“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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House and Senate Conferees Complete Work on the FY 2012 Budget

House and Senate budget conferees have completed their work to resolve the differences in each chamber’s respective FY 2012 budget plan (HB 70/ HB 72).  It is anticipated that both chambers will pass the revised budget by Friday. As reported by the Washington Post, both sides have resolved differences over State employee and teacher pensions and retiree health care. Under that compromise, state retirees will see their maximum out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs more than…

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Session Update: Parks and Recreation Legislation

This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo either considered or took a position on. Concussion Education and Treatment:  HB 1, HB 858, and SB 771 are similar bills that require school systems and youth sports programs to provide information about concussions to athletes, their parents or guardians, and coaches.  An athlete suspected of having a concussion or other head injury must be pulled from practice or play until cleared by a licensed health care provider. …

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Senate Budget Committee Approves Budget Plan: Rejects Pension Shift, Agrees To One-Time Funding for Local Roads

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee approved its plan to modify the Governor's 2012 proposed budget, concurring with a large number of the actions taken by the House.  As a part of their plan, the Senate Committee concurred with the House to restore funding for education, rejected a Department of Legislative Services (DLS) recommendation to transfer 50 percent of teacher retirement expenses to the local boards of education, and concurred with a one-time payment of…

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Appropriations Committee Approves Budget Plan: Rejects Pension Shift, Finds One-Time Funding for Local Roads, Reduces Assessment Shift

After a marathon 9 hour decision meeting, the House Appropriations Committee approved its plan to modify Governor O' Malley's proposed FY 2012 budget.  As a part of their plan the House Committee restored funding for education, raised motor vehicle titling and vanity plate fees to generate revenue for transportation, and modified other program reductions and transfers. The Committee also took actions to change retiree health benefits and modify the employee and teacher pension systems. The…

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MACo-Supported Bill Giving Local Governments More Flexibility for Use of POS Funds Passes Senate

The Senate passed Senate Bill 421, a bill MACo supported which would give added flexibility to uses of Program Open Space (POS) funding for jurisdictions reaching approved land acquisition targets. Under the current POS law and practice, counties submit a local Land Preservation and Recreation Plan (LPRP), including land acquisition targets. If a jurisdiction is certified by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Planning, that it has achieved the goals set…

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MACo Seeks Amendments to Student Athlete Concussion Prevention bill

On March 9, MACo supported with amendments,  Senate Bill 771 sponsored by Senator Joan Carter Conway, before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.  MACo's Parks and Recreation Affiliate Chair and Talbot County Parks and Recreation Director, Rick Towle,  Howard County Recreation and Parks  Director John Byrd and Allan Harden, Superintendent of Sports, Howard County Recreation and Parks, suggested amendments to each bill to address problematic implementation issues for volunteer-run athletic programs, in terms of…

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MACo Winter Conference Session-The Economics of Parks and Recreation

Local parks, recreational facilities and protected open spaces help make your community a desirable place to live, work and visit.   Your Parks and Recreation departments are a driver for economic development and they offer an exceptional array of services at little to no cost to your citizens.  While state funding for local acquisition and recreation projects has been cut severely and future funding is uncertain, and local departments are being asked to do more with…

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Debate Continues on Safety of Artificial Turf Fields

An August 27 Gazette article highlights the ongoing debate about the safety of artificial turf fields for both people and the environment. Depending on who is talking, synthetic turf fields are either the environmentally sound wave of the future or a yet-to-be-fully known threat to humans and the Earth.  ... As the debate goes on, federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, still are measuring the risks that might be posed by direct and environmental…

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County Governments Help Develop Two New Online Interactive Trail Maps – Check them out!

The Maryland Department of Transportation has released a new online tool of a comprehensive interactive trails map.  In response to growing interest in trails, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) led a comprehensive interagency planning effort to develop a long-term strategic plan to guide the implementation of a s trail network throughout the State. Many county governments, and in particular, experts from Parks and Recreation departments, worked intensely with the state over the past year…

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