An overview of MACo’s advocacy on school construction legislation in the 2018 General Assembly.
MACo’s advocacy on the 21st Century Act and other school construction legislation focused on areas of county importance, including flexibility for local school construction programs and efficient and effective use of state and local dollars for schools.
Follow links below for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
21st Century School Facilities Act
MACo successfully supported the 21st School Facilities Act with amendments. The 21st Century School Facilities Act incorporates more than thirty-six recommendations of a two-year commission on school construction appointed by the Presiding Officers of the General Assembly.
Thanks to years of advocacy by MACo’s Legislative Committee and Education Subcommittees and the active participation of county representatives on the 21st Century School Facilities Act, the 21st Century School Facilities Act included many long-standing MACo legislative positions as introduced. In addition, MACo’ successfully added several amendments addressing county concerns and advancing county priorities. Other amendments to the bill change the authorities of the Board of Public Works over school funding decisions, an area outside of MACo’s advocacy.
House Bill 1783 / Senate Bill 1243 was passed by the General Assembly and vetoed by the Governor. The General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto before the end of the legislative session and the bill is now law.
Bill Information | MACo Coverage: School Construction Bill Rebounds | MACo Coverage: Amended, Amending, Amended: Schools Act Moves Along
Other K-12 School Construction Bills
MACo supported with amendments a bill to make several changes to current laws for school construction and creates an incentive program for alternative financing projects. During the course of the legislative session, House Bill 968 / Senate Bill 92 was amended significantly to advance only an incentive pilot program to encourage local school systems in Harford, Prince George’s, and Washington counties. Other elements of the legislation, and MACo’s recommended amendments, were incorporated into the 21st Century School Facilities Act. The legislation passed in the final days of the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information
MACo supported with amendments a bill to require the Interagency Committee on School Construction to develop educational facilities sufficiency standards and a facility condition index and use the index to rank all of Maryland’s public schools. MACo stated that local control of priorities for school construction funding must be maintained, and not lost to a statewide calculation of facility conditions and repair costs. Ultimately, the elements of House Bill 1495 / Senate Bill 1183 were incorporated into the 21st Century School Facilities Act, with additional provisions preserving local control. Bill Information
MACo supported with amendments a bill to legislation would expand county and school board authorities with regard to alternative financing for school construction and clarify laws of school funding regarding school leases. MACo supported the bill, with the caveat that lease payments for school facilities be considered outside of operating funding mandates for education. Ultimately, elements of Senate Bill 1145 were incorporated into the 21st Century School Facilities Act, with accommodation of the MACo amendment. Bill Information
MACo supported a bill to change the trigger for application of prevailing wage laws to school construction. Under current law, if 25% of funding for a school comes from the State, the law applies. For other public works projects, and previously for school construction, the threshold is 50%, which is where this bill would have returned the school construction trigger. While this legislation did not advance, the 21st Century School Facilities Act includes a study requirement on the effect of the prevailing wage. MACo will continue advocacy to return the prevailing wage threshold for school construction to its prior point. Bill Information
MACo supported a bill to establish a Healthy School Facility Fund to provide grants to public schools to improve the health of school facilities. This legislation was amended into a $30 million annual grant fund that will only exist for two years, fiscal 2020 and 2021, and passed by the General Assembly. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: $30 Million for Healthy Schools Passes Maryland Senate
MACo supported a bill to create a grant program for the capital equipment needed in career and technology education. House Bill 1098 / Senate Bill 515 did not passed by the General Assembly. Bill Information
Community College Facilities
MACo supported a bill to establish a new program to provide grants for improvements, repairs, and deferred maintenance projects at
community colleges, including Baltimore City Community College. Under House Bill 403 / Senate Bill 595, community colleges are eligible for up to $3 million in facility renewal grants in FY 2019 and 2020 and up to $4 million beginning in FY 2021. The bill does not require them to provide any matching funds for the grants. This legislation was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage: Continued Care of Community College Facilities Creates Cost Savings
For more information on school construction legislation tracked by MACo during the 2018 legislative session, click here.