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Montgomery County Receiving About $195 Million from State

2017-04-11

by Douglas Tallman

Montgomery County can look back on the 2017 General Assembly and see dollar signs.

In total, about $195 million in state money will be supporting assorted county projects, said Melanie Wenger, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations.

The money includes about $56 million in school construction, a total that has an expected extra $10 million from a fund for jurisdictions experiencing enrollment growth, Wenger said.

“For the county, obviously the increase in school construction funding was our No. 1 priority and a No. 1 get from the county perspective,” said Del. Marc Korman, a Bethesda Democrat.

Montgomery College also should get around $13.5 million across all three campuses, with $8.9 million for a student services center at the Rockville campus, $2.5 million for the Science and Applied Studies Building in Germantown, and $2.1 million the Math and Science Center at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.

The county also will benefit from $41 million in the capital budget that’s going toward the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Wenger said.

A grape-crushing facility, which will help local wineries, will receive $1 million from the state, Del. Kirill Reznik of Germantown said.

On policies, the General Assembly passed sick leave legislation, an important issue for Montgomery County. The county has required essentially all businesses to provide sick leave to employees, and the state legislation allows the county to keep its sick leave laws in place. Under the state bill, businesses with at least 15 employees must provide sick leave and smaller businesses must still provide job protections, Bethesda’s Del. Ariana Kelly said.

The legislature approved a fracking ban.

“A lot of the work we did was to do an end run around these games that are being played on the national level,” Kelly said.

For example, the General Assembly preserved funding for Planned Parenthood if the federal government defunds the organization.

Attorney General Brian Frosh has been empowered to sue the Trump Administration, on issues such as the President Trump’s travel ban.

And the legislature took steps to preserve the health care of people on Obamacare.

“A lot of people in Maryland have health care because of the Medicaid enhancement or the Obama exchanges,” Korman said.

Kelly said legislation on opioid prevention would make Maryland a national leader. The Hope Act gives local health departments the tools to set up opioid crisis centers. And the Start Talking Maryland Act works with schools to add a opioid drug addiction curriculum.

The session started as Gov. Larry Hogan called on lawmakers to repeal a bill that they said increased transparency in funding transportation projects. Hogan insisted it would kill projects across the state.

The legislature fashioned a compromise.

“I think at the end of the day we all agreed to take a breath and the governor, at least it’s my hope, will stop pretending the bill we passed was going to kill every road project,” Reznik said.

The measure would give the state Department of Transportation time to study a scoring system.

“We’re not here to constantly yell at each other. We decided to be the mature party his in this. We’re going to provide you with the tools that you say you need. Let’s see what you can come up with,” Reznik said.

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