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State Legislative Wins: Climate Measures and Money for Schools, Roads and Fitzgerald Theater

State aid for renovations to the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre and for road and bridge maintenance, and measures to combat climate change were among the wins for Rockville during the Maryland General Assembly session that concluded April 11.

The General Assembly also passed a $61 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins July 1, bolstered by federal COVID-relief funding and federal Build Back Better infrastructure legislation. The state budget includes investments in health care, public schools and cybersecurity, assistance for vulnerable residents, and tax cuts for Maryland retirees, small businesses and low-income families.

Several bills winning passage address goals of Rockville’s new Climate Action Plan. The largest, the Climate Solutions Now Act, requires the state to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, and establishes or extends energy efficiency and conservation program requirements, including requirements for purchasing zero-emission vehicles for the state fleet. The legislature also established an Office of Resilience in the Department of Emergency Management.

The legislature voted to ban the sale of “ghost guns.” Backed by the Mayor and Council, the legislation requires state police to maintain a system to register firearms imprinted with serial numbers and prohibits a person from purchasing, receiving, selling, offering to sell, or transferring an “unfinished frame or receiver” or a firearm unless imprinted with a serial number.

In another victory on a city priority, the legislature approved an increase in the share of state gas and vehicle taxes that local governments receive to fund road and bridge maintenance.

Lawmakers also approved a requirement that the State Highway Administration conduct an infrastructure review following a pedestrian or bicyclist fatality on a state highway, or at the intersection of a state highway and another highway or municipal street. The measure, which will aid the city in its Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic- and pedestrian-related deaths and serious injuries, requires SHA to post results of the review on its website within six months of a fatality.

Lawmakers approved a $250,000 bond bill to renovate the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre and Social Hall to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and, for the second consecutive year, waived a requirement that would require the city to match the funds.

Two other city priorities were unsuccessful. One would have increased the fine for illegally modified exhaust systems that generate excessive noise. The other would have allowed municipalities to advertise proposed changes to their charters in a printed newsletter or other regular municipal publication.

Plans are in the works for the state District 17 delegation to present a report on the session to the Mayor and Council. Visit www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter for details as they become available. For more information, contact Linda Moran at lmoran@rockvillemd.gov or 240-314-8115.

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Rockville Reports is the official publication of the City of Rockville, published at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850-2364.

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