Apply now: Feds Awarding up to $906 Million for Infrastructure Improvement Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced up to $906 million in available funds through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. INFRA grants provide federal funding for transportation infrastructure projects aimed at addressing critical issues facing America’s highways and bridges. According to the National Association of Counties (NACo): The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 estapblished the INFRA program, which awarded $902.5 million to 20 projects in Fiscal Year 2019. In…

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States Sue EPA For Diminishing Chemical Plant Safety Regulations

Fifteen states including Maryland have filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over rollbacks to the Risk Management Program's regulations. In a document filed Wednesday, the Plaintiffs allege the EPA's actions violate the Clean Air Act.   The EPA's Risk Management Program regulations, referred to as the "Chemical Disaster Rule," were implemented in 2013 as a response to a deadly explosion at a chemical plant in Texas. Last year the Trump administration rolled back…

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U.S. House Democrats Unveil New $760 Billion Infrastructure Plan

U.S. House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a five-year, $760 billion plan to make new investments in the nation’s infrastructure— including roads, bridges, transit systems, railways, airports, ports, inland waterways, wastewater and drinking water systems, brownfields, and broadband. The centerpiece of the plan invests $329 billion for highway, railroad, and transportation repairs and maintenance. Priority would be given to fixing broken and outdated existing infrastructure -- including 47,000 U.S. bridges that are now considered structurally deficient.…

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Sue the EPA

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced Monday its intention to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. Both Maryland and Virginia have already signaled interest in suing the EPA, with Maryland also targeting Pennsylvania for lagging behind in reaching their Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals. The Foundation previously sued the EPA in 2009 alleging that the Agency was failing to enforce the Clean Water Act in the…

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Heads Up! Deadline for NACo 2020 Interim Policy Resolutions Next Week

The National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference is a little over a month away – February 29 - March 4 – and the deadline to submit interim policy resolutions is next Wednesday, January 29. From NACo's website: The NACo resolutions process provides members with the ability to participate in national policy decisions affecting county governments. During the Legislative Conference, NACo’s ten policy steering committees and Board of Directors consider legislative and policy resolutions that will guide…

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Governor Hogan Requests More Temporary Visas for Seasonal Seafood Workers

Governor Larry Hogan sent a letter to the Trump administration Tuesday advocating for more H-2B visas in response to labor shortages in Maryland's seafood industry. He estimates that another year of unaddressed shortages could permanently damage the industry. In his letter, Governor Hogan asked the Acting Homeland Security Secretary and the Secretary of Labor to help create a long-term solution to the problem that threatens the State's $355 million industry. From coverage by WMAR: In…

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New Jersey Enacts SALT Cap Workaround for Small Businesses

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation Monday giving small businesses in the Garden State a workaround for the cap on state and local tax deductions (SALT) under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) -- the 2017 federal tax overhaul that capped SALT deductions at $10,000 – a move of particular import in states like Maryland. This bill permits pass-through businesses, including S corporations, limited liability corporations, and other business partnerships, to shift the…

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Prince George’s, NAACP File Suit Against U.S. Census Bureau

The NAACP and Prince George's County have sued the U.S. Census Bureau on the grounds that the agency's preparations have been insufficient for the 2020 census. From WBAL: The civil rights group and Prince George’s County, a majority African American county in Maryland, filed the lawsuit last Friday in federal court in Maryland. It claims the Census Bureau wasn’t planning to put enough workers in the field and hadn’t opened up a sufficient number of…

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Registration for NACo 2020 Legislative Conference Open

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has opened registration for their 2020 Legislative Conference. Conference dates at February 29 - March 4, in Washington, D. C. From NACo's website: The National Association of Counties Legislative Conference brings together nearly 2,000 elected and appointed county officials to focus on federal policy issues that impact counties and our residents. Attendees have the opportunity to engage in second-to-none policy sessions, interact with federal officials and participate in congressional…

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IRS Revamps Free File Program, Nixes Noncompete Agreement with TurboTax

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) this week announced an agreement with Free File, Inc. (FFI) designed to bring more clarity for taxpayers choosing to use free online software during the 2020 filing season. According to the IRS, the new agreement will help make the Free File program more taxpayer-friendly while strengthening consumer protections in several key areas. The Free File program is a partnership between the IRS and tax-preparation companies to provide free tax-filing software…

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