County Council Review – June 2019

This article was first published for our supporters on July 6, 2019. Any amount of support contributed to our Patreon opens access to Commonwealth’s latest publications. 

Commonwealth will endeavor to start a new program of covering and analyzing Montgomery County local government operations. Our aim is to provide detailed breakdowns of particular legislation or actions that pertain to the Left, as well as generally review the operations and procedures of local government in a digestible manner. The more activists know and are aware of the local political process, the better able they will be to intervene or support issues and initiatives they care about. 

This is in conjunction with our new Advocacy page, where readers can find draft letters to their representatives on a certain issues, some of which are mentioned below.

What follows is a select summary or new legislation, discussions, and reports heard by the full County Council. Not everything is covered. For instance, we have left out the hearing process to fill two seats on the Montgomery County Planning Board which took place all through the month of June. This is primarily due to the time involved in reviewing the hearings and the already significant amount of writing done already on the topic by others.

Specific analysis of particular Council Committee hearings or legislation will also be made available shortly. Subscribers to the Commonwealth Patreon will always obtain first notice of these new publications as thanks for their support.

Detailed Analysis 

New legislation introduced by the County Executive included extending the County’s minority owned business purchasing program (15-19E) and authorizing bonds for stormwater management projects. The Executive also provided the Council with an overview of his administration’s economic development strategy. 

Councilmember Will Jawando (At-Large) introduced Bill 18-19, Landlord Tenant Relations – Relocation Expenses to require a landlord to pay a tenant’s relocation costs  if the tenant’s housing is condemned as unfit for human habitation under certain circumstances. The bill also requires a landlord to provide a tenant with a right of first refusal to re-occupy the rental housing after repairs.

A public hearing tentatively scheduled for July 16 at 1:30 p.m 

Commonwealth wrote about the bill, including a sample letter of support, on June 25, 2019 (read here).

Councilmember Hans Riemer introduced Bill 13-19, Policing Advisory Commission in June and is scheduled for a public hearing July 9, 2019 at 7:30pm. Commonwealth encourages readers to send a letter to their representative supporting the bill, a draft letter is available online on our “Advocacy” page. The bill is far from perfect, the Commission would only be reviewing policing practices and recommending policing policy. However state laws were set in place, with the heavy support of the Fraternal Order of Police, to limit the amount of policing-related information that could be shared with any civilian oversight board or the public. Until state lawmakers can eliminate or circumvent these barriers, the County will be unable to enact a police oversight body with disciplinary powers, rather than just a focus on policy.

Councilmember Andrew Friedson (District 1) introduced Bill 20-19, Licensing of Rental Housing – Fee Exemption. The legislation would exempt a rental license applicant from any license fee requirement to operate an accessory apartment as a rental unit if the unit is occupied by an individual with disabilities. Commonwealth does not have an opinion on this bill yet. There seems to be a good intent to make it financially easier to rent to people with disabilities, but we are concerned about how it relates to the level of competency on the side of the landlord. To start, if the county cuts the rental license fees (generally around $50-$100 per unit depending on the project), are there measures in place to insure the landlord is appropriately informed about the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Laws? We hope our readers will inform us what their take it when it comes to this measure. 

The County Council voted unanimously in support of Councilmember Tom Hucker’s Bill 6-19. The bill will allow tenants to terminate their lease if the landlord has not fixed health and safety violations. County Executive Marc Elrich signed Bill 6-19 into law on July 3, 2019.

County Council and Committee held a discussions and/or were briefed on subjects including, but not limited to: Racial Equity and Social Justice, Police Department and Community Policing, a Missing Middle housing study, and a report on housing, population and employment trends since 1990. 

The Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) presented the County Council with a report on the Student Load Market Demand and Cost Analysis. In 2016, the Maryland State legislature passed enabling legislation that allows counties to establish Student Loan Refinancing Authorities (SLRA). Before establishing the SLRA, the county must perform a feasibility and demand study to assess factors such as school system employment, operation costs, and examples of SLRA in other jurisdictions. The OLO already conducted a report in June of 2017 that found a student loan refinancing authority in Montgomery County was viable. CM Tom Hucker had legislation prepared that would establish a Montgomery County SLRA, but it was decided by Council committee meetings that a market demand and cost analysis study be conducted first. The new OLO student loan study concurs with the 2017 study and outlines certain high-level recommendations for any SLRA. Commonwealth’s full analysis of the report will come in due time but for now it appears a SLRA bill may be something CM Hucker (District 5) could be pressured to introduce.

