Op-Ed Urges Kirwan Commission to Consider Race in Education Recommendations

Advocates call on Kirwan Commission to consider policy recommendations informed by race

An opinion piece in The Baltimore Sun advocates for the Kirwan Commission (formally the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Education) to craft policy recommendations that are informed by race. The co-authors of the op-ed, Erika Seth Davies and Laura Gamble, lament that the Commission has failed to address the role of race in educational outcomes, stating,

There is no mention of race in the building blocks — no mention of known racial disparities in educational outcomes; of the negative impact that decades-long, persistent federal, state and local discriminatory policies and modern-day de facto segregation have had on performance outcomes for the U.S. when comparing our educational system to other nations’.

We call on the commission to embrace the role that it can and should play in erasing race-based disparities in educational outcomes and the allocation of resources so that race can no longer be a predictor of student achievement and success. Only then can we truly hope for change in outcomes for all students.

For more information, see the full opinion piece in The Baltimore SunMd. Kirwan Commission must consider race in education recommendations and previous Conduit Street coverage of the Kirwan Commission.

Six Maryland Public Schools Earn State Blue Ribbons

Six Maryland public schools have been selected as 2017-18 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools. All six were selected as an Exemplary High Performing School, one of the U.S. Department of Education’s two categories. The schools are being honored before the Maryland State Board of Education.

According to a press release:

The schools are:

  • West Towson Elementary School, Baltimore County
  • Urbana Elementary School, Frederick County
  • Fallston Middle School, Harford County
  • Waterloo Elementary School, Howard County
  • Bannockburn Elementary School, Montgomery County
  • Luxmanor Elementary School, Montgomery County

“Each one of these schools is laser-focused on student success, and the results speak for themselves,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “Creative teachers work with engaged and dedicated administrators, parents and the community to develop strong learning environments for their students. We will be proud to nominate these schools for National Blue Ribbon honors.”

The schools will be invited by the U.S. Department of Education to apply to be National Blue Ribbon Schools. With underwriting and gift sponsors, each school will receive a Maryland Blue Ribbon Flag, a monetary prize, $1000 in office supplies, interactive technology equipment, and a school Congratulations Party. A dinner in Annapolis will be held in honor of the winning schools on March 12, 2018. On that date, each Blue Ribbon School will be honored by the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate.

Read the full press release for more information.

Construction Commences on New Hospital in Prince George’s

The University of Maryland Medical System broke ground on the new Capital Region Medical Center in Prince George’s County. State and county officials including Governor Larry Hogan, House Speaker Michael Busch, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker participated in the ground breaking event.

WTOP reports:

The new medical center is expected to open in 2021, and will replace the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, in Cheverly.

The 26-acre site, next to the Arena Drive exit off Interstate 495 in Largo, will include a 600,000-square-foot facility with an 11-story main patient care building, 205 private inpatient rooms and eight operating rooms.

Plans also call for two rooftop helipads, a 20-bed short-stay treatment area, a 45-bay emergency department and a 15-bed specialty pediatric hospital that will be operated by Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, which is co-owned by the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Visit WTOP to learn more.

State’s Rank Rises on Forbes ‘Best States for Business’ List

Maryland is inching closer to the top of Forbes “Best State for Business List” ranking in at number 26 over all. That is up from number 30 last year.

From Bethesda Magazine:

Maryland rose four spots to come in at number 26 on the business publication’s annual “Best States for Business” list this year. Forbes ranks states based on six factors—business costs, labor supply, economic climate, regulatory environment, growth prospects and quality of life. Maryland ranked seventh overall in labor supply, but was outside the top 25 in four other categories and 16th in growth prospects.

The article notes that North Carolina came in first and that West Virginia came in at last.

Read Bethesda Magazine for more information.


Password Protected: Cybersecurity and Your County #MACoCon

Password Protected: Cybersecurity and Your County

Description: How prepared is your county for a cyber attack or data breach? Do you know the
ramifications of such an occurrence—the costs, the liability, and the recovery? Join this
session to hear from leaders in the industry as they cover the threat landscape, consequences
for being unprepared, and your best steps to help minimize risk.

