Let the Sunshine In – Register Now For MACo Solar Symposium

 

MACo, in partnership with the Sierra Club of Maryland and Solar United Neighbors, is offering a free one-day symposium to county officials (elected and non-elected) on the benefits and challenges of siting community and utility-scale solar generation facilities within your county.

The symposium, titled Let the Sunshine In: Solar Siting in Maryland, will provide an overview of solar’s role in Maryland, including existing laws; offer perspectives from different stakeholders, such as agriculture, community/health, and the environmental community; discuss local zoning and taxation best practices; and showcase several solar “success stories.” The symposium will be concluded with an open facilitated discussion where attendees can raise solar-related issues and questions important to their local jurisdiction.

 

Let the Sunshine In: Solar Siting in Maryland

  • Date: Thursday, October 11, 2018
  • Time: 10:00 am – 3:45 pm (morning coffee and lunch provided)
  • Location: North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel MD 20723
  • Eligible Attendees: County elected and non-elected officials
  • Cost: Free but registration is required

Session Objectives

  • Provide key information on factors affecting solar energy development in Maryland relevant to the needs and policy decisions of county officials
  • Present examples of Best Practices in solar development
  • Offer opportunity for dialogue among county officials and experts engaged in specific technical and policy areas relevant to solar development

Space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. A full agenda will be released shortly. For further questions about the symposium, please contact Les Knapp at lknapp@mdcounites.org or 410.269.0043.

Useful Links

Register for Let the Sunshine In: Solar Siting in Maryland 

Sierra Club of Maryland Website

Solar United Neighbors Website

 

 

MACo Announces 2019 Legislative Initiatives

MACo to prioritize education, public health, implied preemption, and NG 9-1-1 in 2019 legislative session. 

MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 12, 2018 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2019 Session. These issues — Continuing State Commitment to Education; Re-Prioritizing Public Health; Repeal “Implied” Preemption Doctrine; and Next Generation 9-1-1 Implementation — cover a broad range of important county concerns that MACo will proactively advocate for in front of the General Assembly.

Each year MACo adopts a slate of top legislative initiatives, typically representing the wide swath of services counties deliver to Maryland residents. The Initiatives Subcommittee meets through the summer to refine and focus a list of dozens of proposed initiatives into no more than four as required by the Association’s bylaws. The slate is then presented to the Legislative Committee for adoption. With the upcoming election in November and potential changes in local elected officials serving on the Legislative Committee, the 2019 Legislative Committee will also discuss and vote to approve the initiatives again in January.


Continuing State Commitment to Education

Maryland’s commitment to Pre-K – 12 education must continue to meet the needs of a diverse student body, and to prepare Maryland’s children for a global economy.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education will recommend major shifts in the relative role of state and local funding in each of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions. At the same time, the 21st Century School Facilities Commission and its legislative outcomes recommended an increased annual State contribution for capital projects, and required ongoing study of school construction project funding and priorities.

MACo advocates for a partnership approach to meeting the education and facility needs of Maryland’s students that fairly balances state responsibilities with local obligations, and seeks equitable and efficient solutions to meet current expenses and future goals. 


Re-prioritizing Public Health

Local Health Departments are the state’s frontline for public health services and education. Over the years, dramatic and lasting funding reductions as well as threatened cost shifts have endangered their capacity to provide these crucial services in our communities and have forced them to do more with dramatically fewer resources.

These cuts have been exacerbated by the opioid epidemic that continues to plague the state. The deadliness of the opioids that have permeated our communities makes it even more critical that local health departments and associated treatment services – beds, facilities, providers – are available to meet our residents’ needs on-demand.

MACo advocates to prioritize public health in the face of the opioid epidemic and crises to come by reviving local health department funding and targeting drug treatment funding to address demand where it is needed most.


Repeal “Implied Preemption” Court Doctrine

Maryland courts have adopted an inconsistent but growing theory of State preemption over local actions – finding that counties may be preempted even without any State law explicitly stating so. This principle was used years ago to invalidate multiple local tobacco regulations, and more recently on local pesticide oversight, and energy facility siting.

Legislation should specify that preemption should not take place in the courts by mere interpretation, but in the open and accessible lawmaking process, where all stakeholders may be heard on the merits of their arguments.


Next Generation 9-1-1 Implementation

It is time for Maryland to move to the Next Generation of 9-1-1 (NG911) service. Maryland’s current 9-1-1 Call Centers need additional support to accurately and expeditiously handle an increasing number of cell phone-based calls for emergency service. In addition, local call centers in Maryland are seeking to offer potential service enhancements for cell phone users, including video and text messaging, and improved location tracking accuracy.

Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for this important step is a public safety priority affecting every part of Maryland. 


