ANNAPOLIS – La Plata Mayor William Eckman said he does not know much about unfunded mandates. “I don’t pretend to understand them,” he told lawmakers Friday.
But he said he does understand the crunch of dolling out $15,000 to fulfill a state requirement that he employ a special inspector to examine the heating, ventilation and cooling systems of local buildings.
Beckman told the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee that it’s not so much the dollars and cents, but the principle that bothers him.
“I think that the biggest problem with unfunded mandates is that it lends to faulty decision-making,” he said. “I know when our government makes a policy decision, we have to look at cost to see if we can afford this.
“Unfunded mandates take one of the most important parts of this process away.”
Sen. David Craig, R-Harford, is the sponsor of legislation that would prohibit the state from requiring local governments to provide programs or services without also providing funding.
The bill would make an exception if the unfunded mandate was approved a three-fifths vote of the Legislature.
“We all know that federal and state mandates have placed havoc on local governments,” Craig said. “We all know what federal mandates have done to us.”
Sen. Michael Collins, D-Baltimore, is the sponsor of another bill geared to aid local governments against mandates. The bill would require state agencies to account for the impact their proposed regulations would have on local governments.
Essentially, the bill extends a law signed last year requiring the Legislature to document a bill’s impact on local governments, Collins said.
“This bill will foster in the executive branch the same sensitivity to local governments,” Collins said.
Sen. Christopher McCabe, R-Montgomery, posed the question: “How apt are the agencies to label their regulations as a mandate?”
Jon Burrell, executive director of the Maryland Municipal League, offered the answer. “That is the purpose, to make these agencies see the impact of their regulations,” he said. Sen. Clarence Blount, D-Baltimore, predicted that Collins’ bill would receive a favorable report from the committee, as eight of the 11 members are co-sponsors. -30-