MACo Backs Regulation of Short-Term Rentals, Protects Local Autonomy

MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu and MML Director of Government Relations Candace Donoho jointly testified in support with amendments on Senate Bill 463, “Business Regulation – Limited Residential Lodging,” before the Senate Finance and Budget and Taxation Committees on February 22, 2017.

The bill is an effort to regulate the burgeoning market of short-term residential rental arrangements through online intermediaries.  Counties support regulation of the limited residential lodging industry to protect the safety and welfare of their communities, but wish to ensure that any regulatory scheme is developed without unintended consequences that may undermine the benefits.

Specifically, the bill should be amended to ensure that the regulations are not overly burdensome on residents that serve as hosts. The record-keeping obligations and penalties are onerous and could prevent residents from hosting. This may be particularly acute for casual hosts who do not rent out their properties or rooms on a frequent basis. Likewise, the sprinkler requirement, which has been a controversial issue for rural counties in recent years, presents an additional hurdle for hosts.

From MACo testimony:

Counties across the state are currently studying and grappling with how to regulate short-term rentals in the best interest of their diverse and distinct communities. Local governments are best situated to address the specific needs of their communities – particularly in regards to public health, public safety, and zoning matters that have long been within their purview. Accordingly, the bill should be amended to expressly protect the authority of local governments to enact local laws concerning the regulation of short-term rentals and to prevent against state preemption.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo Defends Against Traffic Signal Mandate

MACo Associate Director, Barbara Zektick, provided testimony in support with amendments of Senate Bill 865, “Vehicle Laws – School Zone Crosswalks – Traffic Control Signals,” before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 22, 2017.

This bill requires jurisdictions owning roads in school zones where the speed limit is at least 35 miles per hour to place traffic signals at all marked crosswalks. Further, it prohibits operation of those traffic signals from operating outside of the hours posted on signs designating the school zone.  MACo encouraged the Committee to consider amending this bill to mirror its cross file, House Bill 1199, which authorizes – rather than requires – installation of the subject traffic signals.

From MACo testimony:

Traffic engineers require flexibility in the law to determine the best treatment for any particular location, rather than “one size fits all” mandates which may actually compromise, rather than promote, traffic and pedestrian safety. Furthermore, restricting operation of traffic signals to specific times of day may only cause greater confusion and risk of accidents – particularly in school zones, where traffic may increase after regular school day hours due to after school events.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo Encourages Improvements to Foreclosed Property Registry

MACo Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, provided written testimony in support of House Bill 954, “Foreclosed Property Registry – Updated Information – Notice to Local Governments,” to the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 21, 2017.

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) operates an online, password protected, Foreclosed Property Registry in which every residential property purchased at a foreclosure sale must be registered. This information can be used to facilitate code enforcement, property maintenance, nuisance abatement, law enforcement, and emergency services. HB 954 would require a foreclosure purchaser to update as necessary any information submitted when initially registering the property. Additionally the bill requires DLLR to promptly send a copy of the initial registration and any subsequent updates to the appropriate county or municipality.

From MACo testimony:

These changes expedite and streamline the notification process to ensure that local jurisdictions are in the best position to take action on foreclosed properties that may pose a danger to the community. The local jurisdictions would be spared the time-consuming task of periodically checking the site for updates and having to crosscheck street addresses with county borderlines. Instead, the information would be clearly and promptly provided to the appropriate county authority. It also creates a safeguard against inaccurate or outdated property information.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo Backs Tax Credit to Incentivize Local Internships

MACo Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, provided written testimony in support of Senate Bill 522, “Income Tax Credit – Eligible Employers – Eligible Internships,” to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on February 21, 2017.

SB 522 creates a program that allows businesses to receive a credit against the state income tax for employing eligible interns enrolled in public and private nonprofit higher education institutions in the state. In turn, the interns receive valuable and paid experience in a field that interests them. Counties appreciate that this bill offers a state-funded tax benefit, without a “spillover” residual effect on county revenues and services.

