Officials are interested in bills dealing with transportation, jobs, budget shifts.
Frederick, Md. (KM) Frederick County officials are keeping a close eye on many issues before the 2017 Maryland General Assembly.
During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner said the county is seeking to gain its fair share of the State Highway user funds. “When these monies were shifted several years ago during the recession to help balance the state budget, Frederick County lost over $13-million in revenue on an annual basis. That’s a lot of money which we have not been able to completely back fill,” she says.
The County uses that money, which comes from gas tax and vehicle registration revenues, to pay for road maintenance, capital improvements and snow removal.
“We have supported a bill that has been heard in committee on March 7th. It was Senate bill 586–Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland Act. We have supported the need basically to insure that local funding stream for infrastructure for our roads,” says Gardner.
Related to that, Gardner says the county supports a bill to provide funding to finish up the I-270/US 15 Multi-Modal Study. “We know 270 is the most congested major highway in the state of Maryland. It’s also our biggest economic engine corridor in the state. And we need a relatively small amount of money to finish the environmental impact so that this project can move forward to qualify for federal funding,” she says.
On the topic of jobs, County Executive Gardner says the county is supporting legislation which would help Flying Dog Brewery and other craft breweries around Maryland. House Bill 1420 would increased the amount of beer craft brewers can serve in their tap rooms from 500 barrels to 4,000 barrels on a yearly basis.
However, Guinness plans to open a craft brewery in Baltimore County, and House Bill 1391 would allow it serve up to 5,000 barrels of beer annually in its tap room.
Gardner says the county is watching how both these bills progress through the General Assembly. “We want to make sure this industry has a level playing field across the state with the same rules for brewers at different levels who operate on-premise production and sales facilities that ensure required public health and safety, but also give consumers choices,” she says.
On other issues, the county is opposed to taking funding away from Local Management Boards, the Frederick County Office of Children and Families and services for children, such as after school programs. It’s also battling attempts by the state to balance its budget by making the county fund highway and road maintenance, police aid, the Health Department and the state assessments office.
Gardner says the county supports a bill to give local governments better tools to deal with blighted and abandoned properties, and a ban on fracking in Maryland.
The County Executive says she travels to Annapolis a few days a week, but Roger Wilson, the County’s Government Affairs and Public Policy Director, is usually in Maryland’s capital just about every day.
The General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die on Monday, April 10th at 12-midnight.
By Kevin McManus