Per Montgomery County: The Montgomery County Council will meet on Tuesday, November 15 at 9 a.m. The meeting will begin with a proclamation, presented by Councilmember Craig Rice, recognizing the Councilmember for a Day winner. The afternoon session will begin at 1:15 p.m. with a proclamation presentation by Council President Gabe Albornoz and Councilmember Rice recognizing Arva Jackson. More detail on each agenda item is provided below.
Review: The Council will review Bill 13-22, Buildings – Comprehensive Building Decarbonization, which would require the County Executive to issue all-electric building standards for new construction, major renovations and additions by Jan. 1, 2024.
All-electric building standards will help the County achieve its zero-greenhouse gas emissions goal by ensuring future construction is electrified. Exemptions would be provided for emergency backup systems and certain uses such as manufacturing, crematories, life sciences and commercial kitchens. In addition, income restricted housing and schools will have an extended timeline.
The lead sponsor is Councilmember Hans Riemer. Councilmember Will Jawando is a cosponsor. A vote is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29.
Introduction: The Council is expected to introduce Bill 32-22, which would divide the position of County Health Officer and Chief of Public Health into two separate positions within the County. Currently this is a single position within the County. The leads sponsor is the Council President, at the request of the County Executive. A public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2023.
Introduction: Lead sponsor Councilmember Andrew Friedson will introduce Bill 33-22 Capital Improvements Program – Affordable Housing Feasibility Study – Required, which would require the County Executive to submit an affordable housing feasibility study to the Council for certain capital projects and establish a review process for the Council to determine project feasibility for colocation of affordable housing.
Introduction: The Council will introduce Expedited Bill 34-22, which would amend Chapter 49 Section 31(a)(2) to correct the list of town center areas. On Oct. 25, 2022, the Council approved Bill 24-22 Complete Streets, which established design parameters for various types of streets and roads within five area types. Expedited Bill 34-22 would include additional areas on the town center list and more precisely define additional town centers.
Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Bill 27-22, Administration – Inspector General – Powers and Duties, which would update outdated sections of the Montgomery County Code to comply with state law changes and empower the County’s inspector general to align budget requests to work plan items. It also explicitly mandates the ability to conduct compliance audits and clarifies that all employees must comply with information or document requests from the inspector general. Additionally, it provides protection for anyone, including residents, against retaliation for making a report to the inspector general.
Under Maryland law, the investigatory authority for both the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and WSSC Water rests with their inspector generals. Montgomery County’s inspector general lacks authority over these bi-county agencies based on the County’s successful advocacy at the state level for dedicated oversight. The proposed language in the bill reflects this reality.
Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Expedited Bill 21-22, Weapons – Firearms in or Near Places of Public Assembly, which would prohibit the possession of firearms in or near places of public assembly, with certain exemptions. In addition, the bill would remove an exemption that allows individuals with certain handgun permits to possess handguns within 100 yards of a place of public assembly.
The goal of this bill is to reduce gun violence in Montgomery County. The lead sponsor is Council President Albornoz. All other Councilmembers are cosponsors.
In the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision of New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen, Superintendent of new York State Police, the Supreme Court overturned a requirement of New York’s handgun carry law. The New York law had required an applicant for a handgun carry license to show proper cause for the license, and the Supreme Court held that the requirement violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. The Court explained, however, that longstanding laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings, are constitutionally permissible.
Like New York, Maryland has a proper-cause requirement for wear-and-carry handgun licenses. Gov. Larry Hogan, in response to Bruen, instructed the Maryland State Police not to enforce the proper-cause element of the Maryland law. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling and Gov. Hogan’s order to the Maryland State Police, more individuals in Maryland likely will carry firearms, regardless of whether the individuals have a good or substantial reason to carry them.
Vote expected: The Council will review Bill 39-21, Taxation – Public Safety Officers – Public Safety Emergency Communications Specialists – Property Tax Credit, which would provide a property tax credit for public safety officers and public safety emergency communications specialists employed by the County.
The purpose of the bill is to increase the number of County employees occupying public safety positions who reside in the County and help recruit and retain public safety employees. If approved, Bill 39-21 would establish a maximum $2,500 County property tax credit for full-time sworn police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and public safety emergency communications specialists employed by the County.
The lead sponsors are Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Council President Albornoz. Council Vice President Evan Glass and Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Sidney Katz, Friedson, Jawando and Rice are cosponsors.
Interview and vote expected: The Council will interview Dr. Kisha Davis for the County Health Officer position and is expected to hold a vote on the appointment. The health officer is responsible for continuing the County’s efforts on disease control and prevention, eliminating health inequities and promoting county-wide inclusion of health in all policies. If appointed, Dr. Davis will oversee all public health services within Montgomery County and work with the Maryland Department of Health to coordinate disease control and collaborate on state health policies.
