Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Council Approves Minimum Wage Increase

Today we approved Bill 12-16 that will gradually increase the County minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020. Five amendments to the original bill were approved before we voted 5-4 to approve the amended bill, making Montgomery one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to approve a $15 per hour minimum wage. While I certainly support increasing the minimum wage to $15 nationally or even regionally, I worry that raising our minimum wage when surrounding jurisdictions do not raise theirs risks putting us at a competitive disadvantage for job creation. What people want most is a job, and we need to make sure we have an environment that supports job growth. Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., January 17, 2017—The Montgomery County Council today approved Bill 12-16 that will gradually increase the County minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020. Five amendments to the original bill were approved before the Council voted 5-4 to approve the amended bill, making Montgomery one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to approve a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Councilmember Marc Elrich was the lead sponsor of Bill 12-16 to increase the County minimum wage incrementally beyond the $11.50 per hour minimum, effective July 1, 2017, that is provided for under current law. Councilmembers Tom Hucker, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer were co-sponsors. Those five voted to approve the amended bill. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice voted against the amended bill.

The bill now goes to County Executive Ike Leggett for his signature.

More information about Bill 12-16 and its amendments can be found at:
http://tinyurl.com/zk7no4n .

Prior to the vote on the amended bill, the Council considered a proposal to conduct a study of the impact of increasing the minimum wage and delay voting on a Bill 12-16 until after the study was completed. The proposal to conduct the study was defeated by a 5-4 vote with Councilmembers Elrich, Hucker, Leventhal, Navarro and Riemer voting against conducting the study. Councilmembers Berliner, Floreen, Katz and Rice supported conducting a study.

As enacted, Bill 12-16 will: 

  • Extend the incremental increases set in County law to go up to $15 per hour effective July 1, 2020 for employers with 26 or more employees. Under the bill’s transition provisions, the County minimum wage for these employers would increase to $12.50 in 2018, $13.75 in 2019 and $15.00 in 2020.
  • Require, beginning in 20212023, annual adjustments to the minimum wage by the annual average increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the previous calendar year. 
Among the amendments approved was one proposed by Councilmembers Elrich and Leventhal that changes the minimum wage schedule for businesses employers with 25 or fewer employees so that they reach $15 per hour two years later than larger employers. The phase in schedule for those the smaller businesses employers will be $12 per hour effective July 1, 2018; $12.75 per hour on July 1, 2019; $13.50 per hour on July 1, 2020; $14.25 per hour on July 1, 2021; and $15 per hour on July 1, 2022.

Another amendment proposed by Councilmembers Elrich and Leventhal and approved would give the County Executive the ability to stop pause implementation of a scheduled increase if economic conditions worsen. The conditions that could trigger a pause are: if total private employment for Montgomery County decreases decreased by 1.5 percent over the period from April 1 to June 30 of the previous year; total private employment for Montgomery County decreased by 2.0 percent over the period from Jan. 1 to June 30 of the previous year; the Gross Domestic Product of the United States experiences negative growth for the preceding two quarters: or the National Bureau of Economic Research determines that the United States economy is in recession.

An amendment proposed by Councilmember Riemer and approved will require the County’s Office of Legislative Oversight to monitor the impact of increases in the County minimum wage and provide annual reports to the Council on the impacts.

“I can’t look at this issue any other way than from the bottom up,” said Councilmember Elrich. “With this increase, we make it clear that we believe that an honest day’s work should result in an honest day’s pay and not leave a working person mired in poverty. Helping people lift themselves out of poverty benefits all of us.  

“Raising the minimum wage means that the tens of thousands of families that will be affected. They will now be more likely to meet their basic needs, and enjoy greater stability. And local businesses will benefit when more of our residents have more money to spend in the local economy. I understand the concerns of some business owners, and we have extended the phase in period for small businesses until 2022, and we have provided provisions for a pause in the increases when economic conditions warrant it. But I do not think that those concerns should trump what is a fundamental social justice issue: people who work should be able to make a living, put a roof over their heads and feed and clothes their families.  

“When FDR put forward the original minimum wage, it was explicitly to insure a wage that meets basic needs. Sadly, that link between the minimum wage and meeting basic needs has been shattered and it is time to recouple wages to the original purpose of the minimum wage.  I thank my colleagues and all the many people who worked for and supported this bill.”

