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Join MML's Lunch and Learn Webinar: Legislative Wrap Up

Join MML for a Lunch and Learn: Legislative Wrap Up webinar on the Maryland General Assembly’s 2024 legislative session.

Gain insights from our esteemed panelists as we discuss MML's legislative objectives, the Maryland state budget, and other important municipal issues and information.

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EPA Announces Final Regulatory Determinations for PFAS

On April 10, 2024, the EPA announced the final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS. The NPDWR establishes legally enforceable levels, called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for six PFAS in drinking water: PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA as contaminants with individual MCLs, and PFAS mixtures containing at least two or more of PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS using a Hazard Index MCL to account for the combined and co-occurring levels of these PFAS in drinking water. EPA also finalized health-based, non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) for these PFAS. 

The final rule requires:

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Cannabis Legislation

HB 805 made alterations to aspects of the adult-use cannabis law that pertain to land use; MML supported amendments were adopted. The changes include:

  • Adding places of worship to the list of pre-existing properties that may not be located within 500 feet of a dispensary.
  • Increasing the distance a local government may set between dispensaries from 1,000 feet to half a mile.
  • Allowing local governments to set the distance a dispensary may operate from a residential zone to up to 100 feet or the same distance from a residential zone required for alcohol retail stores. 
  • Prohibiting local governments from adopting an ordinance that places zoning requirements on dispensaries that are more burdensome than those placed on alcohol retail stores. 
  • Clarifying that there is a restriction on local governments regarding zoning requirements only for certain exclusively outdoor growers.
  • Adding a complaint process against dispensaries.

Another bill made changes to the cannabis law beyond land use. HB 253 alters a drafting error in the law and clarifies that the local government where an on-site consumption facility is planning to locate sets the laws and policies that govern that on-site consumption facility.

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Transportation Legislation

Local governments will soon have the authority to permit the use of golf carts on certain roads in their jurisdiction per the passage of HB 43 / SB 316, which was supported by MML There are certain criteria that must be met in order for the golf cart to operate and for the local government to designate certain road segments for golf cart use.

"Exhibition driving" is now a defined term and is prohibited on public roads in the State, as a result of the passage of HB 601 / SB 442. MML Municipalities may also designate a "special event zone" for certain automotive events that occur on a roadway, which allows additional safety measures to be put in place such as signage, traffic control devices, and a reduction in the speed limit.

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MML Speed Camera Priority Update

MML's priority bill, HB 282, as passed by the House would have permitted municipalities that do not maintain a police force to use a technician, as opposed to a law enforcement officer, to review speed camera images and sign the citations.

The bill garnered significant support but failed to receive a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee before the close of the General Assembly Session.

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MML Priority Tourism Zones Legislation Passed; Awaiting Governor Moore’s Signature

(April 4, 2024) Annapolis, Md. The Maryland Municipal League (MML)’s priority legislation enabling Maryland’s 157 municipalities to establish Tourism Zones, SB 14 (Sen. Michael A. Jackson) and HB 1281 (Del. Wayne A. Hartman), received final passage yesterday. The bill is now awaiting Governor Moore’s signature, after sharing his support for the concept at MML’s Fall Conference in 2023.  

In addition to allowing local jurisdictions to self-designate the boundaries of a tourism zone, the bill provides the authority to establish definitions for tourism businesses, provide certain local incentives, and set qualifications. Incentives can include real property tax credits, personal property tax credits, and exemption from local Admission and Amusement taxes.

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Employer and Personnel Legislation

More modifications were made to the State's Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program in HB 571 / SB 485, a bill supported by MML with amendments. The first change is that the implementation of the program is pushed back: claims open now on July 1, 2026 (delayed from January 1, 2026) and for those employers that plan to use the State plan, mandatory contributions begin on July 1, 2025 (delayed from October 1, 2024). Secondly, for those employers that plan to use a third-party insurer, the State will levy an application fee to cover administrative costs.

With the passage of HB 649 / SB 525, all employers in the State will now need to include the wage range and benefits associated with a position when publishing a job posting. Onerous provisions relating to employer liability were removed via amendment, leaving only small fines for non-compliance. 

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Updates on Legislation with State and Local Budget Implications

The following legislation has budgetary implications for Maryland municipalities and was passed or died in the last week of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2024 session.

Budget/BRFASB 360/HB 350 & SB 362/HB 352 (Passed) – As passed by the Senate in early March, this year’s budget and accompanying Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) would have reduced local Highway User Revenues (HUR) in FY 26 & FY 27. MML and MACo pushed back against the need to codify those out-year reductions in this year’s budget. The House of Delegates also pushed back and identified some new revenue sources to fund transportation and education moving forward. The compromise deal resulted in an additional $350 million for the State which allows for HURs to be fully funded.  

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Housing Legislation

HB 538, the Governor's Housing Expansion bill, passed with several amendments. This bill requires local jurisdictions to allow (1) new manufactured homes and modular dwellings in zones that allow single-family residential uses and (2) increased densities and uses in specified zoning areas for “qualified projects” (which include specified amounts of affordable housing). The bill prohibits a local jurisdiction from imposing unreasonable limitations or requirements on a qualified project or requiring a qualified project to be reviewed at more than a specified number of public hearings. The bill also establishes a Historic Property Revitalization Director within the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The bill takes effect January 1, 2025.

HB 693, the Governor's Renters' Rights and Stabilization bill, also passed with amendments. This measure increases the cost of filing eviction and other landlord-tenant cases in court. The bill also establishes the Office of Tenant and Landlord Affairs (OTLA) in the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), extends the period between granting judgment for possession in favor of a landlord and the execution of the warrant of restitution, establishes a tenant’s right of first refusal (and an exclusive negotiation period) prior to the sale of certain residential rental property, and expands the categories of eviction data that must be collected by the Judiciary and provided to DHCD.

