Sometimes you just don't know whether to laugh or cry.
At its meeting on Nov. 20, the Columbia Association Board of Directors voted to pay for a lobbyist to the Maryland General Assembly for all of Columbia's 10 village homeowners associations (HOAs), even if a particular village chose to remain an HOA and not join in the legislation that would change CA and the villages from HOAs to "nonprofit community service corporations," whatever those are. The laugh or cry part comes in because this action completes a perfect but disturbing circle.
For about a year now, the CA staff and (I believe) some CA board members have been writing and saying publicly that the reasons CA is pursuing the legislation to change CA's designation as an HOA is that CA has to pay for a lobbyist in Annapolis to follow HOA bills because CA is larger than other HOAs and some bills might be detrimental to CA. Also, they have said some legislators in Annapolis, whom they haven't identified, are bothered by CA's requests to be exempted from some HOA bills.
However, the public learned at a CA-sponsored meeting with our local delegates and senators on Nov. 1 that none of the legislators present had planned to introduce CA's HOA bill and it wasn't they who objected to dealing with CA's amendments to HOA legislation. They haven't seen any problems.
We also learned that they hadn't received a recent copy of the bill from CA — actually, the CA Board has not yet voted to approve the bill. In any case, the deadline has now passed for our local legislators to introduce the HOA bill as a "local bill."
CA's legal counsel still says, however, that it is not too late to have CA's HOA bill introduced in the General Assembly this year. I'm wondering by whom? Some delegate from another county perhaps? In any case, the General Assembly almost never passes a bill affecting only a local jurisdiction that is not supported by that local delegation.
So, to complete the circle, now we have learned that CA has committed to paying for a lobbyist in Annapolis to watch HOA legislation even if CA is no longer an HOA. Gone are the two main reasons for initiating this bill to begin with.
That begs the question. Why is CA even now pursuing this legislation? The reasons that CA originally gave for changing CA from an HOA to a "nonprofit community service organization" have evaporated.
Approximately 40 people spoke out at the four public meetings on this CA bill. Not one person, not even one person, spoke in favor of this bill. The village boards are so concerned that they have hired and attorney to advise them on how the bill would affect them.
The reasons for not pursuing this bill seem fairly strong to me which makes me (and some others) ask, just who is pushing this legislation and for what reasons.
Barbara L. Russell
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