Proposed SNAP Changes Could Cut 50K Marylanders From Benefits

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program that would put over 50,000 Marylanders at risk for losing the benefit. The most vulnerable include seniors and children. WBAL reports on the proposed rule change: The Agriculture Department issued a proposed rule Tuesday that curtails so-called broad-based categorical eligibility, which makes it easier for Americans with somewhat higher incomes and more savings to participate in the Supplemental…

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FCC’s Latest Orders Expand Broadband Funds and Cap Local Cable Franchise Fees

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued three orders of interest (both good and bad) to local governments on August 1. The FCC took action on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Digital Opportunity Data Collection, and Cable-Related, In-Kind Contributions. NACo reports: The FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which would provide $20.4 billion over 10 years to help companies expand broadband in unserved remote areas. ... Recognizing the inaccuracies of…

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U.S. Census Bureau Launches First Major Field Operation for 2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau last week launched address canvassing, the first major field operation of the 2020 Census. Address canvassing improves and refines the Census Bureau’s address list of households nationwide, which is necessary to deliver invitations to respond to the census. The address list plays a vital role in ensuring a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States. “The Census Bureau is dedicated to ensuring that we are on track,…

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Senator Cardin Updates Counties on Federal Issues at #MACoCon

MACo Conference attendees ask Maryland’s US Senator Ben Cardin questions about federal policy in a town hall forum. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin today answered questions on topics including the federal budget, education, the opioid crisis, infrastructure, elections, clean energy, health insurance, immigration, and gun control at MACo’s Town Hall Forum with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. Senator Cardin also emphasized the importance of cooperation between Maryland’s federal, state, and local government officials. https://twitter.com/KKinnally_MACo/status/1162372737618325504 Senator Cardin’s Town Hall has…

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Feds Award Maryland $1.7M to Modernize 9-1-1

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced more than $109 million in grants to 34 states and two tribal nations as part of the 911 Grant Program, which will help 9-1-1 call centers upgrade to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) capabilities. Maryland will receive $1,707,856 to power basic improvements such as providing digital and IP network capabilities to 9-1-1 emergency call centers and assist implementation of advanced mapping systems…

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Ignoring Your Volunteer Firefighter Shortage Doesn’t Make It Go Away

Across the country, volunteer fire companies are experiencing a critical lack of volunteers to staff calls for service and Maryland is no different. Confronting the crisis requires learning new recruitment and retention practices, and making long-term plans that ensure resiliency. The number of volunteer firefighters has been declining in recent years. According to a 2017 report of the National Fire Protection Association, This past year the number of volunteer firefighters decreased to the lowest estimate…

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NACo Rural County Housing “Learning Cohort” Open

NACo has a national initiative to help advance rural counties' efforts to both expand affordable housing and understand the link between housing, health and equity.  The National Association of Counties (NACo) and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) have partnered to offer this RICC Action Learning Cohort opportunity. Recognizing the critical role local officials play in supporting innovation and change, NACo has a national initiative to help advance county efforts to both expand affordable housing…

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Feds Award $125M to Expand Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore

Governor Larry Hogan today announced that Maryland will receive $125 million to help rebuild the nearly 125-year-old Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. The funding, part of the federal INFRA (Infrastructure For Rebuilding America) Grant Program, will allow the state, in partnership with CSX, to double-stack shipping containers in order to break the rail bottleneck before the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore. According to a press release: “For years, our administration has pursued funding for…

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U.S. House Approves $15 Minimum Wage

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a bill to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. The current federal minimum wage - which has not been raised since 2009 - is $7.25 per hour. The Maryland General Assembly this year passed House Bill 166/Senate Bill 280 (Chs. 10 and 11), legislation to phase in an increase in the State minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2025, with…

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US House Votes To Repeal “Cadillac Tax” On Health Care Plans

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to repeal a scheduled new "tax" on high-value health care plans offered by employers. In an environment where bipartisan consensus can be hard to find in Washington DC, it appeared to power a House vote to repeal the pending "Cadillac tax" that would apply to high-value health care plans offered by employers. From coverage in The Hill: The wide bipartisan vote of 419-6 illustrates how the tax is one of…

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