Councilmember Leventhal said: “I am proud to vote for Bill 12-16 this morning. Today’s vote sends the message that I stand with hard working families struggling to get by on poverty wages.”

Councilmember Navarro said: “I was proud to co-sponsor and cast my vote to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. As we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday, I was reminded of his quote: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ While increasing the minimum wage will not solve the vexing issue of poverty, it is an important step forward in alleviating income inequality of our County.” 

Council Vice President Riemer said: “I have listened to County businesses who testified on this measure and carefully studied the information available to us. The truth is we are entering uncharted waters and no one can predict with accuracy what our economy will look like in five years. For that reason, I was glad to support amendments designed to meet concerns raised by the County Executive, which will slow the increases for small businesses and allow for the Executive to slow the increases overall in the event of a recession.”

Councilmember Floreen said: “I certainly support increasing the minimum wage to $15 nationally or even regionally. However, for Montgomery County to raise our minimum wage when surrounding jurisdictions do not raise theirs risks putting us at a competitive disadvantage for job creation. What people want most is a job, and we need to make sure we have an environment that supports job growth.”

Councilmember Katz said: “My vote against this bill was a reflection of my concern that we do not have enough information to pass the best legislation possible. I sincerely believe that the best path forward for this complex discussion would have been to get more information based on Montgomery County’s unique situation. I am very concerned that we do not know the full scope of the impact on the County budget and I am worried that there will be some businesses that will close and others will be forced to decrease the hours of some employees. I think the best way to have avoided this would have been to base our decision on more information—this would not have delayed implementation at all.”

In 2013, the Council enacted Bill 27-13 that established a County minimum wage for County employees and private sector employees working in the County, unless the state or federal minimum wage is higher. Bill 24-15 modified the method for calculating the “tip credit” allowed to employers of tipped employees.

The County minimum wage established under Bill 27-13 is being phased in over several years. The rate was set at $8.40 per hour effective Oct. 1, 2014, and increased to $9.55 per hour on Oct.1, 2015. It increased to $10.75 on July 1, 2016, and will go to $11.50 per hour on July 1, 2017. 

The County minimum wage does not apply to a worker who is exempt from the state or federal minimum wage, is under the age of 19 years and is employed no more than 20 hours per week or subject to an “opportunity wage” under the state or federal law. Employers of tipped employees may include in the computation of their wage amount a “tip credit” not exceeding the County minimum wage less $4.00 per hour.

The District of Columbia enacted a law in June 2016 increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. California and New York have enacted statewide laws that will increase the minimum wage for at least some workers to $15 per hour over a period of years. In the November 2016 election, voters in Maine, Arizona and Colorado all voted to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, and Washington State voters approved a raise to $13.50 an hour by that year. In Arizona, voters in the City of Flagstaff approved an additional minimum wage initiative to increase the minimum wage in Flagstaff to $15 an hour in 2021.

County Government is Open on Inauguration Day

Montgomery County government will be open on Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20, 2017.
  • County Offices – Open
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – Closed
  • Ride On – will operate on its normal schedule. Heavier usage is possible due to the Inauguration.
  • Metrorail – Expect heavy usage. Inauguration Day information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Expect heavy usage. Inauguration Day information available at www.wmata.com
  • Libraries – Open
  • Recreation – Facilities Open for all normally scheduled classes and events
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – because there will be no collection on Monday, January 16 for the Dr. Martin Luther Jr. holiday, trash will already be collected on a sliding schedule for this week, which means all collections will be made one day later this week, last collection day is Saturday. Trash should be curbside by 7 a.m. on scheduled pick-up day
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - Open
  • County Liquor stores – normal business hours
  • Montgomery Parks – administrative office is Closed, however many of their facilities will be open. For further information visit www.MontgomeryParks.org
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – Open
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – regular parking fees apply
  • Maryland State offices and courts – Open
  • Federal Government – Closed  (Additional information at: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/federal-holidays/#url=2017)
  • Prince George’s County government – Closed
  • Fairfax County government – Closed
  • Commonwealth of Virginia – Open
Inauguration-related events will take place from Thursday, January 19 through Sunday, January 22. For those planning on attending Inauguration-related ceremonies and events, the following links provide helpful information. Please note that this information is subject to change.
The District of Columbia government is the official source for local updates on the Inauguration. Full details are available at http://inauguration.dc.gov.
Information from the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Committee: https://www.58pic2017.org/?mid=81907&rid=31034587
The 2017 Inaugural Committee’s Joint Transportation Plan on the Metropolitan Police Department’s website: http://mpdc.dc.gov/release/2017-presidential-inaugural-transportation-plan-0
The Alert Montgomery emergency warning system will send any emergency alerts relevant to the County. If you have not already subscribed to the free Alert Montgomery emergency warning system, sign up at https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov.

