Governor Larry Hogan Delivers Closing Address at Maryland Association of Counties Summer Conference
Highlights Administration Commitment to Local Jurisdictions, Promotes Initiatives to Continue Moving Maryland Forward
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today delivered the closing address of the 2016 Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) summer conference in Ocean City. After spending the past 19 months traveling across the state and meeting with local governments, constituents, and business owners, the governor highlighted the significant progress already made and discussed new initiatives to continue moving the state forward.
“The Maryland Association of Counties has been an incredible partner for our administration, and we will continue to do everything we can to foster that partnership,” said Governor Hogan. “We have spent much of the past year traveling from one end of the state to the other to hear the concerns of all Marylanders, and I’m pleased to update you on some of the progress our team has been making to ensure that our counties can continue to thrive.”
Governor Hogan discussed real solutions that the administration has promoted to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland’s most precious natural resource. In 2015, the Hogan administration established enhanced Phosphorus Management Tool regulations, bringing the agricultural and environmental communities together with a fair and balanced plan for limiting phosphorus levels. This year, the administration invested $53 million in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, the highest level of funding since the Fund was established. Governor Hogan’s FY 17 budget was also the first in state history that did not divert funding dedicated specifically for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay to the general fund.
“We have been focused on finding real solutions to protect our most treasured natural asset — the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Hogan. “We brought all the stakeholders together and negotiated a compromise phosphorus management solution, we pushed for and enacted legislation that protects against any further raids of program open space, and we are finally doing something about the problem of sediment from the Conowingo Dam.”
Based on feedback from Maryland jurisdictions and constituents, Governor Hogan discussed two actions that will provide relief to Maryland citizens. In 2012, a mandate to require BAT septic systems outside the Critical Area created a cost-prohibitive burden on Maryland homeowners and businesses. During his address, the governor announced that the Maryland Department of the Environment has revisited these regulations and eliminated the requirements outside the Critical Area, ensuring that environmental safeguards remain in place while reducing an unnecessary regulatory burden.
The governor also updated local officials about a decision made earlier this week at the Board of Public Works to split the cost of new voting machines between the state and counties, funding which had been requested by MACo in a recent letter to the Hogan administration.
“We heard your calls loud and clear to take action on these issues and will deliver this much needed relief,” said Governor Hogan. “Looking ahead, our administration will continue to fight to eliminate those taxes and regulations that stifle the economy in our counties.”
In addition, Governor Hogan reiterated the administration’s commitment to improving transportation infrastructure across the state, including restoring Highway User Revenues and repealing a new law that threatens the longstanding tradition of local governments deciding transportation project priorities.
The Hogan administration has invested $2 billion in new transportation projects across the state and has fought to return Highway User Revenues to past levels after being severely reduced by the previous administration. The governor stressed that this new law, passed by the legislature over his veto, has the potential to erode this progress and kill many of the counties’ priority transportation projects.
“We have heard your concerns regarding transportation infrastructure, and invested an historic and unprecedented $2 billion in new transportation projects to fix every single structurally deficient bridge in the state and to finally move forward on your top priority road projects,” said Governor Hogan. “Regrettably, the legislature overrode a veto to push a bill forward that has the potential to kill nearly all of these priority road and bridge improvements. On your behalf, our administration will continue to push for the repeal of this terrible legislation.”
Finally, the governor called for continued partnership between state and local governments to sustain the progress that has been made since January 2015.
“We have made amazing progress since January 2015, but to continue on this new path we will need the help of everyone in this room,” said Governor Hogan. “You have my commitment that with our administration you will always find a sympathetic ear and a seat at the table, and we will continue to fight on behalf of your citizens each and every day.”
Governor Hogan has spent the past two days on the Eastern Shore, where he has attended MACo events, met with county officials, toured local businesses, and visited with Maryland citizens.