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Now Accepting 2025 Legislative Action Requests

While the 2024 legislative session nears its conclusion Sine Die, it's never too early to start thinking about next year!

Is there a legislative matter that your municipality, chapter or department would like to see considered as an MML Legislative Priority for the 2025 Legislative session? Complete the 2025 Legislative Action Request (LAR) form by May 31.

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MML Speed Camera Priority has Senate Hearing

MML's priority bill, HB 282, had its hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 26, after passing through the House chamber. As a result of amendments added by the House the bill now allows municipalities that do not maintain a police force to use a trained technician, as opposed to a law enforcement officer, to review speed camera images and sign citations. MML will continue to advocate for passage of this legislation through the Senate. For questions, please contact Bill Jorch, [email protected].

 

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MML Tourism Zones and Speed Camera Legislation Pass Senate and House Ahead of Critical Deadline

(March 19, 2024) Annapolis, Md. Ahead of the crossover deadline, two Maryland Municipal League (MML) priority bills passed out of their original chambers. Approved by the House on Saturday, HB 282 would enable more municipalities to utilize speed cameras by allowing those without a police department to utilize trained technicians to review the images and sign citations. HB 1281, cross-filed with SB 14, which would grant local governments the authority to create tourism zones and provide local incentives, advanced through the House on Monday, March 18. 

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Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability

The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) was established in 2012 to give students “real life” experience and provide Maryland communities access to the University of Maryland’s expertise in fields ranging from health care, planning, real estate finance, environmentalism, information technology, and more.

Students address issues like municipal service provision and management, economic development, environmental shifts, park and streetscape design, transportation operations, and more in their coursework. Projects have included the cost-effectiveness of LED streetlights and implementation plan, an examination of micro-mobility and safe routes to school, the feasibility of expanding a local airport, and other real, practical projects with an emphasis on scheduling, best practices, implementation, and monitoring.

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New Protect Local Waterways Website

This Friday, March 22, is World Water Day.  Celebrate by reading up on how you can protect the streams and waterways that run through your community.

Protect Local Waterways is a new award-winning web resource on how local leaders can help support the economy, public health, education, and infrastructure while protecting their communities' environmental assets. Created by local officials for local officials, this website includes an extensive learning library spanning 11 environmental topics. From understanding the benefits of trees to building community buy-in on environmental behaviors, this learning library is the perfect place to start. Take action today to secure fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water for your municipality. Visit our website.  

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Biden-Harris Administration Announces $3.3 Billion in Grants To ‘Repair the Harm Caused By Infrastructure Choices Of The Past’

This week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced $3.33 billion in grant awards for 132 projects through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot and Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant programs as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. The funding is for communities that were cut off by transportation infrastructure years ago that left many neighborhoods without direct access to opportunities such as schools, places to worship, medical offices, and jobs.

The Department of Transportation is awarding 72 Planning grants, 52 Capital Construction grants, and 8 Regional Planning grants.

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MML Positions on Legislation

View MML's positions on legislation introduced in the General Assembly.

Each week the MML legislative committee, made up of elected municipal leaders and municipal staff, reviews General Assembly bills that have impact on the operations of municipal government. Check back as new bills are added to the list each week.

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MML Supported Transportation Bills Moving in General Assembly

Now that we are more than halfway through the General Assembly session, bills are starting to move. Below are a few transportation-related bills, supported by MML, all of which have already received favorable reports by their respective committees and passed out of their chamber of origin. 

HB 43 - This bill is slightly amended from the version initially introduced and now includes a few additional guardrails. It now allows local governments to designate roads under their jurisdiction as roads on which golf carts may operate, under certain conditions; the road must be 30 MPH or lower and the golf cart must operate only between dawn and dusk unless it has State Highway Administration (SHA) approved lights, drive on the far right of the lane, and contain no more passengers than there are seats. This new authority would allow a new and unique transportation option to local governments.

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MML Priority Tourism Zone Legislation Hearing - Thursday 2/29

MML’s priority legislation, HB 1281, to allow municipalities to self-designate Tourism Zones will be heard in the House Ways & Means Committee on Thursday, February 29.

Modeled off a successful program in Virginia, this MML priority bill would authorize local governments to provide an array of local tax credits or waivers to businesses that aid in expanding tourism. This program would not only bolster the ability of jurisdictions to attract and retain community-oriented businesses, especially for those that lack access to other incentive programs, but to directly expand the State’s general revenue fund and attract new visitors to Maryland.

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MML Priority Bill to Authorize Tourism Zones moves in Senate

League priority bill SB 14 has received a favorable with amendment report from the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee ahead of the important crossover deadline. The crossfile, HB 1281, has been voted out of its subcommittee and is expected to have a vote in the full House Ways and Means committee soon.

As a refresher, these bills would enable Maryland’s 157 municipalities to establish Tourism Zones, bringing in new visitors, future residents and helping to attract new tourism-related business to cities, towns, and villages across the state. For more information and a recap on the hearing, please see our press release.

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Senate Report on Budget Rejects Major HUR Cuts

On the heels of yet another $250 million revenue writedown, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee’s budget report voted on Friday, March 8 did not adopt a recommendation to cut local Highway User Revenues (HURs) to 9.6% indefinitely.

Local governments currently receive 15.6% of Highway User Revenues, 2.4% of which is dedicated to municipalities. That figure was scheduled to increase due to MML priority legislation passed a few years ago. The DLS recommended cut to 9.6% is consistent with the major cuts made in 2009 that saw municipalities receive just 0.4%.

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