Monday, January 9, 2017

100 Mile Challenge

Here's the full press release:

Montgomery County Recreation will kick off the 100 Mile Challenge at the Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Drive, Wheaton. The event is scheduled for Saturday, January 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. Featured speakers will include Nicky and Bob Lowry who will discuss their adventures climbing Mt. Everest this past spring.

The event will include a healthy tasting reception, fitness activities, a Zumba dance group activity and body fat analysis. All participants will receive a T-shirt, water bottle and swag bag at the event. 
Montgomery County Recreation is committed to healthy living through healthy eating and physical activity. The department formed the Wellness Fitness and Performance Institute to provide a framework for all of its health, wellness, fitness, and performance initiatives. The wellness mission is to increase the physical activity and healthy eating practices of residents. 

Residents are encouraged to participate individually; as a group with family, friends or coworkers; and even to bring the dog. The goal of the program, which is self-reporting, is to complete 100 miles (or more) in 100 days. Twenty minutes of continuous physical activity also counts as one mile. Tracking logs will be sent to everyone who registers at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org using activity number 26595

Prizes will be awarded weekly throughout the 100 days, culminating in a Move More Montgomery Festival with grand prizes on May 6 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Drive, Rockville. 

For information, call 240-777-6840, or go online to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/100.html


Holiday Schedule for Martin Luther King Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday holiday on Monday, January 16:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Recreation – aquatics programs and facilities open; all other classes and programs canceled; Administrative office, senior centers and community centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks - for operating schedule, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org
  • Ride On – will run a special Holiday Schedule. Click on route number in this link to see the timetable for each route:  http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/SpecialHoliday.html
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection on Monday. Trash will be collected on a sliding schedule for the week, which means all collections will be made one day later that week, last collection day is Saturday. Trash should be curbside by 7 a.m. on scheduled pick-up day. 
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices and courts – closed

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What's In and What's Out for 2017

In -- Education:  We committed ourselves to the core goals of closing the educational opportunity gap; reducing class sizes across the board; and making decisions that are both achievable in the short term and sustainable over time. That's why we passed an "education first" budget.

In -- Marriott:  Marriott is the gold standard for corporate excellence, and their decision to continue growing their business right here in Montgomery County is great news.

Out -- Hate:   After some incidents of inflammatory speech, vandalism and harassment, the Council passed a resolution reaffirming this County's tradition of respect for all residents.

In -- Economic Development:  We launched the privatized Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to give economic development a real shot in the arm, and we have welcomed its first executive director.

Out -- Job Insecurity:  Our sick and safe leave law, which requires employers to provide paid sick leave, took effect in October. New legislation expanded the law to include parental leave.

In -- Renters:  Under the new landlord-tenant law, renters can look forward to greater transparency about their rights and obligations under a lease as well as an enhanced focus on inspections and enforcement with regard to health and safety issues.

In - Clean Energy:  The Council Office Building's new solar panels are a part of a larger, and very successful, County initiative to generate clean solar energy on-site.

Out -- Electronic Cigarettes:  In 2015 the Council approved my bill to ban the use of electronic cigarettes wherever traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited and to require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine. Now the federal government is following our lead and taking aggressive steps to keep e-cigs out of the hands of minors.

In -- Gold:  Montgomery County's four Olympians brought home seven medals from the Games in Rio.