Speaker:  Ryan Spelman, Senior Director, Business Development, Center for Internet Security


  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. The conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #6 – Solar, Solar… Everywhere?

Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires that renewable sources generate specified percentages of Maryland’s electricity supply each year, increasing to 25% by 2020, including 2.5% from solar energy.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Les Knapp discuss the relationship between Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and local governments.

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Senate Continues Tax Reform Tinkering, Vote Expected Friday

On Thursday, the Senate tax reform proposal hit a procedural snag on the chamber floor, delaying action on its final floor vote. The vote is expected to take place on Friday. However, as CNN reports:

Even Republican senators remained unclear about the future of their bill. While most were optimistic the bill would still pass, members acknowledged the uncertainty, joking that they still weren’t set on travel plans to head home for the weekend.

In an effort to assuage Senator Bob Corker’s concerns that the bill would increase the country’s deficit, Senate leadership proposed including a “trigger” in the bill which would automatically increase taxes if the bill failed to generate the economic growth anticipated. However, Thursday evening, the Senate parliamentarian indicated that the proposal violated certain rules and could not be included in the bill as it was. The Senate voted not to recommit the bill to the Finance Committee, but the trigger concept was removed from consideration, placing Senator Corker’s favorable vote in question.

The Senate can afford to lose Senator Corker’s vote – the bill can still pass the Senate even if two Republicans vote against it. It is unclear, however, whether the concern over the deficit will compromise other Republican votes.

Concerns over the costs of the tax cuts further piqued as a new analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released Thursday revealed that the tax package would generate significant economic growth, but add $1 trillion to the budget deficit.

From NACo’s Legislative Update from Thursday evening:

The [House and Senate tax reform proposal] versions share broad similarities: both reduce individual and corporate tax rates, revamp the international tax code and eliminate deductions throughout the tax code. Both bills also add between $1.4 and $1.5 trillion to the U.S. deficit, which Republican leadership insists will be offset by economic growth created by the bill and through entitlement reform next year. There are also difference between the bills: the Senate bill sunsets the individual rate cuts, delays implementation of the lower corporate tax rate and has a larger child tax credit.

Following Senate passage, the two chambers will either enter negotiations to address differences between the two packages, or the House will vote on the final Senate package. Final votes could happen as soon as December 6 or 7.

Although negotiations continue, several county priorities are impacted by both bills:

State and local tax (SALT) deduction: The SALT deduction has existed since the federal tax code was founded in 1913, and is a vital tool protecting state and local tax autonomy.

In the House, H.R. 1 eliminated deductibility of state and local income and sales taxes, but retained a capped property tax deduction of up to $10,000.

In the Senate, initial drafts fully eliminated the SALT deduction. This issue remains under consideration, and the final Senate text could mirror the House bill.

Municipal bonds: Tax-exempt municipal bonds are largely unchanged in each bill. However, both bills could impact advance refunding bonds and private activity bonds.

Advance refunding bonds: Advance refunding bonds allow counties to refinance tax-exempt municipal bonds to save taxpayer money on outstanding debt. Currently, counties can issue one advance refunding bond per municipal bond, which saved local taxpayers $12 billion from 2012 to 2016. Both the House and Senate bills would eliminate advance refunding bonds, increasing infrastructure costs for local governments.

Private activity bonds (PABs): Under current law, PABs are tax-exempt and support major infrastructure projects, including hospitals, universities, seaports and airports. The House bill eliminates the tax-exempt status of PABs, while the Senate bill does not make changes to PABs.





MACo’s Weekly County News & Notes… from Twitter

The social media site Twitter has become a fast-moving setting for news, information, and advocacy on public affairs. We welcome followers of MACo’s own Twitter feed for updates from the Conduit Street blog and other MACo hot topics, and often use Twitter to reach our own audience, and to hear from others following the same issues as county leaders.

