MACo Features Innovations in Education at Winter Conference

Photo: Senator Mac Middleton and Betty Weller, President, Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), Chris Parts, US Green Building Council, Maryland Chapter At the 2013 Winter Conference, MACo featured new programs and initiatives that may create possibilities for more unconventional educational options in Maryland. Panelists engaged in a broad-based discussion of topics that challenge some traditional notions of schooling.  Senator Mac Middleton facilitated the discussion. Val Emrich, Director of Instructional Technology, Maryland State Department of Education…

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Report Ranks the Health of Maryland Counties

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin's Health Institute, have released the second annual report of health rankings for U.S. counties, providing a snapshot of local health conditions. The rankings are determined on a model of population health that emphasizes individual health behaviors, education and jobs, quality of health care, and the environment.  According to the 2011 County Health Rankings report for Maryland the top five healthiest counties are as…

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“Last Day” Issues Wrap Up

As reported yesterday by MACo, a number of issues with county effect remained in play prior to the midnight deadline for the General Assembly session.  Below is an overview of how each of those bills ultimately played out: Maintenance of Effort – As reported yesterday, three bills were awaiting  final action. MACo supported HB 44 and SB 53 as a legislative initiative, to expand and balance the process for considering county MOE waiver requests —and…

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Sine Die – What’s Left??

During the last day of the legislative session, a number of issues with broad county effect remain in play. Here's an abbreviated list: Maintenance of Effort - Three bills await final action, with the time winding down. MACo supported HB 44 and SB 53 as a legislative initiative, to expand and balance the process for considering county MOE waiver requests -- both bills will soon be "stuck" before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Another…

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White House Denies Rumor of Reduced EPA Enforcement Authority

According to a story released by the Associated Press with further comment in the Baltimore Sun's B'More Green blog , the AP is reporting that an unnamed Democratic congressman said the Obama administration is willing to accept curbs on the Environmental Protection Agency possibly even the agency's controversial Chesapeake Bay pollution diet - as part of negotiating federal spending curbs through September. "A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of…

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National Trend: Green Education in Classrooms

Throughout the nation, states are developing “environmental literacy plans” to help improve student understanding of the environment and the impact humans have on it.  Legislation introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed in the last two Congressional sessions and likely to be introduced again this Congress would provide $100 million in annual funding to states for environmental education.  Governing Magazine provides a snapshot of green education efforts :

States promoting environmental education emphasize the need to get students out of the classroom. In Maryland, for example, students visit the Chesapeake Bay to measure the water’s salinity and examine the health of its organisms. “Getting their hands dirty has the greatest impact,”Sarbanes says. “It just gets them excited and engaged.” Sarbanes and other advocates say that student excitement spills over into other areas of academics and helps kids perform better across the board.

Maine, Maryland and Oregon have completed their environmental literacy plans, and another four states will soon, Day says. The policies can be adopted in a variety of ways. Oregon’s, for example, was mandated by the state Legislature. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered his state’s plan, and Maine’s plan was developed administratively. The plans don’t focus on detailed curriculum requirements. Instead, they provide broad themes the states should cover. Oregon’s plan, for example, discusses the need for students to “understand the physical and biological world, and our interdependent relationship with it.”

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MACo Opposes Broad Ban on Septic Development

A MACo panel testified in opposition to House Bill 1107 and Senate Bill 846, before the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 11.  The bills, sponsored by Delegate Steve Lafferty and Senator Paul Pinsky embody Governor Martin O'Malley's State of the State proposal to ban the use septic systems in major subdivisions.  The bills, entitled the "Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2011," would prohibit the use of septic systems on…

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Senate Finance Committee Passes Renewable Energy Legislation Supported by MACo

MACo submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on March 8 in support of Senate Bill 690 which would expand the definition of a Tier 1 renewable energy source to include waste-to-energy facilities in the State's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.   Currently, waste-to-energy facilities are in a less favorable Tier 2 category.   Tier 1 renewable energy sources include wind, solar power, and geothermal energy.  There are 3 waste-to-energy plants in the State certified as Tier…

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Governor’s Septics Proposal – Heading for Study? Or Showdown?

Today's Baltimore Sun discusses the "roadblock" facing the Governor's proposed limits on septic-based development, as the Chair of the House's Environmental Matters Committee has suggested that the bill be referred for more complete study over the interim. However, contrary to some earlier reports (and the discussion at MACo's Legislative Committee yesterday), it now appears that the Governor will continue to press for the bill's passage in this year's legislative session. From the Sun coverage: Del.…

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NACo Launches Green Government Database

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has launched a Green Government Database as a resource for county officials on successful county sustainability programs, plans, policies and capital projects. Highlighted case studies include those related to county:  sustainability management  energy efficiency  renewable energy generation  green building green jobs economic development  air quality  green fleets  green purchasing local food systems  smart land use  water conservation and waste management Click here to access the database.

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