Legislative Initiatives

Visit this page during the Legislative Session to read the progress on MACo's Legislative Initiatives. If you have questions about an initiative or any bill impacting county government (not including local bills), please contact the MACo Staff member assigned to that bill. A staff member is assigned to every bill that the Association follows. 

Use MACo's legislative tracking database to search MACo's bill positions and staff assignments.

By its bylaws, MACo is required to select four legislative initiatives as a focus for each Maryland General Assembly Session. The membership submits dozens of issues for consideration as initiatives. MACo's Legislative Committee members then review, analyze, and discuss these proposals through a months-long process until they narrow the list to four initiatives. MACo's Legislative Committee takes positions on hundreds of bills throughout the Session, but these four issues serve as the Association's priorities for the year.

2020 MACo Legislative Initiatives

2020 LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES

SCHOOL FUNDING – FUNDING FAIRNESS, COUNTY ROLE

The 2020 Session will feature a generational debate about school funding, outcomes, and expectations. Along with a new state commitment to education through broad formulas and targeted programs, the legislation will likely oblige new county resources toward these goals. MACo advocates for adequate, fair, and reasonable funding for all of Maryland’s students, and urges State policymakers to sustain a robust level of public education funding without unduly burdening county budgets or slighting other essential local services. Any newly-identified or authorized revenue sources developed with school funding in mind should support both the state and local efforts to meet education goals. 

The State and counties should work as true partners in fairly supporting new goals for our public school systems. 

STRONG PROGRESS FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

The State’s commitment to school construction funding needs to remain strong – to best serve the modern needs of our schoolchildren, educators, and communities. State funding needs to recognize modern cost factors as we achieve new environmental and energy standards, satisfy heightened needs for technology, ensure student safety, fulfill community resource needs, and integrate evolving teaching methods. County governments share responsibility for financing K-12 school construction with the State, whose funding depends on statutory formulas and regulations. MACo advocates reviewing and updating the State's school funding formulas and guidelines to promote the smartest and most effective funding for modern schools. 

Counties urge State policymakers to retain the State’s strong commitment to this top funding priority.  

NEXT STEPS IN THE DRUG AND MENTAL HEALTH CRISES

Substance use disorders and mental illness remain two of the most pressing health issues for every county in Maryland. Local Health Departments are the “first responders” for public health emergencies, including these crises, but have been forced to do more with much less after significant state Core Funding cuts. As a result of this and similar budgetary issues, county jails have become de facto mental health institutions. It is critical that all types of behavioral health treatment and recovery services are available both in the community and the jail system to meet local needs on demand, and that comprehensive efforts continue to build upon the limited but encouraging progress that has been made. 

MACo advocates for unwavering vigilance and State partnership in support of innovative and  gap-filling behavioral health initiatives that improve access and availability of services, resources, facilities, and staff. 

REPEAL “IMPLIED PREEMPTION” COURT DOCTRINE

Maryland courts have adopted, albeit inconsistently, a novel theory of State preemption over local actions – finding that counties may be preempted even without any State law explicitly stating so. This principle was used years ago to invalidate multiple local tobacco regulations, and more recently on local pesticide restrictions and land use decisions for energy facilities. 

Legislation should clarify, prospectively, that preemption should not take place in the courts, but in the open and accessible lawmaking process, where all stakeholders may be heard on the merits of their arguments.