Here are some tweets that caught our eye this week:

Follow MACo
Follow Executive Director Michael Sanderson
Follow NACo
See Tweets on #mdpolitics

Public Safety, Voter Registration Among ACLU of Maryland 2018 Priorities





Representatives from MACo and the ACLU of Maryland meet on November 27, 2017, to discuss their respective legislative initiatives for the 2018 Session. A 2018 Session Priorities Handout provided by ACLU Maryland identified six key issues that the organization will focus on:

  1. Election Day Registration (allow voters to register and vote on the same day)
  2. Pre-Trial Justice (preserve existing judicial rules that disfavors cash bail, prohibits unaffordable bail requirements, and prevents bail from being used for public safety)
  3. Taking the Politics Out of Parole (remove the Governor’s role in the parole determination process)
  4. Solitary Confinement (“Restrictive Housing”) Reform (reform the usage and duration of administrative or disciplinary segregation of inmates and mentally ill detainees)
  5. Criminal Justice Reporting (create a task force, including local government representation, that would standardize how race and ethnicity is reported in public safety situations)
  6. Public Funding of Private and Religious Schools (restrict the use of public monies for funding private schools)

The sheet listed a number of secondary issues, such as access to justice and transparency, where the ACLU of Maryland will be active during the 2018 Session. The ACLU of Maryland will certainly take a position on MACo’s Public Information Act (PIA) reform initiative. The group opposed MACo’s PIA body camera initiative in 2016 and 2017 but has worked with MACo on other issues.

ACLU Maryland 2018 Session Priorities Handout

ACLU of Maryland Website

Report Finds Industrial Stormwater Runoff a Serious Problem in Maryland

Bay Journal article (2017-11-16) reported that stormwater runoff from industrial facilities is a threat to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, local waterways, and nearby communities. The finding comes from a recently released report compiled by the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).  The report also criticized how the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) permits and enforces industrial stormwater runoff.

The article noted that more than one-third of permitted industrial facilities exceeded their stormwater pollution limits from 2014 to March of 2017. The report stated that auto salvage yards, scrap metal recyling facilities, and landfills were among the worst sites. Runoff from such sites could include copper, aluminum, zinc, lead, and other pollutants. Wastewater treatment plants could also be significant violators. From the article:

One in seven of the facilities required by the state to report their discharges failed to do so, the groups’ analysis found, and 40 percent of those that did submitted incomplete or partial data. What’s more, the vast majority of facilities weren’t even required to report about their stormwater discharges into local waters. …

The groups blame the “general permit” that [MDE] issues to more than 900 industrial facilities statewide. As the name suggests, its requirements are less specific and often less stringent than what facilities would have to do if they were covered by an individual pollution discharge permit. In fact, only 228 of those facilities were required to conduct and report on quarterly monitoring of their discharges.

The report also found that MDE inspection and enforcement over the time period covered in the report was lacking. Although inspection of industrial sites had during the increased from the period of June, 2016 through June, 2017, the report stated that MDE and the Office of the Attorney General had only take enforcement action against 13 facilities subject to an industrial stormwater permit since 2014. MDE provided this response in the article:


MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles issued a statement in response to the report, saying that his department is “committed to enforcing regulations that protect the environment and public health, including the management of stormwater runoff from industrial sites.”  He explained that the general permit sets numeric “benchmarks” to determine pollutant concentrations in runoff at the edge of a site, but that exceeding those benchmarks is not in itself a violation of the permit or necessarily show how much pollution will reach the Bay. Rather, he said, the benchmarks are indicators of how well stormwater control measures are working, and they let the MDE staff focus on those sites where pollutant levels exceed the benchmarks, to ensure that they are taking steps to control runoff. He did not address why many sites reporting exceedances had not been inspected.

The report called for increased MDE funding by Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly for the hiring and training of inspectors, stronger industrial stormwater permit requirements, industrial sites to monitor their stormwater runoff, and “deterrence-based enforcement” that targets neighborhoods with a concentration of violators.

Report on Toxic Runoff from Maryland Industry (CPR & EIP)

Center for Progressive Reform Website

Environmental Integrity Project Website