Join MACo In Calling For A Local Infrastructure Fast Track

LIFT4MD logoA perennial MACo initiative, counties have called for the return of their fair share of transportation-sourced revenues to fund their roadwork for years. This year, MACo’s initiative calls for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track – a #LIFT4MD – to bring local governments back their historic 30 percent share of transportation revenues from the State’s Transportation Trust Fund. It also calls for an assessment of the state of local infrastructure in Maryland, and for the State to share any additional federal infrastructure funds with counties and municipalities.

MACo originally planned to seek restoration of highway user revenues to all local governments in 7 years – and that is how Senate Bill 901 looks in its present form. After discussing the topic with a myriad of stakeholders, MACo decided instead to introduce a consensus bill, with terms appealing to not only counties, but municipalities and the Administration. Therefore, House Bill 1569, as introduced, restores highway user revenues to counties and Baltimore City in eight years, and municipalities in two years. MACo is working with Senate Sponsor Nancy King to amend SB 901 to reflect its cross file.

The hearings on MACo’s Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland Act are scheduled for Wednesday, March 7 at 1 pm in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and Friday, March 9 at 1 pm in the House Environment and Transportation and Appropriation Committees.

MACo calls on representatives from all levels of county governments to join us for these hearings to show your support – it’s time to find a way to give local infrastructure a LIFT. 

And, don’t forget to post about your support on social media using the hashtag, #LIFT4MD.

For more information, contact MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick.

Call If You Can, Text If You Must

Governor Larry Hogan today announced the Board of Public Works’ approval of a new Text to 9-1-1 technology for Maryland, helping to update 1960s-era emergency systems with life-saving technology. This new Internet-based infrastructure allows citizens to send a Short Message Service (SMS) text message to 9-1-1. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that more than 70 percent of all 9-1-1 calls now come from cellular users.

Text to 9-1-1 supports 160 characters per message, but no multimedia messaging, such as photos or video. The total cost of the 2-year contract is approximately $2.2 million.

Text to 9-1-1 is a component of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911), an initiative aimed at updating the 9-1-1 service infrastructure to improve public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. NG911 will improve and enhance the handling of 9-1-1 calls from cell phone users with technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

Advancing NG911 is a priority for county governments. SB 285/HB 634, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, establishes the 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.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

MACo Testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Senator Kagan Receives Prestigious National Public Safety Award

NG911 Institute Honors Senator Kagan for dedication and leadership in advancing the 9-1-1 system

Maryland Senator Cheryl Kagan and Maryland Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

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.

Tony Rose, Chief, Fire/EMS Communications, Charles County, Senator Kagan, and Bill Ferretti, Director, 9-1-1 ECC, Montgomery County

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.

Senator Kagan and Patrick Halley, CEO, NG911 Institute

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.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

MACo Testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

The Maryland Senate took the first step towards advancing Next Generation 9-1-1 in Maryland. Senate Bill 285, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan, passed the Senate unanimously and has crossed over to the House. Its cross-file, House Bill 634, sponsored by Delegate Michael Jackson, will be heard on February 21 in the House Government Operations Committee.

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.

The bill establishes the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will look at 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.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Initiative: Next Gen 9-1-1 Commission Would Guide MD Forward

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 9-1-1 Into the 21st Century

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

MACo testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: County Collaboration on Tax Reform, Lockbox Redux, Employer Mandates, and Bad Docs

The MACo Legislative Committee formally adopted a statement this week to express its views on broad-based tax reform proposals pending before the General Assembly, designed to react (in various ways) to the recently enacted federal tax reforms. Absent state action, some Maryland taxpayers would see an increase in their state and county tax liability — the potential means to offset these changes sit before the legislature in multiple variations of changes to deductions, exemptions, rates, and brackets — each with distinct distributional effects.

Governor Larry Hogan this week announced a “lockbox” proposal to ensure that taxes on casino revenues set aside for education are used to supplement, not supplant state funding for public schools. Last month, legislature leadership announced a plan to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The ballot question would ask voters to approve of putting a “lockbox” on casino money (around $500M per year), requiring it to be used for education above the amount set by state formulas. The Governor’s proposal would not require a referendum, it would be done through statute.

The House Economic Matters Committee voted down SB 304, Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation, which would have delayed implementation of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act until July 1. The vote was 12-11. The focus now turns to a new wave of employer mandate proposals.

A proposal to strengthen Maryland’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is likely to spur a debate over who should have access to the database and under what circumstances. As heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland, County Health Officers could play a vital role in sharing vital information and best practices with identified prescribers, and increase awareness and improve intervention efforts in cases of patients who may be doctor shopping.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down MACo’s position on broad-based tax reform proposals, discuss the competing education “lockbox” initiatives, examine employer mandate proposals, preview the looming debate on Maryland’s PDMP, and more!

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.

Listen here:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.

Hogan Announces Plan for Casino Revenue “Lockbox” to Boost Education Funding

Governor Larry Hogan, flanked by Comptroller Peter Franchot and Secretary of Budget & Management David Brinkley, today announced the “Commitment to Education Act of 2018,” a proposal to ensure that taxes on casino revenues set aside for education are used to supplement, not supplant state funding for public schools. According to Governor Hogan, his plan will add $1 billion in school construction funding and $3.4 billion in operating funding for public schools over the next ten years.

Last month, legislature leadership announced a plan to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The ballot question would ask voters to approve of putting a “lockbox” on casino money (around $500M per year), requiring it to be used for education above the amount set by state formulas. The Governor’s proposal would not require a referendum, it would be done through statute.