 

Revenues, Taxes, and Wynne — Updates from State’s Chief Economist

Andrew Schaufele, Director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, briefed MACo’s Legislative Committee Wednesday, September 12, 2018 on the state of the State’s economy. 

Andy
Director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, Andrew Schaufele

Schaufele delivered good news regarding the state’s revenues — there’s a $504 million surplus! This was 2% more than estimated, much of which has been attributed to capital gains. Of that surplus $200 million has been set aside to help fund changes anticipated to occur as a result of the Kirwan Commission. The state also beat sales tax estimates.

Schaufele also provided updates on:

  • The Wynne Case. Challenges are ongoing with three separate cases in the courts. As was reported on Conduit Street, the Office of the Attorney General has formally requested the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County to review the Maryland Tax Court’s ruling which essentially raises the Wynne Case refund interest rate from three to 13 percent – a decision which would likely cost Maryland counties $30 to $40 million. County attorneys have been engaged on this issue filing amicus briefs and working with the Attorney General’s office.
  • Federal Tax Reform. Tax payer reactions to federal tax reforms add a level of uncertainty to estimates. However early data shows that shifts in tax payments and deductions have impacted the flow of money into the state and counties to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in the immediate years to forecasts of hundreds of millions of dollars in future years.

Members of the MACo Legislative Committee include representatives from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. The committee meets regularly on Wednesdays at the MACo office during the general assembly session. During the interim, the committee meets quarterly to develop legislative priorities for the coming year.

For more information:

MD AG Seeks Judicial Review of Wynne Whammy (Conduit Street)

Court Strikes Wynne Interest Rate, Costing Counties $30 Million (Conduit Street)

First Quarter Income Tax Distributions: Tax Reform Impacts Materialize (Conduit Street)

Learn to Survive: Active Shooter Response Training at #MACoCon

At the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session “Active Shooter Response Training“ Deputy First Class Thomas Wehrle, Sniper Section Coordinator, Special Operations Division for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office gave attendees a crash course in how to prepare both mentally and physically to survive an active shooter situation before law enforcement arrives.

Deputy First Class Thomas Wehrle
Deputy First Class Thomas Wehrle

Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Deputy Wehrle shared up-to-date data and facts on active shooter situations and walked through how to handle your survival options: (1) run, (2) hide, or (3) fight if you must.

The session was moderated by Harford County Council Member Jim McMahan and held on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center.

Taking Care of Substance Exposed Newborns at #MACoCon

Attendees of the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session “Handle with Care: Substance Exposed Newbornsreceived an update on recent changes in federal and state law concerning substance exposed newborns and learned about what some counties are doing to provide earlier intervention and better management of care for substance abusing mothers and their substance exposed newborns.

From left to right: Brandi Stocksdale, Tiffany Rexrode, and Jennifer Thomas, Bethany Fisher
From left to right: Brandi Stocksdale, Tiffany Rexrode, Jennifer Thomas, and Bethany Fisher

Brandi Stocksdale, the Acting Deputy Executive Director for Programs in the state’s Social Services Administration, set the stage by presenting on federal requirements for addressing substance exposed newborns and the recent change in state law to ensure compliance with federal standards. The bill, which was introduced by Delegate C.T. Wilson and signed into law by the Governor, ensured that Maryland was no longer at risk for losing vital funding. Stockdale also discussed how the state is partnering with local counterparts to implement changes and address areas of concern.

Switching gears to more local perspectives, Tiffany Rexrode, Washington County’s  Assistant Director for Adult, Child, and Family Services, spoke about the range of services offered in the county. Additionally, Bethany Fisher, SEN Specialist for Harford County, and Jennifer Thomas, Staff Development Nurse Special Care Nursery and Pediatrics at Upper Chesapeake Health, jointly presented on the programs and partnerships in place in Harford County to address mothers, families, and substance exposed newborns. The speakers provided statistics on the impacts of substance exposed newborns in the counties and the Harford County presenters shared a jarring video of what it looks and sounds like to handle substance exposed newborns.

The session was moderated by Delegate Eric Bromwell and held on Thursday, August 15, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

The Science and Policy of Keeping Water Clean at #MACoCon

At the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session “Good to the Last Drop: Keeping Your Water Clean attendees learned how state and local governments as well as private sector partners are working hard to protect the health and welfare of local communities by keeping harmful toxins and contaminants out of their water.

Clifford Mitchell
Clifford Mitchell

The panel began with a presentation by Clifford Mitchell the Director of the Environmental Health Bureau at the Maryland Department of Health.  Mitchell set the stage by providing an overview of the shared responsibility among federal, state, and local governments to regulate and protect the integrity of groundwater and surface water, including your drinking water. He also discussed the range of possible contaminants — regulated, unregulated, naturally occurring, and emerging — that must be dealt with.

