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At the start of the 2019 General Assembly, Baltimore County legislators put schools at the top of their agenda.

After Monday, which was Sine Die, the last day of the legislative session, results are a mixed bag.

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On one hand, a major funding bill passed to further the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. On the other, a highly anticipated school construction funding bill stalled in the Senate.

Maryland lawmakers put the finishing touches on an ambitious General Assembly session in which they enacted plans aimed at helping working families, public schools and the environment — and, in doing so, completed the legislative legacy of the House of Delegates’ late speaker, Michael Busch.

But from tobacco to the minimum wage, legislation passed this session will affect Baltimore County residents. Because of legislation this year, tobacco will be restricted to adults over 21 years old, and the minimum wage in Baltimore County will rise incrementally along with the state’s wage to $15 per hour.

Below are of the major county takeaways from this year’s 90-day session.

1. Education funding is coming – but not as much as county officials want.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. made a strong public push for the Build to Learn Act, which would have authorized more than $2 billion in 30-year Maryland Stadium Authority bonds for school construction.

But that bill stalled in the Senate. Del. Michele Guyton, a Parkton Democrat, said she expects some form of the bill to come back around next year.

Guyton said one victory was passing a school funding plan called the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.”

Maryland’s Senate opened its floor session with tearful words of tribune to House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch — a pillar of state government who died after a bout with pneumonia. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he couldn't sleep or talk about Busch's death.

The bill, which Guyton worked on as part of the education subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, would send more than $850 million in extra funding to public schools over two years. That money would go to increasing teacher pay, expanding prekindergarten and building supports for high-poverty schools.

“Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” passed in the Senate on Friday and has been sent to Gov. Larry Hogan for consideration.

2. The county could be authorized to implement developer impact fees, if it chooses.

A bill introduced by Sen. Chris West, of District 42, would authorize the Baltimore County Council to institute development impact fees.

The fees would be allowed to be used to finance public works and facilities in the surrounding community needed to accommodate the new development.

If the bill becomes law, it will be up to the County Council to decide whether or not to implement the fees.

The bill passed in the House on March 21, sending it to Hogan’s desk.

3. County projects will get thousands in state bond funding

Legislators gained approval for state funding for projects around the county, including:

  • Friends of Radebaugh Neighborhood Park, a 2.4-acre park under construction in Towson, will get $100,000 from the state to fund amenities such as trash cans, bike racks, benches, handicapped access path, play structure for young children, security lighting and shade trees.
  • Morning Star Family Life Center, a community development organization in western Baltimore County, will get $500,000 to build out a workforce development program that includes meeting and event space, a commercial kitchen for culinary training and recreational centers.
  • Pikesville and Woodlawn high schools will get $500,000 and $650,000 respectively, for athletic facility improvements.
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