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Carroll commissioner eyes legislation on Common Core, stormwater fee

Carroll County Commissioners President Doug Howard announced Monday that he will propose legislation tackling two of the most talked about issues in Carroll: the state mandated stormwater fee and the Common Core State Standards.

At his town hall meeting, Howard said he will ask the Board of Carroll County Commissioners to request statewide legislation during the 2014 General Assembly that includes exempting counties from implementing the stormwater fee under certain circumstances and withdrawing Maryland school systems from the Common Core.

County Commissioners are scheduled to discuss their legislative proposals for the county delegation Nov. 26.

More than 40 people attended Howard's latest town hall, which are held throughout the year at the South Carroll Senior Center in Eldersburg.

Carroll County is facing the possibility of a $10,000 a day fine for its proposed handling of the state-mandated stormwater fee after the Maryland Department of the Environment and Attorney General's Office reviewed the proposal.

Commissioners voted unanimously June 27 to adopt a resolution creating a Watershed Protection and Restoration Fund to be funded by grants and county dollars instead of creating a storm water fee paid by area businesses and residents.

The state responded with a letter informing Carroll that its funding mechanism was noncompliant with state law.

County officials have contacted the state to schedule a meeting on the possible fine, but a date has not yet been set, according to Howard.

He said there has been too much rhetoric around the stormwater fee discussion, emphasizing that Carroll's strategy of stressing their existing funding sources has been a strong one.

"The state should accept Carroll's rationale and leave us well enough alone," Howard said at the town hall, adding that he will "never vote for a rain tax."

Howard has requested Carroll County Attorney Tim Burke draft the following three bills regarding the state mandated stormwater fee:

•Rain Tax Exemption: Statewide legislation that would exempt a county from implementing a storm water fee if:

  •Storm water projects are planned and funded to comply with MS4 permits

  •Funds are included in the budget with a designated funding source

  •A separate fund for these projects is in place and appropriately funded

•TMDL Recalculation: Statewide legislation that would prevent the imposition of any additional storm water requirements until there is a full and proper recalculation of the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) model with consideration for elements such as Conowingo Dam and other identified factors that impact bay quality.

•Multi-state Accountability: Statewide legislation that would prevent the imposition of any additional storm water requirements until there is a multi-state agreement that puts comparable requirements, demands and corresponding cost on Pennsylvania with regard to bay restoration. Such an agreement must also create a multi-state process to use resources and obtain credit for projects across state lines to meet regional goals and for more optimal approaches to bay restoration.

While Carroll County commissioners have been vocal in their displeasure with the Common Core State Standards, Howard made his strongest comments against the Common Core to date on Monday.

He announced that he will propose a bill that would withdraw all school systems from the new standards and Race to the Top. His proposal would also authorize the state to return all federal funds received from the Race to the Top grant.

Howard acknowledged that the bill may have a "relatively slim chance" of finding a sponsor in the state legislature, but added the implementation of the Common Core has been a "very bad strategy."

Howard, who has formed a citizen work-group to research the effects of the Common Core State Standards, said he will also propose these bills:

•PARCC-Longitudinal Database-Teacher Assessment Elimination: Statewide legislation that would modify the Race to the Top grant to eliminate requirements for the PARCC assessments, longitudinal database and teacher assessments.

•Withdraw From Next Generation Science Standards: Statewide legislation that would withdraw Maryland as a test state for the Next Generation Standards.

If none of the first three bills are sponsored by a member of the delegation, Howard said he would propose the following two bills.

•Delay Curriculum Implementation & PARCC Assessment: Statewide legislation that would modify the Race to the Top grant to extend the time to implement Common Core standards as well as the corresponding curriculum change and assessments to a more manageable time-frame to be determined by local Boards of Education.

•Return Teacher Pensions to the State: Statewide legislation that would return full responsibility for contributions to the State Teacher Pensions to the state for free necessary funds locally for the mitigation of the impacts of implementing the Common Core.


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