In -- New Leadership:  Congratulations to Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer who have been elected president and vice president of the Council. As the outgoing president, I had the opportunity to reflect on the Council's business over the past year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Schedule for Christmas and New Year

Here's the County's holiday schedule for the Christmas and New Year holidays:

  • County Offices – closed Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2 
  • Libraries – closed December 25, 26 and January 1, 2
  • County Liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – All facilities and programs closed December 25 and January 1. Senior centers are closed December 24 through January 2. For information on schedules for aquatic facilities and community centers during the holiday week go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/Resources/Files/thingstodo/events/2016HolidayWeekRecreationOpenings.pdf
  • Montgomery Parks - for the holiday operating schedule on Parks’ facilities visit www.MontgomeryParks.org
  • Ride On – Saturday, December 24: Saturday schedule with limited late evening service. Trips scheduled to depart from the terminal at 10:01 p.m. or later will NOT depart. Sunday, December 25: Sunday schedule. Monday, December 26: Sunday schedule (Christmas Day - observed). Sunday, January 1: Sunday schedule; Monday, January 2: Sunday schedule (New Year's Day - observed)
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Transfer Station and Poolesville Beauty Spot– closed on December 25 and January 1
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – will operate as scheduled
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – Schools and offices closed Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2; no school for students and teachers December 26 – January 2
  • State offices and courts – closed Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

County's Olympians to be Honored

Update 12/21: see the video of the event.

Here's your chance to congratulate the County’s 2016 Team USA Olympians. The free celebration will be held on Monday, December 19 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The evening will include presentations from the County Executive and Council, musical entertainment and more. Jack Conger, Katie Ledecky and Ashley Nee are confirmed to attend. Helen Maroulis is traveling and will not be able to attend.

Montgomery County is home to four of the 11 athletes who represented Maryland during the 2016 Olympic Games which took place in Rio de Janeiro from Aug. 5-21.

  • Jack Conger from Rockville competed in the 4x200m freestyle swimming event. Conger graduated from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in 2013. Conger earned a gold medal.
  • Katie Ledecky, former gold medalist from the 2012 Olympics competed in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle. Ledecky, from Bethesda, graduated from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in 2015. Ledecky earned a silver and four gold medals.
  • Ashley Nee from Bethesda competed in the Canoe Slalom. Nee graduated from Northwestern High School.
  • Helen Maroulis, a graduate from Col. Zadok Magruder High School student, is a wrestler who competed in the Freestyle 53 kg. Maroulis earned a gold medal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Leadership and a Look Back

Congratulations to Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer who have been elected president and vice president of the County Council starting today. I have every confidence that next year will be another great one for our county.

As the outgoing president, I had the opportunity to reflect on the Council's business over the past year. Here are my remarks in full (see the video):

This was absolutely a year to look back on with pride. The Montgomery County Council truly set the gold standard for commitment and hard work to move our community forward.

Principally, this was an "Education First" year. Entering into a historic and unprecedented partnership with the Board of Education, we took their budget both for instruction and construction to the highest levels ever funded.  We followed that up with tightening the school capacity test for development and significantly increased the school impact taxes. As a result of our budget decisions, students and parents are now getting more teachers, paraeducators, counselors and other student support positions, as well as expanded programs to support achievement goals and enhance college and career readiness. What’s more, we’re on track to construct school revitalizations and additions sooner than expected. 

I want to especially recognize Craig Rice as chair of the Education Committee for his leadership and advocacy, particularly with respect to the opportunity gap he has prioritized us addressing.

While we’re on the subject of education and opportunities for youth, I especially want to congratulate Nancy Navarro for partnering with the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and MCPS to bring the Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) summer program to more than 1,000 students annually from Title 1 schools, as well as her dedication to early childhood education initiatives.

Certainly we focused heavily on education this year, but it wasn’t our only priority.

We also focused on health and welfare, including prohibiting minors from using indoor tanning devices and mandating food allergen awareness training in restaurants.

And for those residents who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from, we thank Roger Berliner for leading the charge to create a strategic plan to reduce food insecurity in our county.

We also focused on equality, fairness and lending a helping hand by creating a new property tax credit for seniors; tightening wage reporting requirements to ensure workers are paid a living wage; and ensuring workers can take parental leave.

Also, Montgomery County now benefits from a Mental Health Court designed to address the challenges of increasing numbers of people committing minor crimes due to mental illness. Thanks in part to Sidney Katz’s participation on the Mental Health Court Planning and Implementation Task Force, people who have committed crimes due to a mental illness can access a structured program for treatment.