Summary of Council Actions for June 2019

Briefings: 

County Council/Committees received briefings from relevant agencies/individuals on the following:

Date Topic Audience Report Briefing
6.11 Racial Equity and Social Justice Full Council (pdf) (pdf), (video)
6.17 Police Department and Community Policing Public Safety Committee (PS)  n/a (pdf) (video)
6.20 Transportation Demand Management Transportation & Environment (T&E) No report, but related to Bill 36-18  (pdf) (video)
6.24 Missing Middle Housing Study  Planning Housing and Economic Development (PHED) (pdf pp.3-33) (pdf) (video)
6.24 Report on housing, population and employment trends since 1990  PHED (pdf pp. 34-131) (pdf, same as above Missing Middle Study)

(video)

*Note: we know the table formatting is messy. We’re working on an alternative

Bills Introduced 

Bill number Public hearing date, title, sponsor(s), co-sponsor(s) Purpose, Advocacy letters, other notes
14-19 Police – Policing Advisory Commission

Public Hearing scheduled for July 9, 2019

Sponsors: Riemer; Co-sponsors: Jawando, Hucker, Glass

Advocacy Sample Letter

Purpose: create and specify the membership and duties of a Policing

 

15-19E Contracts and Procurement – Minority Owned Businesses

Sponsor: Council President (Nancy Navarro) at the Request of the County Executive

Purpose: extend the sunset date for the County’s minority owned business purchasing program
16-19E Special Capital Improvements Project – Gude Landfill Remediation

Sponsor: Council President at the Request of the County Executive

Purpose: An expedited act to authorize the planning, design, and construction of the Gude Landfill Remediation (P801801) project in the Rockville area. 
17-19E Bond Authorization – Stormwater Management

Sponsor: Council President at the Request of the County Executive

Purpose: Authorize the County to issue special limited obligation 

bonds for the purposes of financing the planning, design, acquisition, and construction and maintenance of stormwater management facilities and other related projects

18-19 Landlord Tenant Relations – Relocation Expenses

Public hearing tentatively scheduled for July 16 at 1:30 p.m

Sponsor: Jawando; Co-Sponsor: Katz, Hucker, Navarro, Rice

Purpose: require a landlord to pay to a tenant a relocation payment if the tenant’s housing is condemned as unfit for human habitation under certain circumstances; require a landlord to provide a tenant with a right of first refusal to re-occupy rental housing under certain circumstances
19-19E Economic Development – Workforce Development – Amendments

Public Hearing scheduled: July 16, 2019

Lead Sponsor(s): Navarro; Co-Sponsor(s): Jawando, Rice, Albornoz, Rice, Katz:

Purpose: authorize the Council to designate a nonprofit corporation or a public educational

institution, or both, as the County’s Workforce Development Organization

20-19 Landlord-Tenant Relations – Licensing of Rental Housing – Fee Exemption

Public Hearing scheduled: July 16, 2019

Lead Sponsor(s): Friedson; Co-Sponsor(s): Jawando, Riemer, Albornoz, Navarro, Rice, Katz, Glass

Purpose: exempt a license applicant from any license fee 

requirement to operate an accessory apartment as rental housing in certain circumstances if the apartment is occupied by an individual with disabilities

21-19E Property Tax Credit – Elderly Individuals and Retired Military Services Member – Surviving Spouse

Public Hearing scheduled: July 16, 2019

Lead Sponsor(s): Rice, Katz

Co-Sponsor(s): Navarro, Albornoz, Glass

Purpose: (1) expand the property tax credit for surviving spouses of 

retired military services members; and (2) generally amend the property tax credit for elderly individuals and retired military services members. 

Bills For Final Reading

6.25.19 6-19 Landlord-Tenant Relations – Termination of Lease – Tenant Health and Safety

FINAL VOTE: 9 Yeas – 0 Nays

Reports

6.25 Student Loan Market Demand Study and Cost Analysis (pdf)

note: CM Tom Hucker (D5) has a bill for County Refinancing Agency he tried to introduce 

in 2017

6.25 Common Ownership Communities

Council Discussions

6.25 County’s Economic Development Strategy

Closed Sessions

6.12 Planning Board appointment

6.18 Planning Board appointment

Public Safety communication towers

6.25 Inspector General Interviews

Misc Actions

6.18.19

  • Worksession ZTA 19-01 Accessory Residential Uses – Accessory Apartments (Commonwealth’s article on the ZTA is available here)

6.25.19

  • Resolution to Amend 2016-2020 Subdivision staging policy vis a vis blighted/condemned buildings or affordable housing (adopted as amended, 9 yes votes)
  • Confirm appointment of Dr. Raymond Crowel to Director of HHS
  • Appointment to Planning Board: Casey Anderson and Partap Verma
  • Confirm MCEDC appointments: Kevin Beverly, Elana Fine, Angela Graham, Ellie Giles

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s