Dr. Davis is a family physician with more than 15 years of experience as a public health professional providing value-based care. She previously served as vice president for health equity at Aledade, the Bethesda-based organization that works with physicians, independent medical practices and health centers to ensure the delivery of high-quality care to patients.
Review and vote expected: The Council will review and is expected to vote on a resolution to amend Council Rules of Procedure. One pressing issue that staff recommends be addressed before the incoming Council assumes office on Dec. 5, 2022, is to amend the rules to reflect the number of votes required to take certain actions because the number of Councilmembers is increasing from nine to 11.
Review and vote expected: The Council will meet to review and approve a list of capital project priorities to send to the Montgomery County State Delegation. Each year, the Council and County Executive submit a letter to the State Delegation laying out the County’s priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.
The Council will hold the following public hearings at 1:30 p.m. Residents can visit the Council website to learn about the multiple ways to provide testimony.
Public hearing and vote expected: The Council will hold a public hearing and is expected to vote on a $10 million special appropriation to the County Government’s FY23 Operating Budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for hospital response. The appropriation is needed to help support Montgomery County hospital’s operations due to persistent financial, operational and workforce challenges.
Public hearing and vote expected: The Council will hold a public hearing and is expected to vote on a more than $3.5 million supplemental appropriation to the FY23 Operating Budget for DHHS for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III Grant and an amendment to the FY23 Resolution 19-1285, Section G, Designation of Entities for Non-Competitive Contract Award Status. The supplemental appropriation is needed for a state grant to support social services programs for older residents in Montgomery County. The appropriation will provide $729,320 in contracts with community organizations and more than $2.8 million will support services through DHHS.
The Maryland Department of Aging received funding through ARPA to support the OAA Title III activities. DHHS will utilize the grant to support hearing assistance devices, nutrition, dental services for seniors, arts programs for people living in long-term care settings, home and community-based services and family caregiver services for pandemic recovery. DHSS services would also include hiring a contractor for marketing and outreach for seniors, establishing a pilot program including a Spanish-speaking community organizer for outreach, distributing tablets and providing training for diverse non-English speaking residents. County residents aged 60 and older and their caregivers are eligible for services funded through the grant.
Public hearing and vote expected: The Council will hold a public hearing and is expected to vote on an $853,699 special appropriation to the FY23 Operating Budget for DHHS for the Youth Harm Reduction Initiative. The proposed special appropriation will support violence prevention and mitigation efforts and leverage youth and family engagement, and positive youth development practices.
The proposed programs include the hiring of a consultant to direct and draft a coordinated and integrated strategy for violence prevention and suppression; mentorship and peer engagement targeting for Upcounty high-risk middle school students and high school athletes; capacity building and community strengthening training for community providers; support services for teen girls in six middle schools with high poverty rates or majority Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) student populations; sports-themed youth and community engagement; the creation of youth outreach groups; and mental health awareness and well-being services.
On June 28, 2022, the Council received a briefing on Youth Safety and Positive Youth Development amid concerns about youth violence incidents in the community. The data showed that community-based youth violence had increased significantly during the past two years, much of which involved the use of firearms. County agencies and departments indicated the intent to scale up programs in partnership with community-based organizations to support vulnerable youth and mitigate potential harm.
Public hearing and vote expected: The Council will hold a public hearing and is expected to vote on a more than $1.5 million special appropriation to the FY23 Operating Budget for DHHS for newcomers enhancements and assistance. The special appropriation is needed to support the ongoing unanticipated influx of migrant families and unaccompanied youth in the County. The funding would support a network of stakeholders and community partners to continue to provide culturally and linguistically interdisciplinary services and supports.
Public hearing and vote expected: The Council will hold a public hearing and is expected to vote on a more than $2.6 million supplemental appropriation to the FY23 Operating Budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) for the Supply Chain Assistance (SAC) Fund.
Proposed Closed Session
The Council will hold a closed session to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of an appointee, employee, or official over whom it has jurisdiction, pursuant to Maryland Code, General Provisions Article §3-305(b)(1)(i). The topic is a personnel matter concerning one or more specific appointees, employees, or officials.
Each item on the Council’s Consent Calendar can be found on the Council agenda for Tuesday, Nov. 15, which is available on the Council website.
The Council recommends that residents, who choose to attend in-person Council meetings, get fully vaccinated to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. If this is not possible, virtual participation is encouraged.
Council and committee meetings are streamed live on the Council’s web page via YouTube and on Facebook Live and can be watched on County Cable Montgomery on Xfinity/RCN 6 HD 996/1056, Fios 30, and on the CCM live stream.