And, as a result of Marc Elrich’s landlord-tenant bill, renters can look forward to greater transparency about their rights and obligations under a lease as well as an enhanced focus on inspections and enforcement with regard to health and safety issues.

In the category of good government, I want to recognize George Leventhal for introducing the bill that established a salary schedule for heads of County departments and principal offices, thereby ensuring better transparency and accountability. 

And I also recognize Hans Riemer for spearheading the effort to win a Department of Labor grant to study paid family and medical leave throughout the county, thereby helping chart the best path forward.

It has been a very big year in terms of business and development. We launched the privatized Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to give economic development a real shot in the arm, and we have welcomed its first executive director. We have put our business community in charge of our business development program, and that is an outstanding achievement for this County.

In our land use planning efforts, we have focused on supporting and modernizing existing communities. We are completing the work on Lyttonsville, which will join the sector plan work on Montgomery Village and Westbard to encourage appropriate reinvestment in those areas. We put many hours into updating the Subdivision Staging Policy, and subdivision regulations, which modernized our processes for reviewing development, tightening tests, adding clarity to often misunderstood regulations that will guide our future, and support the infrastructure that the future requires.

Of course, legislation is only part of the work we do here.  There have been quite a few challenging community issues this past year. There is no better example of that type of constituent service than that of Tom Hucker and his deep involvement with families affected by the explosion and fire at the Flower Branch apartments in Silver Spring.

In fact, public outreach to our more than one million residents has been a hallmark of this body. 

This year the Council as a whole held four town hall meetings, a public forum on cell towers and 52 public hearings. Individual Councilmembers held dozens more town halls, forums and special events in their districts or for special populations. This is a Council that likes to meet with people face to face, and you can find at least one our sponsored events just about every week of the year.  

In 2016, we made great strides in reaching more people and doing it in more ways, reflecting a County that is becoming more tech savvy and more diverse. We have aggressively expanded our use of social media to better inform residents about issues and about Council actions. We now have thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. In order to expand our reach we have staff dedicated to outreach in our Hispanic and Asian communities. We also greatly improved our immediacy in 2016. You can now get video summaries of many Council actions and key discussions the day they happen. Our cable station, County Cable Montgomery was recognized with a local Emmy for its outstanding communications work. It's quite an array of community connections success.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t address one big issue of the last year or so, and that is the seismic shift in the way our country engages in public discourse. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in vitriolic speech and a prevalence of style over substance. It seems that the news media have been crippled by the overwhelming task of fact finding and fact checking, and the American public is showing signs of political fatigue no matter what their party affiliation.

Although we like to think of ourselves as somewhat insulated from national trends here in Montgomery County, the truth is that we’ve experienced tremblors here too.

Unfortunately we’ve seen some acts of vandalism, hate speech and harassment, and that has made folks understandably jittery. Many Councilmembers and staff have experienced more impoliteness and a lack of civility in the course of their everyday work, and that can be dispiriting. 

But we cannot let this get in our way. The work we do represents our future, and we are fortunate to be in this unique position of being able to shape it for the better.

It is with the particular challenges of this past year in mind that I want to say thank you to all of you for what you do to make our little corner of the world a better place.

On a personal note, I want to thank my chief of staff, Judy Jablow for her sage advice and for her outstanding leadership among the Confidential Aides. I also want to recognize the rest of my team--Ruthann Eiser, Jocelyn Rawat and Tedi Osias.  I know that each of my colleagues feels equally grateful to their own personal staffs.

Of course we all are indebted to the larger Council team—the 5th floor analysts and support staff, the Office of Legislative Oversight and the Legislative Information Office. You are the backbone of this organization, and we are deeply grateful to you.

Success is no accident. It takes hard work, patience, perseverance, learning, trust, collaboration and commitment, with a dose of good humor thrown in. By that, by any definition, this has been a most successful year for this Council. You all have demonstrated these qualities and for that our county has been very well served. It has been my deep privilege to lead you this past year, and I am sure that next year will be equally outstanding. Thank you all.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Changes to Council Web Site Create More Access

Check out the new and significant revision to the Council's Web site. You can now access in one click agendas for Council sessions and committee meetings. You can also get informational packets for every issue to be discussed at meetings and view live meetings and archived videos of past meetings. Go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council and click on "Council Meeting Portal" to get this information plus minutes of prior meetings, summaries of Council actions and voting outcomes on legislation.

