SMAR Government Affairs - County, State and Federal Update, Week of July 31

Provided by Theresa Kuhns, SMAR Government Affairs Director

In Calvert County this week, the Commissioners voted 4-0-1 to deny the incorporation of the Chesapeake Ranch Estates and the Lusby town center into "Calvert Shores". This was a multi year effort to create what would have been Calvert's third municipality. The spokesperson for the Calvert Shores Organizing Committee suggested the group will work towards electing commissioners who would let the community vote on this issue via referendum.

Meanwhile, in St. Mary's, a biweekly public task force has begun to determine the effect of the county impact fee, which buckets it should go into and how to create a fair formula moving forward. The group is led by the County finance team and has a mix of various county staff, concerned citizens and community groups including SMAR's Government Affairs Director. Looking at past budgets, population graphing and building permits issued as well as projecting out future new homes and budgets is the current focus to build out the right formula.

Charles County continues to push for land conservation and in a recent presentation shared with the public it includes a goal of preserving 50% of all County lands. After the downzoning of the watershed, a calculation put the county at 32%, which doesn't include the recent motion to donate the tech park near the airport to the Nature Conservancy or Mallows Bay. In addition to controversial land grabs, the county continues to make headlines with a recent Circuit Court case where they took two private citizens to court with the objective to keep taxpayer provided payment information documents confidential to former Commissioner Candice Kelly and former County Attorney Rebecca Bridgett. The Circuit Court ruled against the county and residents anxiously await the release of previously sealed documents.

Around the state, while the legislature is not due back to Annapolis until January, several hearings have taken place throughout the summer. As we reported last week, Maryland REALTORS® testified on a septic panel to continue to keep the current BAT requirements in the critical areas. This week, the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission, comprised of 6 delegates and 6 senators met for the first time with the specific goal to issue legislative recommendations to its colleagues. The larger issue is the number of insurers willing to sell on the current exchange as many have left the MD market - read more here.

Finally, as we all waited this spring to learn of the Federal Government's choice for the new FBI building only to hear the project was on hold, Senator Cardin and colleagues have begun to push for an answer from the GSA and the Trump administration. Gov. Larry Hogan pledged $317 million in infrastructure and traffic improvements to accommodate a new headquarters in Greenbelt and $255 million for a Landover site. The 11,000 FBI families would have been a huge boost to the state from income taxes, real estate industry, transportation improvements to even a brand new joint national security academy for University of Maryland. The proximity of this location to the Southern Maryland region could be a real boom to our economy and specifically, the market- thank you Governor Hogan for making what we see as an easy choice for the GSA.