Leigh Broderick
Leigh Broderick

Leigh Broderick, Environmental Health Director for Carroll County, focused on the specific issue of chlorides in ground. Chlorides are are negatively charged ions that dissolve very readily in water and form very corrosive salts. Think salts used on roads during the winter or naturally occurring at the beach. Broderick discussed the impacts these salts have on the environment and our water systems, as well as the potential but often difficult and costly potential solutions to treat the problem.

 

John Holaday
John Holaday

John Holaday, CEO of Dispose Rx presented on pharmaceutical contaminants of water.  He shared figures on the environmental impacts of drugs in water, and how it is essential to stop them from reaching water sources because it is impossible to filter them out once they are there.  Holaday concluded his presentation with a look at how changing habits and certain products, like Dispose Rx can help with preventing drugs from entering the water stream.

Finally, Environmental Health Director for Anne Arundel County Don Curtian presented on an innovative change the county made to how they regulate home septic systems to ensure they are better protecting ground water. Instead of sizing them based on the number of specific rooms in the house, the county sizes them based on the square footage of the home. Systems are now better sized to reflect the larger overall scale of homes being built without having complicated standards for what counts as a “room.”

Don Curtian, Clifford Mitchell, Delegate Erek Barron, John Holaday
Don Curtian, Clifford Mitchell, Delegate Erek Barron, John Holaday

The session was moderated by Delegate Erek Barron and held on Friday, August 16, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

What’s New and What’s Next? Rural Health Care at #MACoCon

Attendees of the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session “Rising Tides of Rural Health Care” got a crash course on a broad range of issues and pending policy solutions to rural health care service and delivery.

Delegate Carozza and Dr. Ciotola.
Delegate Carozza and Dr. Ciotola.

Panel moderator Delegate Mary Beth Carozza opened with a statement on the importance of rural health from her role in the legislature.

Next, Lara Wilson the Executive Director of the Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA) gave a brief overview of MRHA and the development of the 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan.

Simone Bratton from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) discussed non-emergency Medicaid transports and collaborations with Maryland Transit Authority to improve compliance and access to rural public transportation services for health care.

The bulk of the panel’s presentation was provided by Dr. Joseph Ciotola, Queen Anne’s County Health Officer. Dr. Ciotola shared a summary of the work of the Rural Health Care Delivery Workgroup over the course of two years of workgroup meetings. His presentation included a look at related legislation that did and did not pass last session, and recommendations from the workgroup of issues to tackle next session.

Simone Bratton and Mark Luckner
Simone Bratton and Mark Luckner

Executive Director for the Rural Maryland Council, Charlotte Davis, discussed the Council’s role supporting rural counties and providing grant assistance to advance their efforts.

Mark Luckner the Executive Director of the Community Health Resource Commission (CHRC) wrapped up the panel with information about key state health grants offered through CHRC. Luckner not only highlighted upcoming grant opportunities, but also showcased success stories of projects and entities that received funding from CHRC and leveraged that funding to further advance their goals.

The session was held on Friday, August 16, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

Keeping Count of the Senior Boom with the U.S. Census at #MACoCon

At the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session “Turn the Tide with Demographics: 2020 Census and the Senior Boom attendees learned about how the U.S. Census data gathering efforts help inform and shape the delivery of services by local governments.

From left to right: Nesreen Kashan, Mayor Pugh, Pattie Tingle, and Delegate McKay
From left to right: Nesreen Khashan, Mayor Pugh, Pattie Tingle, and Delegate McKay

While there is a broad range of demographic data collected by the U.S. Census that is available to assist local governments, panelist focused on senior adults. It is estimated that Maryland’s senior population will increase by 40% from 1.2 million to 1.7 million individuals — and counties need to be prepared for that boom.

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh kicked off the panel pulling from her experience as Chair of the Census Task Force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and leading local organizational efforts in Baltimore City. Pugh discussed the importance of getting an accurate and complete count for the 2020 census and how that information will shape local policy and resources.

Next, Nesreen Khashan, a data dissemination specialists for the U.S. Census Bureau, discussed the technical and operational steps being taken now to prepare for the 2020 census and how advancements in technology will assist the bureau in meeting their goals of to count everyone once, only once and in the right place. Khashan, also shared specific census data regarding the aging populations in Baltimore City and the Eastern Shore that complemented the presentations of Mayor Pugh and Pattie Tingle.

Finally Pattie Tingle the Executive Director for MAC, Inc., one of the five oldest Area Agencies on Aging in the United States which serves senior citizens in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties, spoke to the need of ensuring that seniors are properly accounted in the 2020 census so that counties can prepare for enough programs and resources to meet the demands of the coming senior tsunami. Tingle stressed how funding has been stagnant in the face of a growing senior population that has different needs and desires from earlier generations — namely supporting efforts to allow seniors to age in place.

