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State Legislative Wins: Schools, Vision Zero and Solar Energy

State aid for schools, legislation addressing transportation needs and a grant to renovate restrooms at a city community center were among wins for Rockville during the Maryland General Assembly session that concluded April 10.

The General Assembly passed a $63 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins July 1. The budget’s education funding — a city priority — includes $8.7 billion for prekindergarten through 12th grade public schools and $900 million for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a long-term plan for state public education from pre-K through college.

Lawmakers also approved legislation addressing financing for state transportation projects and establishing a commission to make recommendations about transportation funding and infrastructure needs. The legislation could support improvements to state roads identified by Rockville’s Vision Zero Action Plan to eliminate traffic- and pedestrian-related deaths and serious injuries. It could also affect Maryland’s approach to the state’s proposed I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Project. The Mayor and Council remain strongly opposed to the project and are committed to working with Gov. Wes Moore’s administration to rethink it.

Lawmakers also voted to make permanent a pilot program that allows customers to share electricity from solar energy generating systems. The community solar program addresses a goal of Rockville’s Climate Action Plan, to increase access to affordable, reliable, clean energy.

In another win for Rockville, lawmakers approved a $350,000 grant for renovations to create gender-neutral, single-user restrooms at the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center and Annex.

Lawmakers also passed bills changing how municipalities are required to advertise proposed charter changes and real property tax increases. The measures are expected to save the city money on the cost of public notices.

Several city-backed priorities failed to win passage, including Maryland Municipal League-backed legislation to give municipalities the option of creating their own police accountability board and administrative charging committee, a bill extending a state rebate program for electric vehicle charging equipment, and bills to crack down on illegally modified vehicle exhaust systems that generate excessive noise.

For more information, contact Linda Moran at [email protected] or 240-314-8115.

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