a letter to Maryland Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Jinlene Chan, M.D. urging the Maryland Department of Health to take action to improve vaccine distribution equity. The letter also asked the state health department to lay the foundation for longer-term work to address the systemic influences on equity. The actions were identified as follows: Provide a detailed…

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County Re-opening Plans: Most With State, Some Staying Stricter

This week's announcement relaxing most statewide COVID restrictions on businesses and group events allowed counties to exercise "local authority" to remain more strict - and some are responding to still-troubling local caseloads and staying more cautious. This week saw a flurry of local action, which arose amidst legal questions about the Governor's latest executive order repealing many statewide restrictions. The elimination of state-granted authority left counties to quickly untangle their own processes and authority, in…

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Governor Rescinds State Authority For Greater Local COVID Restrictions … So, Now What?

During the Governor's press conference on March 9, he noted new Executive Orders, relaxing many of the statewide capacity and activity limitations in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A provision in one Order explicitly withdraws State authority for counties to retain stronger restrictions, apparently leaving counties to rely on their own local processes... though the Governor urged county leaders to "get in line."  The legal effects are... unclear. From a release sent to county leaders…

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Broader View Matters on Municipal Incorporation Process

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified on March 2 before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in opposition to HB 1226 Municipal Incorporation - County Commissioners or County Council - Required Approval of Referendum Request. This bill changes how a municipality is incorporated, taking away input and oversight from county governments. From the MACo Testimony: Under current and longstanding Maryland law, in order to incorporate, residents of an area must first petition the county governing…

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MACo to State: Create a COVID-19 Slide Education Initiative

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice and Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jack Wilson, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair, last week sent a letter to Governor Hogan, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Senate President Bill Ferguson requesting the State create a COVID-19 Slide Education Initiative in order for local education agencies to address academic struggles due to the pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and closures of in-person learning opportunities, many Maryland children have…

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Sun Previews Session “Major Issues”

The Baltimore Sun released a preview of major issues facing the General Assembly for the 2021 Session, including police reforms, education, sports wagering. With the 2021 reconvening of the Maryland General Assembly afoot, Maryland's top newspaper covers a range of issues expected to gather attention and ink in the weeks ahead. Unsurprisingly, police reforms are on that list, as many states have responded to calls for social justice in policing tactics and accountability. The legislature…

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Top Issues of 2021 Session: COVID-19 Response and Relief

With the 2021 Legislative Session rapidly approaching, MACo is profiling some major issues that stand to gather attention in the General Assembly’s work. Here, we look at the state-level responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the many effects across Maryland. 2020 was marked, globally, by the outbreak of a pandemic - a novel coronavirus that has cost thousands of lives, and has undermined normal activity for most people. With vaccines hopefully in sight, policymakers face…

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