Each year, G.S. Proctor & Associates compiles for our clients a detailed report analyzing key developments in the legislative process affecting the issues and industries that matter most in the state of Maryland.
Here is a breakdown of this year’s key developments in local government. Select a link below to see additional areas of interest or download a PDF of the full report here.
Just as the General Assembly faced challenges this Session, so did local governments. Counties and municipalities in Maryland appropriated money from the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund to create emergency programs and help struggling Marylanders and businesses in the early days of the pandemic, including increasing access to broadband and providing money for rental relief and eviction prevention.
With in-person gatherings suspended, a number of broadband bills were introduced this Session and particular attention was drawn to Senate Bill 66 / House Bill 97, known as the Digital Connectivity Act of 2021. These cross-filed bills will require the State to establish the Office of Digital Inclusion in the Department of Housing and Community Development. This office would be required to develop a statewide plan by July 1, 2022 to:
- Provide 98% connectivity to universal, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet by December 31, 2025.
- Provide every state resident the ability to connect to universal, reliable, and affordable broadband Internet that exceeds Federal Communications Commission standards for upload and download speeds by December 31, 2026.
The Maryland General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 824 / House Bill 1328, the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Broadband Initiative, known as the Building Out Broadband Act of 2021. This Act will help close the digital divide by enhancing incentives and orchestrating opportunities for broadband deployment across the state. Additional MACo advocacy bills during the 2021 Legislative Session can be reviewed on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.