MACo’s legislative efforts earned an 80% success rate – and as usual, the counties’ voice makes a difference in Annapolis. Bills we support are more likely to pass, and bills we oppose are more likely to fail.
MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its Legislative Committee. This body comprises elected representatives from all of MACo’s members – the 24 county jurisdictions (including Baltimore City).
The “one county, one vote” system of deciding the Association’s legislative strategies, ensures that all counties have an equal voice. All 24 jurisdictions participated regularly in the weekly meetings throughout the session – where they also engaged with policy leaders and advocates who joined the meeting to address county leadership.
Our policy staff have compiled updates and results on all of the bills the Legislative Committee decided to take action on this year.
For the 2018 End of Session Wrap-up for each subject MACo covers, click below:
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
Tax Sale Task Force Legislation
MACo successfully supported a bill that helps remove an obstacle to having accurate land records, and could reduce errant billing leading to extraordinary tax collection complications. This is accomplished by authorizing Registers of Wills to waive probate fees in certain circumstances where an heir may not be able to afford to settle an estate and effectuate the transfer of title to property. House Bill 556 / Senate Bill 466 passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo successfully supported a bill to give counties broader authority to withhold vacant and abandoned properties from tax sale, retain control over them, and instead focus economic development efforts on those properties. House Bill 1112 / Senate Bill 951 passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information
MACo supported a bill to give counties the authority, if enabled under local law, to withhold vacant and abandoned properties
from tax sale and instead take ownership of the properties themselves after implementing traditional foreclosure. House Bill 1246 / Senate Bill 954 did not pass the General Assembly. Bill Information
MACo supported bills to give counties the authority to withhold properties from tax sale if the total taxes and fees due on the
property equal less than $750. Under current law, counties (except Baltimore City) must send all properties to tax sale if more than $250 is owed. Additionally, the bill requires counties to send
information on free home ownership counseling services to homeowners along with their final overdue bill before their property is subject to tax sale. House Bill 1465 and Senate Bill 952 passed the General Assembly and has been signed by the Governor. HB 1465 Bill Information | Senate Bill 952 Bill Information
For more information on tax and revenues legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.
The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of intergovernmental relations policy in the 2018 General Assembly.
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
MACo made establishing the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 in Maryland a 2018 Legislative Initiative. SB 285/HB 634 will help Maryland prepare for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system that our residents expect and deserve. Specifically, HB 634/ SB 285 establishes the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. MACo believes this legislation is vital for the development of a statewide strategy to create a common framework for the implementation of NG911 in Maryland. The bill passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported a bill to give county governments the authority, if enacted under local law, to expand benefits for 9-1-1 public safety telecommunicators. SB 1053 would enable local governments to grant, by law, a property tax credit for dwellings owned by owned by public safety telecommunicators. SB 1053 was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported a bill to provide counties with a new tool to help support a full, fair, and accurate count of all residents in the State of Maryland. Under the bill, local governments and nonprofit organizations may apply for matching grant funds to promote a fair and equitable 2020 Census. Local, state, and federal governments, businesses, nonprofits, and foundations all rely on census-track data to allocate funding, measure impact, and make strategic decisions around service delivery and economic development. The bill creates an efficient and effective system for leveraging state and local resources to support a more accurate 2020 Census, paving the way for a fair and equitable flow of resources to the State and its local jurisdictions. The bill passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by the Governor.
On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss a number of issues that have been resolved by the General Assembly as well as a number of issues that still require attention. MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.
Amendments to the 21st Century School Facilities Act are under review by the House Appropriations Committee, with a vote expected soon. Substantial amendments have been discussed by the Committee over the past few days.
On March 20th, a Joint House and Senate Work Group met to review amendments submitted on HB 1783. Today, March 21st, the Committee met to review a re-print of the bill that included several amendments.
The biggest news over the past couple of days is an amendment that would pull the Interagency Committee of School Construction (IAC) out from underneath the Board of Public Works, introduced by the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
The amendment revises the membership of the IAC, and sets forth the IAC as an independent body with authority to develop policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations on state school construction allocations.