The Council broadcasts live all Council sessions, public hearings and committee meetings. If two committee meetings are ongoing simultaneously, you can choose from the site to see the live broadcast of either.

On the same page, click on “Archived Agendas and Packets,” to access archived agendas and prior informational meeting packets dating to 2004. A new “search” feature greatly improves the ability to find items by subject or name. Videos on demand are available for Council meetings and most committee meetings dating to 2005. Videos of evening public hearings back to 2010 also are available.

You can view videos of some Council special events, such as town hall meetings, or special programs produced by County Cable Montgomery  under “Other Council Videos.”

To access the new site and its key information for upcoming meetings:

  • From the Council home page, click on the box near the top of the page that reads “Council Meeting Portal. Agendas, Packets, Live and Archived Video.”
  • On the page, under “Current and Upcoming Meetings,” find meetings identified by date and the desired session.
  • Click on “Agendas/Packets” and then go to the meeting informational packet for that specific item.Agendas for upcoming meetings are generally available two-to-three working days before a meeting. Detailed informational packets for each item on an agenda are generally added about 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Information on previous Council sessions or committee worksessions are available by finding the desired meeting and clicking on either “Agendas/Packets” or “Video.” Meeting videos can be viewed by specific items, so you do not have to watch the entire meeting when seeking video on just one item.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Council Approves Landlord-Tenant Bill

On Tuesday we unanimously approved amended Bill 19-15 that addresses issues with landlord-tenant relations. The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee held five worksessions on the bill that would make several changes to the landlord-tenant law principally aimed at enhancing the existing rights of tenants and improving the quality of rental housing through increased inspections.

The major provisions of approved Bill 19-15 will:

  • Provide tenants with greater transparency about their rights and obligations under a lease.
  • Require the Department of Housing and Community Affairs to inspect a sample of every multi-family rental property over the next two years to establish baseline information about the condition of the County’s rental housing stock.
  • Focus ongoing enforcement resources on properties with significant health and safety issues and properties with numerous code violations.
  • Provide clearer information about the state of rental units in the County via improved data collection and publication.
  • Provide many benefits to tenants that should improve the stability and quality of their living arrangements. 
Other provisions in the bill will:
  • Require each lease to include a plain language summary of a tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Require DHCA to conduct a two-year intensive inspection schedule (twice the current number of inspections, prioritized by need).
  • Require DHCA to provide annual reports to Council and County Executive about past and upcoming year inspections. 
  • Require certain properties to be inspected more frequently than the current triennial schedule (based on type and severity of violations).
  • Require landlords to pay the cost of subsequent inspections, if a property needs multiple inspections for uncorrected violations.
  • Require that tenants can make certain repairs when authorized by the DHCA director or his designee, if DHCA orders a repair and the landlord fails to correct the issue in the allotted time.
  • Requires lease renewal terms of two years, if the landlord is offering renewal.
Approved Bill 19-15 also provides tenants with greater access to information including:
  • Improvement of the availability of landlord-tenant handbooks.
  • Requiring landlords to provide tenants with more information about utility bills in older buildings.
  • Requiring landlords to give 60 days’ notice if the landlord intends to terminate the tenancy at the end of a lease term, and 90 days’ notice for all rent increases.
  • Requiring DHCA to publish certain data from the annual rental housing survey on its web site.
  • Requiring that tenant organizations be allowed to use available meeting space for free once per month.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

County Maintains AAA Bond Rating

Good news: Montgomery County has maintained its Triple-A bond rating for 2016 from three Wall Street bond rating agencies. Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all affirmed the “AAA” rating – the highest achievable -- for the County. They all termed the outlook for Montgomery County as “stable.”

The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring the lowest possible costs in those areas as well.

