Coronavirus Changes Public Transportation Outlook

Temporary business closures, social distancing, quarantine practices, and teleworking are all leading to a decrease in demand for public transportation. The D.C. Metro is estimated to run a deficit of $50 million per month as ridership has declined significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and they have put more money into enhanced facility cleaning and basic personal protection equipment for their employees. Metro has responded to the decrease in demand by altering their…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Transportation and Public Works

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of transportation policy in the 2020 General Assembly.  MACo generally advocates for appropriate state assistance with roadways and bridges across our communities. Transportation is a shared function in Maryland, with state-maintained roadways (mainly numbered roads) and locally-maintained roadways interlocking throughout most areas. This year, for the first time since the Civil War, the General Assembly closed session early on March 18, due…

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Maryland Issued “Mediocre” Rating for Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given Maryland an overall 2020 infrastructure grade of C. The group gives Maryland high marks in areas like bridge resiliency and airport capacity but highlights issues with transit, citing an eight-year decline in ridership. ASCE issues grades in various infrastructure categories based on the following criteria: capacity, condition, operation and maintenance, funding, future need, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Consistent throughout the report are references to a…

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Local Agencies: Be Careful What You Flush

As citizens are making heightened efforts to promote clean environments for living and work, many are increasing the types of products they flush away. Local public works departments are asking residents to refrain from flushing products other than toilet paper as many products, including those labeled "flushable" can cause expensive system blockages. Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus many residents may be tempted to dispose of disinfecting wipes by flushing them away. Additionally, toilet…

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Counties Support Stable Funding for Local Environmental Health Boards

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified before the House Appropriations Committee to support HB 1484 (CF SB 673) - State Board of Environmental Health Specialists - Fees - General Fund. MACo also submitted testimony in February to support the cross-filed Senate Bill 673. This bill would help ensure stable and predictable funding for the State Board of Environmental Health Specialists, which is responsible for licensing Maryland's Local Environmental Health Directors. From the MACo Testimony: The…

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Burdensome Sidewalk Bill Receives Unfavorable Report

SB 65 - Counties - Construction of Sidewalks and Crosswalks - Safe Alternative Routes to Public Schools was given an unfavorable report in the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Although MACo supported the goal of this bill, as written it would would have create a significant unfunded mandate for county governments to construct any sidewalks and crosswalks necessary for students living in certain areas to travel to school. If the route to school was not…

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Senate Committee Rejects SDAT Cost Shift, Restores Funding for Community Colleges and Local Roads

During its operating budget decision meeting on March 5th, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee rejected three proposals in SB 187, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2020 (“BRFA”) that would have compromised county finances. The full Senate is expected to take up these budget decisions early next week. As introduced, the BRFA would have increased counties’ reimbursement of SDAT functions, including costs of real property valuation, business personal property valuation, and information technology.…

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MDE Recycling Markets Study Would Help Local Recycling Programs

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified to before the House Environment & Transportation Committee to support HB 1452 - Department of the Environment – Office of Recycling – Recycling Market. The bill would require the Office of Recycling contained within the Maryland Department of the Environment to identify new and existing markets for recycled commodities. From the MACo Testimony: In Maryland, the State mandates that counties reach certain recycling goals, and central to the revenue…

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Counties Support Restoration of Stable Highway User Revenue Funds

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified to support with amendments SB 982 (CF HB 1067) - Highway User Revenues – Revenue and Distribution. This bill would provide a long-term restoration for the state-levied transportation revenues needed to support safety and maintenance work on local roads and bridges across Maryland, which took deep cuts during the Great Recession in 2009-2010. From the MACo Testimony: SB 982 takes an appropriate “next step” with Highway User Revenues –…

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Bill Would Repeal Shore Counties’ Limited Approval Authority Over New or Expanded Toll Facilities
(photo source: Wikipedia)
Bill Would Repeal Shore Counties’ Limited Approval Authority Over New or Expanded Toll Facilities

Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller yesterday introduced legislation (SB 1069) to repeal the shore counties’ limited approval authority for new or expanded toll facilities. Since 1978, the majority of affected county governments must consent to the construction of a toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. According to Maryland Matters: In an interview, Miller said local leaders should not have the power to…

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