The second biggest action on the bill relates to language regarding the indexing of schools according to facility needs. Using an index for state funding decisions may threaten local determination of needs, and could mean those districts that regularly fund and properly maintain their schools receive less state support.
The Committee is currently considering reworking the language regarding indexing to include several references to local priorities. In addition, MACo, and associations of boards of education (MABE) and superintendents (PSSAM) remain represented in the work group that the bill sets forth to determine whether and how any assessment is used for funding decisions.
MACo has also made progress on several amendments sought by county governments, including changes to alternative financing laws to reduce hurdles to public private partnerships in school construction.
Stay tuned for more day-by-day updates on this sweeping legislation affecting a top county priority.
9-1-1 telecommunicators operate in a very stressful environment, and the nature of the job has made it difficult for counties to maintain a consistent staff over a long period of time. Senate Bill 1053 would allow local governments to expand benefits to these public safety telecommunicators and their dependants by implementing a tax credit up to $2,500 for property owned in the jurisdiction by a 9-1-1 telecommunicator.
The bill also expands the eligibility criteria for the Edward T. and Mary A. Conroy Scholarship to include public safety communicators and their dependents, and expressly authorizes county governments to provide death and funeral benefits for 9-1-1 public safety telecommunicators.
MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in support of SB 1053 before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on March 13, 2018.
The impacts of 9-1-1 work-related stress has made it difficult for counties to recruit and retain emergency dispatch personnel. High turnover rates and staffing shortages at dispatch centers could be further exasperated by the increased demands and training requirements before, during, and after the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1.
SB 1053 would provide counties with another tool to incentivize potential recruits and retain current employees. This legislation properly leaves the decision for expanding employee benefits in the hands of the local governments, who are best situated to determine whether such policies are in their best interest.”
For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.
MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick testified in support of Senate Bill 855, “2020 Census Grant Program – Establishment and Funding”, before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on March 7, 2018.
This bill would allow local governments to seek matching grant funds to help conduct a fair and accurate census. Governments at every level use data from the census to allocate appropriate funding and resources. An accurate count affects the local economy and the ability of local governments to effectively provide services for years after the census is taken.
MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified before the House Health and Government Operations Committee in support of House Bill 634, “Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment”, on February 21, 2018.
Next Generation 9-1-1 helps to innovate and improve the exemplary and essential services required of emergency services in the state of Maryland. By establishing this commission, Maryland can begin to develop a common framework and collection of best practices in order to properly and successfully implement Next Gen 9-1-1 services.
Maryland citizens demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.”
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.
NG911 Institute Honors Senator Kagan for dedication and leadership in advancing the 9-1-1 system
Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan last week received the Government Leader Award from the Next Generation 9-1-1 Institute. This award recognizes an elected or appointed Federal, State, or Local Government Leader that has displayed significant dedication and leadership in advancing the 9-1-1 system.
Senator Kagan is the lead Senate sponsor of Senate Bill 285/HB 634 a MACo Legislative Initiative to establish a Commission to Advance Next-Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.
Each February, the NG911 Institute hosts the Annual Honor Awards Reception where heroes and leaders in the 9-1-1 field are recognized and celebrated. Members of the Congressional NG9-1-1 Caucus and other Members of Congress and their staff, appointed federal officials and agency staff, members of the public safety community, public safety industry leaders, and members of the general public, are invited to attend.
The NG911 Institute is a not-for-profit organization, which supports the efforts of the Congressional NextGen 911 Caucus. The mission of the NG911 Institute is to assist the Congressional NextGen 911 Caucus by serving as a broad educational resource on issues important to the effective operation and advancement of NG911 services and systems. The overarching objective of the Institute is to advance the rapid implementation of NG911 in order to promote more effective emergency response, improve public safety, and advance national security interests. To this end, the Institute seeks to educate Congressional Members and staff on issues that may impact timely and effective NG911 implementation.