From MACo testimony:

Internships supplement classroom experience by providing students exposure to real-world problems, increasing their marketability to employers, offering opportunities for advancement within organizations, and other professional growth opportunities. Employers benefit from the well qualified pool of potential employees the internships create.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo Endorses Increased Access to Overdose Prevention Medication

MACo Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, provided written testimony in support of House Bill 791, “Overdose Response Program – Prescribing and Dispensing of Naloxone – Noncertificate Holders,” to the House Health and Government Operations Committee on February 21, 2017.

HB 791 authorizes naloxone to be prescribed, dispensed, received, possessed, or administered to an individual that has not received training or certification through an overdose response program. Currently, community members must receive hands-on training and certification through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Overdose Response Program (ORP) in order to receive the life-saving medication without a prescription. The bill will make it easier for community members to have access to naloxone in cases where they are unable to attend a training through the ORP.

From MACo testimony:

Opioid abuse and addiction continues to be a major public health crisis affecting the welfare of millions of people across the nation. In Maryland, opioid-related deaths and usage continue to rise in epidemic proportions. Naloxone is a safe means of saving lives. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help prevent overdoses by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone by blocking opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. It is not a controlled dangerous substance. There are no adverse effects from use nor does it have any potential for abuse, physical dependence, or overdose. It will neither help nor cause harm if used on someone who is not overdosing from opioids.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo Opposes Costly Changes to State Retirement System

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally, provided testimony in opposition to House Bill 344, “State Retirement and Pension System – Disability Retirement and Workers’ Compensation Benefits – Offsets,” before the House Economic Matters Committee on February 21, 2017. Kinnally was joined by Wendy Karpel, Associate County Attorney, Montgomery County in opposition to the bill.

The bill appears to shift costs from the pension/retirement sector to the workers’ compensation sector, which may not affect State costs but would increase costs on local governments. One of the key provisions of HB 344 is the repeal of the ability to offset a workers’ compensation benefit if a person is receiving an ordinary disability payment for the same injury from the State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS). Another appears to result in the shifting of costs between SRPS and the workers’ compensation system.

Currently, the ability to collect both a workers’ compensation payment and a disability retirement payment is a special benefit enjoyed by fire and public safety personnel. The “stacking” of these benefits is costly to local governments. HB 344 would broaden the pool of potential candidates that could stack such benefits.

From MACo testimony:

While such shifting may ultimately be neutral at the State level, as the State pays for both retirement benefits and workers’ compensation for its members, such shifts have a different effect for local governments, which pay for workers’ compensation directly.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

Will You Be Visible & Connected at Summer #MACoCon?

Would you like to do business with Maryland’s counties, state agencies, and nonprofit and commercial organizations involved in the work of local government? BECOME A SPONSOR!

maco-sc17-sponsor-brochure-coverMACo’s Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017. An estimated 2,000 local government officials, county staff decision-makers, legislators, and business representatives will convene at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland for an intensive 4 days of education and partnership-building.

As a sponsor of MACo’s Summer Conference, you will have the opportunity to get your company’s name, products, and services in front of the people you want to reach – decision-makers and stakeholders in local government.

In addition to other benefits listed in our 2017 Summer Conference Sponsorship Brochure, all sponsor information will be displayed on signage, online, in the printed program, and in our mobile app.

Here are several of the many sponsorship opportunities we are offering to help sponsors reach out to MACo’s Summer Conference attendees:

infused-water-bottle Infused Water Station – Provide a healthy refreshment! Our guests will be impressed that your company is the one behind this trendy conference break. MACo will provide fruit-infusing water bottles, water, and fruit for a 2-hour water station. Learn more.
 donuts Donut Break – Help us welcome guests to the Exhibit Hall on Thursday morning with a fun treat! A fun and exciting way to start off our tradeshow, you definitely want to be the one they thank for this! Exhibitors: This is a great way to encourage guests to visit your booth! Greet them at the door and tell them where they can learn more about you and your company! Learn more.
totes Giveaways like Tote Bags & Stylus Pens – Very visible, these items are given to each conference attendee! They’ll be used over and over again in counties all over Maryland after the conference! Learn more.
 crab feast Crab Feast – This is our LARGEST NETWORKING EVENT of Summer Conference – it should not be missed by those companies wishing to do business with Maryland’s local governments! Sponsorship options include the band, ice cream, cups, and beverage carts and stands. Learn more.
 email Daily Conference Email – Help our attendees know what they shouldn’t miss each day of the conference! MACo sends a daily conference email detailing hot topics and updates for each day of the conference. Sponsor’s logo, description and link will be displayed in the body of every email which gets sent to all registrants, exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors. 56% open rate = 1,400+ daily views! Learn more!

