Frederick County Council Approves 2024 Legislative Package

It now goes to the Legislative Delegation for a hearing next month.

Frederick, Md (KM) Three bills and six position statements from the County Executive, and one bill from the Council are contained in Frederick County’s Legislative Package for 2024 which was unanimously approved Tuesday night by the County Council.

One measure calls for the creation of a para-transit task force to study the needs of  this service, and propose recommendations to adequately fund it.  Victoria Venable, Director of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships with the County Executive’s Office, says TransIT of Frederick County currently operates TransIT Plus which provides transportation to senior citizens and those with disabilities to their medical appointments. “You may know that our senior population is our fastest growing  cohort–it’s  currently our largest cohort. And the expenses that are associated with providing this very crucial service are continuing to grow, but state funding is not,”: she said.

Another bill resulted  from the line-of-duty death of Battalion Chief Joshua Laird in 2021. Venable says a lightning inducted failure of a tube used to deliver propane and methane gas into a home was a contributing factor in Laird’s death. “If your  building was built passed the mid-80’s, you probably have what is called corrugated stainless tubing inside that building. Now, the products can be safe. But what we’re finding is that it is susceptible to some mechanical failure, particularly in response to lightning strikes,”: she says.

The bill in the legislative package would require specific safety requirements for corrugated stainless steel tubing in Maryland.

A third will would allow the state to create its own historic tax credit program. The county is currently under Maryland’s historic preservation tax credit program which is determined by the change in assessed value. Venable says this bill in the Legislative Package would take Frederick County out of the state’s historic preservation tax credit program. If it passes, the County Executive could propose  a  bill to set up an historic tax credit program in  Frederick County..

One of the six position statements supports legislation to allow counties to prohibit landlords from evicting tenants unless it’s for a “just cause.” “Maryland law is silent on what counties are allowed to do in  the  realm of ‘just cause’ evictions,”: says Venable. “This bill is very simply allowing counties to legislate on this if they choose to.”

Another position statement calls on the state to add $600-million for school construction in fiscal year 2025, and add an annual inflationary adjustment beginning in fiscal year 2026. “As you know, we see student enrollment growing fastest here in Frederick County, out of every county across the state by two-fold at least,” she said. “And that means we are facing unique challenges. That’s not only the issue of capacity, but it’s also our aging infrastructure. And those two needs are unique to Frederick County.”

There’s a bill proposed by the County Council in the Legislative Package which would  let  non-profit organizations   allow credit cards  to  be used for on line gaming.

This package heads to the Legislative Delegation which is expected to hold a hearing on Saturday, December 2nd at Winchester Hall beginning at 10:00 AM.

The 2024 Maryland General Assembly begins its  session on January 10th.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved a bill setting up a rustic roads commission. Also, Councilwoman Renee Knapp introduced a bill to provide a tax credit for  residents to establish a home day care center. A hearing is expected at a later date.

A hearing to establish criteria for cannabis dispensaries, and cannabis growing and processing facilities was held on Tuesday night. But no one testified. A vote on this legislation is expected at a later date.

By Kevin McManus