The County has held an AAA bond rating since 1973 and is currently one of just 45 of the more than 3,000 counties nationwide with the top rating from all three rating agencies.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Stand Up for the Montgomery Way

I hope to see you this Sunday when I will join other public officials, faith leaders and neighbors as we reaffirm our values of diversity, inclusion and respect for all that have made Montgomery County special at the Stand Up for the Montgomery Way event. We will be at the Silver Spring Civic Building at 1 Veterans Place in Silver Spring, 2:30 to 3:30.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Council and Executive Reaffirm Community Safety and Trust

As a number of people have written and stated, the events of the past week have brought out demons in our society that many of us thought had been put to rest. That's why the Council passed a resolution reaffirming this County’s tradition of respect for all residents. We stand united in saying we are a diverse community that believes in the dignity and importance of all our members. We reject discrimination and disenfranchisement in all its forms, and we condemn hate speech, hate crimes and harassment. See the news conference.

Here's the full text of the resolution:

SUBJECT:       Reaffirming Community Safety and Trust and Denouncing Anti-Immigrant Activity, Racial Bias and Discrimination, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Hate Speech, Hate Crimes, and Harassment in Montgomery County 

Background

1. Montgomery County’s strength is its diversity. People from every corner of the globe come to our County seeking peace, stability, and a better quality of life for their families, and their contributions greatly enrich our community. 

2. Montgomery County has the largest population of foreign born residents in the State of Maryland with nearly one-third of our residents coming from other countries. 

3. More than 70 percent of students in Montgomery County Public Schools are Hispanic/Latino, African American, Asian American, or multi-racial.

4. The County Council affirms the dignity of all County residents and recognizes the importance of their contributions to social, religious, cultural, and economic life.

5. County officials and employees and our entire community have worked diligently to build trust among people of all races, ethnicities, and religions. These efforts make our County a thriving, welcoming community. 

6. Montgomery County has a long history of protecting all individual freedoms, and we will continue to protect and defend our people and our progress. 
7. All our residents should be free to go about their daily life without fear of hate speech, hate crimes, harassment, or deportation. 

8. The Council strongly opposes any federal action that may undermine the trust created in our community and threaten public safety.   

9. The Council is committed to ensuring that activity at the federal level will not impact our democratic values or the progress made in our community to protect individual freedoms. Federal authorities must proceed with great caution and respect for the values of our County and the requirements of the Constitution. 
  
Action

The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the following resolution:

Montgomery County will continue to be a citadel of justice and provide unlimited opportunities for people from all walks of life. The County will continue to be an inclusive and pluralistic community where all people are treated with respect.

Montgomery County believes that no deportations should take place without ensuring that the person to be deported received adequate representation and due process of law under the Constitution. The Montgomery County Police Department will play no role in enforcing federal immigration law.  County residents should never be afraid to seek help from our public safety officers. 

The Council rejects bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia in any form.

The Council denounces hate speech, hate crimes, and harassment and condemns the recent hate crimes that have occurred in our County.   

The Council calls on the County’s MC311 system to provide operators and staff with special instructions to assist anyone on how to report and deal with hate crimes and harassment, including information about legal resources and support services. When appropriate, MC311 operators should also transfer calls to the Montgomery County Police Department’s non-emergency number and provide information about the Office of Human Rights. 


This is a correct copy of Council action.

Linda M. Lauer, Clerk of the Council

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving

Here is our holiday schedule for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County Liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation - all programs and facilities are closed
  • Montgomery Parks - For holiday operating schedule on Parks’ facilities, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org
  • Ride On – Ride On will run on a Sunday schedule
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling Collections – No collection*
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed.  Public Unloading Facility and Recycle Lot, at the Transfer Station will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 23
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25
  • State offices and courts – closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25
*Collection for Thursday and Friday provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Expansion of Sick and Safe Leave Law

Today the Council unanimously approved Bill 32-16 that will extend the provisions of the County’s paid leave law for certain parental purposes. The bill will add two related purposes for which use of paid leave accrued under the Earned Sick and Safe Leave law will be permitted. The bill will permit the use of paid leave for the birth of a child or for the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care. It also will allow use of the leave to care for a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed child within one year of birth, adoption or placement.

The Council in July 2015 enacted Bill 60-14 that requires an employer doing business in the County to provide a minimum amount of paid leave for an employee who works in the County. Bill 60-14 was enacted with an effective date of October 1, 2016. Bill 32-16 will go into effect immediately as expedited legislation.