The session was moderated by Delegate Mike McKay and held on Thursday, August 15, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

Education Funding Hot Topic at #MACoCon

Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan

The [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was formed in 2016 to answer two questions: Should the state revise current education funding formulas? And what major new education policies must be enacted to put Maryland public schools on par with the best in the world? The Commission released preliminary policy recommendations earlier this year, and has recently sharpened its focus on education formulas — including the pattern and role of county funding.

During the 2018 MACo Summer Conference panel “Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0” attendees heard an update on the Commission’s work, as well as a timeline for its final recommendations.

Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, Chair, Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, began the session by providing an overview of the Commission, its preliminary recommendations, the status of the Commission’s four working groups, and a timeline for its final report. Dr. Kirwan also stressed the need for a strong system of governance and accountability to oversee the implementation of its recommendations.

Craig Rice, Montgomery County Councilmember

Craig Rice, Montgomery County Councilmember and MACo appointee to the Kirwan Commission, discussed early childhood education, including pre-kindergarten. Councilmember Rice also emphasized MACo’s position that any recommendations made by the Commission be fair and equitable to all twenty-four jurisdictions, and that no recommendations result in a “winners and losers” situation for Maryland’s counties.

Allegany County Commissioner and MACo appointee to the Kirwan Commission, William Valentine, discussed the Commission’s goal of eliminating the gap in compensation between teachers and high-status professions that require comparable levels of education. Commissioner Valentine also explained the Commission’s plan for expanding access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways.

The session was moderated by Delegate Maggie McIntosh and was held on Saturday, August 18. The 2018 MACo Summer Conference was August 15-18, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. This year’s theme was “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Smart Talks on 5G Technology and Small Cells at #MACoCon

“On average each household has 13 connected wireless devices. In the near future it is estimated that each household will have upward of 50 connected wireless devices.” – Michelle Painter, Sprint

Attendees of the MACo Summer Conference session “Surf’s Up! Small Cell Tsunami” got a double dose of information from two prominent groups of players on the small cell field: (1) wireless service  and infrastructure providers and (2) local government attorneys.

Michelle Painter (Sprint) and LaTara Harris (AT&T)
Michelle Painter (Sprint) and LaTara Harris (AT&T)

A panel of wireless services and infrastructure providers shared their perspective on the importance the advancement of small cell technology will have on Maryland and how they are working to deploy the technology around the state. The speakers included Michelle Painter, Counsel and Government Affairs for Sprint; Genese N. Thomas, Network Real Estate for Verizon Wireless; Richard Rothrock, Government Relations Manager for Crown Castle; and LaTara Harris, Regional Director of External Affairs for AT&T.

Richard Rothrock (Crown Castle)
Richard Rothrock (Crown Castle)

Painter provided an overview of what small cells and the future of 5G technology can bring to a community. She also brought an example of a Sprint small cell. Rothrock highlighted the role infrastructure developers play and the successful collaborations they’ve had with local governments. Thomas shared a video and some points explaining how small cells work. And Harris outlined four pillars of what is being sought through statewide legislation: (1) streamlined application processes; (2) shot clocks; (3) reasonable fees; and (4) appropriate access to the right of way. Statewide legislation was introduced last session, but a hearing on the bill did not occur. It is anticipated that some form of statewide legislation will be introduced last session.

Johnny Mautz (Maryland House of Delegates)
Johnny Mautz (Maryland House of Delegates)

A panel of local government attorneys from Baltimore City and Montgomery County shared need to know information about a county’s role in small cell approval and implementation as well as lessons they’ve learned working on small cell regulation within their respective jurisdictions. The speakers included Victor Tervala, Chief Solicitor of Legal Advice & Opinions for the Baltimore City Department of Law; and Jeffrey Zyontz, Senior Legislative Analyst for the Montgomery County Council.

Victor Tervala (Baltimore City)
Victor Tervala (Baltimore City)

Tervala shared four principles local officials need to consider: (1) you cannot prohibit or effectively prohibit the deployment of small cells; (2) you cannot discriminate between services providers providing the same service; (3) you have to allow competition to address gaps in services; (4) you cannot regulate small cells on the basis of health concerns.

Jeffrey Zyontz (Montgomery County)
Jeffrey Zyontz (Montgomery County)

Zyontz went through a list of specific issues counties should consider as owners of the public right of way. These included: the differences between public utilities and the telecom industry; regulation through zoning and through franchise agreements; bonding and insurance coverage; fees charged for access and use; authority over property you own in the right of way and property owned by someone else in your right away.

The session was moderated by Delegate Johnny Mautz and held on Wednesday, August 15 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.