Wow. What a sesssion! 2,817 bills were introduced and 834 were passed,
including 3 of our 4 transportation bills and a strong Program Open Space bill. Thank you to the members of the General Assembly who worked hard on these and other important bills. And thanks to all of our friends who contacted their legislators to support bills to make Maryland a better place.
Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016 HB1013 PASSED! State transportation funds should be spent on projects that create access to jobs, reduce congestion, and support a healthy environment. The proposed bills establish goals and measures for scoring transportation projects. An objective process for reviewing and ranking projects will greatly improve transparency and accountability. After passing in both chambers, the Governor vetoed the bill. Thankfully, the legislature succeeded in overriding the veto!
MTA Oversight and Planning Board HB1010 PASSED! This bill will increase effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability to the people and local governments served by MTA. An empowered board that includes transit riders will improve MTA's ability to identify and implement the improvements needed to bring our transit service into the 21st century.
Commuter Tax Benefit HB1012 PASSED! The Maryland Commuter Tax Credit program has not kept pace with increased carpool expenses and increased MTA, MARC, and DC Metro fares. The proposed bill increases the credit to $100 per month per employee and reduces carpool eligibility to 6 riders. These improvements will encourage more employers to participate in the program and help ease congestion in our metro areas.
Program Open Space -Transfer Tax Repayment - Use of Funds HB462 PASSED! Program Open Space funding has routinely been diverted to unrelated programs. These bills promise full funding for Program Open Space by 2019 and repayment of all diverted funds by 2029. The result is $270 million more for this critical program that provides funding for preservation of farmland and open space, and creation of parks and playgrounds. The bill has been signed into law by the Governor.
Frederick County DRRA Appeal Rights SB859 PASSED! In 2013, Frederick County residents were stripped of their right to appeal a DRRA to the county Board of Appeals and to the appeals courts. These rights have been restored, putting Frederick back in line with other counties that use DRRAs.
Fairbox Recovery Rate Repeal HB0891 / SB1035 NOT THIS YEAR, BUT WE ARE GOING TO TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR! The farebox recovery requirement for the Maryland Transit Administration is a strong disincentive for investing in transit. Expenses like maintenance, cleaning, and training operators increase operating costs – making it harder to meet the 35% farebox recovery requirement – but are essential to having a well-operated system.
Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act – Application HB1428 / SB0748 DEFEATED! These bills extend by 5 years a key “grandfathering” milestone in the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 and, in doing so, undermine the Act. Major residential developments on septic systems proposed for areas dominated by farmland, forest, and open space were given until October 2016 to obtain preliminary subdivision plan approval – a fair deadline that should
Sediment Control Violations - Enforcement SB0812 / HB1240 DEFEATED! These bills require the Maryland Department of the Environment to deliver three separate warning notices and provide an opportunity for corrective action before imposing a penalty when a developer fails to control runoff from a construction site. Polluted runoff from construction sites impairs local rivers and streams. Weak enforcement of rules controlling sediment runoff from construction sites is unacceptable.