According to Governor Hogan, his legislation would phase-in casino revenues to a special fund (the “lockbox”) over the next four years. The first 20% percent would be used for school construction projects (around $100 million next year) and the rest would be used to supplement operating budgets.

The Administration is expected to provide more details on the proposal in the coming days.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

An opinion piece in The Washington Post calls for the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan to include modernizing the nation’s 9-1-1 system. Specifically, the Op-Ed stresses the importance of moving to Next Generation 9-1-1, technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

According to The Washington Post:

Even as an estimated 240 million 911 calls continue to be placed annually, the systems that service them have grown obsolete, unable to handle photos, video, downloads, precise geo-locating and even, in most places, simple text messages. That’s a threat not just to public safety but also to national security.

Worryingly, no one seems quite sure how to pay for a modernization to what’s known as Next Generation 911 (“NG911” in industry parlance), whose cost could exceed $20 billion. This week, as hundreds of public-safety and industry officials gather in the District for their annual 911 conference, many will have one main question on their minds: Why not prioritize an upgrade as part of the Trump administration’s national infrastructure project?

In Maryland, state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat alarmed at the deaths of constituents in her district involving 911 breakdowns since 2006, has introduced legislation to help localities start the transition to NG911.

Advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 Systems is one of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives. 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. MACo urges a concerted statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing the expertise and needs of front-line county managers.

Senate Bill 285/House Bill 634 – “Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment” creates a Commission to examine at 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.

MACo is in strong support of SB 285 and HB 634, you can read the MACo testimony here.

Useful Links

The Washington Post Op-Ed: Here’s an idea for infrastructure week: Bring 911 into the 21st century

MACo Initiative: Next Gen 9-1-1 Commission Would Guide MD Forward

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Both county and municipal governments, still feeling the permanent effects of devastating cutbacks to state roadway funding, have made restoring Highway User Revenues a perennial legislative priority.  HB 1569, introduced today, represents a compromise between counties and municipalities, whereby all local governments would have their local share of Highway User Revenues fully restored.

A law requiring employers to provide employees with sick leave will go into effect on Sunday, despite a veto last year from Governor Larry Hogan and a last-ditch effort by the state Senate to delay its implementation. The law requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) (SB 285/HB 634), one of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Priorities, had a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee this week. Counties from across the state sent public safety professionals to stress the importance of advancing NG911 in Maryland.

The General Assembly is on pace to introduce more than 4,000 bills in 2018. With “crossover” just five weeks away, legislators are scrambling to meet the deadline.

Senator Ed Kasemeyer, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, announced he does not intend to seek re-election to another term. His decision would leave yet another member of the powerful fiscal panel uncertain for the next four-year term.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down the compromise on Highway User Revenues, discuss the paid sick leave law, recap the NG911 hearing, preview big changes on the horizon for the Maryland Senate, and more!

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.

Listen here:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.

 

Senate Passes Bill to Delay Implementation of Paid Sick Leave Law

The Maryland Senate today passed Senate Bill 304 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation. Senate Finance Chairman and chief sponsor of a new law requiring most employers to provide workers with sick leave, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton introduced the bill to delay enforcement of the new law. The final vote was 29-17.

The original version of the bill sought to delay implementation for 60 days after February 11, when the law is set to take effect.However, the bill was amended to delay implementation until July 1, 2018. It’s an emergency bill, which would require a three-fifths vote in both the Senate and the House of Delegates to pass. MACo testified in support of the bill.

Earlier this month, the General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year. Under state law, gubernatorial vetoes overridden by the General Assembly become law in 30 days.

HB 1 would also require county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more coverage, or contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo with any additional questions.

Baltimore County Launches $2.5M Workforce Initiative

Job Connector will help workers get “job ready” to fill vacancies

Baltimore County has launched Job Connector, an innovative $2.5 million workforce program designed to assure employers have a workforce ready to fill high-demand jobs in high-demand fields. With over $5 billion in new economic development projects in the County, companies are hiring, but chronic shortages of qualified workers remain in many fields.

According to a press release:

“We are bringing an employer-focused, supply-and-demand strategy to workforce development,” said [County Executive Kevin] Kamenetz.

The Job Connector Difference

Most government workforce development systems start with the job seeker. This often leads to people completing training and getting certifications in fields where there are no local job openings.

Job Connector starts by looking at the specific jobs and skills that are needed in the Baltimore region. This results in a better match between employer and job seeker, and more certain career paths for employees who want to know that their hard work and skills can lead to promotions and higher wage jobs.

“With low unemployment and a tight job market, companies are ready to hire today. Job Connector can reduce the gap between the skills job seekers have and the skills employers need,” said Kamenetz.

The County-funded initiative will start with programs in healthcare, corporate operations/customer service, and trade apprenticeships in fields allied with business growth at Tradepoint Atlantic on Sparrows Point.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development is partnering with employers, the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), business, union and trade groups to develop flexible, rapid response training and expanded apprenticeship programs.

High Demand Jobs

Research prepared for the Baltimore County Workforce Development Board identified nine key industries that will drive 75% of the job growth in Baltimore County over the next decade: Healthcare, Corporate Operations/Customer Service, Construction, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Federal Agencies, Port/Logistics/Distribution, Education, and Information Technology.

Baltimore County’s American Job Centers at Liberty Center, Hunt Valley and Eastpoint will deploy customized tool kits to help career counselors guide job seekers to training and job openings in these high-demand fields.

“As Job Connector moves forward, we will be expanding our work with Baltimore County Public Schools and higher education partners, as well as reaching out to trade associations, the faith community and other partners to multiply our efforts,” said Will Anderson, director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development.

Read the full press release for more information.