Buffet Lunches, All-Day Beverage Stations, Audio/Visual Equipment, and So Much More!

View our 2017 Summer Conference Sponsorship Brochure to see other available options, or contact Outreach Coordinator, Kaley Schultze at kschultze@mdcounties.org.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Questions?

MACo Opposes Statewide Community College Collective Bargaining

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally testified to the House Appropriations Committee on February 21, 2017, in opposition to House Bill 871, Education – Community Colleges – Collective Bargaining.

Counties oppose the one-size-fits-all approach of HB 871, which limits local decision-making.

The move to collective bargaining outlined in this bill could create potentially unsustainable costs for counties, who provide substantial funding for community colleges throughout Maryland – especially since the legislation does not envision any added State support.

From the MACo testimony,

Despite counties’ role in supporting community colleges, this legislation would
not provide any opportunity for county governments to participate in collective bargaining
negotiations. The combination of these effects – State-imposed system and costs, no county
participation in bargaining, and no additional State funding – is simply not affordable as a
statewide county mandate and could present substantial budget difficulties.

MACo opposed identical legislation in past sessions of the General Assembly.

For more on MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session, visit our Legislative Tracking Database.

MACo Supports Grant Funding to Offset Declining Enrollment

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally testified in support of House Bill 684, “Education – Grant for Declining Education Aid,” to the House Appropriations Committee on February 21, 2017.

HB 684 would help to offset the sudden drop-off in education funding to jurisdictions with declining enrollment, ensuring school systems can offer equivalent courses and programs, even with fewer students.

Five Jurisdictions–Baltimore City, Calvert County, Carroll County, Garrett County, and Talbot County–are slated to lose a combined $45M in state education funding in 2018. Baltimore City is the most deeply affected, with a $38m loss in year-to-year total state education funds.

From the MACo testimony,

Counties value public education as a high priority, and an essential service and benefit to the citizens and the economy. State Budgeting formulas and requirements complicate this commitment, especially because nearly all state education funding is distributed on a per-pupil basis, meaning that the more students a school system serves, the more funding it receives.

By contrast, when the number of students declines, schools can experience a sudden drop in funding. This dynamic can strain local budgets – reflecting the reality that not every dollar spent in a school system is truly a “variable cost.” A sudden drop in students across a county school system may mean some cost savings in bus transportation and meals service – but may not have any effect on “fixed costs,” which account for most system-wide expenditures on education and administration.

To learn more about Maryland’s school budgeting formula, read “Why do Five Jurisdictions Lose $45M in Education Funds?” on MACo’s Conduit Street Blog.

For more on MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session, visit our Legislative Tracking Database.

Is civility up for negotiation?

In these days of partisan rhetoric, division within government, and a growing need to work together, it is more important than ever that public officials consider this question.

academylogoGraduates of the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance will have the opportunity to explore the dynamics of civility in government through a new course: Government, Civility, and Negotiation. This one-day session is designed for Academy Graduates – elected and appointed officials of Maryland’s counties and municipalities who are seeking approaches to work more effectively in their communities. This interactive workshop will present a negotiation framework based on the work of Roger Fisher and William Ury.

Captain Mark Adamshick, faculty on leadership and ethics at the US Naval Academy, West Point, and the University of Maryland, will lead participants through case studies and group discussions with the goal of finding methods for negotiation in governance that create atmospheres of respect and collaboration.

To register for the course, participants must be Graduates of the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance. Local government officials with questions about their Academy transcript or status should call the registrar at 301.314.2641 or email her at awashin1@umd.edu.

Details: