Community Development Network of Maryland

 

General Assembly Update February 19, 2014
CDN Members and Friends:
  
This issue of our e-newsletter highlights CDN's legislative priorities, the status of those priorities in the current General Assembly session, and other bills that have come up that are of importance to Maryland's community development industry.  Where applicable, we detail how you can take action.

CDN's Policy Agenda
  
CDN has crafted a policy agenda that is designed to strengthen Maryland's community development industry as well as ensure all people have access to decent communities in which to live.  The full policy agenda can be seen on our website here.  We first announced this Policy Agenda during our successful Legislative Luncheon on January 29, 2014.  Briefly, agenda items are:
  • General operating support for nonprofit community development organizations
  • Funding for the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund (RMPIF) and the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF). 
  • Strong Neighborhood Revitalization Programs (Community Legacy, Neighborhood BusinessWorks, and Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund)
  • Elimination of the Local Resolution provisions for rental housing projects with financing from DHCD
  • Passage of the HOME Act
  • Baltimore City Committee: Homestead Tax Credit Carry Over
Urge the Senate and House Capital Sub-Committees to support the Governor's FY2015 allocations for Neighborhood Revitalization Programs.                   
                   
The Governor's FY2015 Budget allocates $6 million for Community Legacy (level funding from the previous year), $5.25 million for Neighborhood BusinessWorks (significant increase from FY2014), and $10 million for Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund (level funding) under the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Neighborhood Revitalization programs. The hearings for these allocations are 2/25 in the Senate, and 2/26 in the House.  Anyone is welcome to submit written testimony.  Testimony should be sent to John Papagni at Papagni@dhcd.state.md.us by 2/20.  John is coordinating personal testimony for the House hearing.  (The Senate does not take personal testimony). 
  
TODAY - Call/email your Delegates and urge them to pass HB543 the Multifamily Rental Housing Programs Efficiency Act            
HB453, DHCD's Multifamily Rental Housing Programs Efficiency Act, streamlines the rental housing programs in the Department of Housing and Community Development. CDN supports this legislation particularly because this bill eliminates the local resolution requirement for projects with state funding. Instead, jurisdictions are given a comment period. This aligns the State with the Federal guidelines around financing with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Local jurisdictions retain full control over the zoning and planning processes relative to any development project.
 
While there was no opposition to the bill in the Environmental Matters committee, there was significant opposition on the floor of the House.  It is expected for a vote on 2nd reader Thursday (after 2 days of delays).   Your help in contacting your Delegates today to pass this important legislation is critical.  (CDN sent an Action Alert on this yesterday).
HOME Act hearing on February 27                  
HB366, the HOME Act, will be heard before the House Environmental Matters Committee on February 27, 2014.  This legislation make it illegal for landlords to deny someone a lease based solely on their source of income.  CDN has been working on this legislation as part of the HOME Act coalition for several years.  There is a version of the legislation HB1098 crafted by the landlords, which will also be heard on February 27.  The HOME Act coalition is in serious negotiations with the landlords regarding HB1098, but reports there is a long way to go.  As these bills move through the House, we will keep you posted on any action needed.  
Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund clears the Senate, and making its way through the House of Delegates                  
SB137 passed the Senate in January, and there is a hearing on the bill in the House (HB1024) on February 19.  This legislation reorganizes the Rural Maryland Prosperity Fund to include dollars for nonprofit community development organizations in the 18 rural counties.  There is also funding for other important initiatives in those 18 counties.  The Fund itself currently does not have funding, but the Rural Maryland Council is working on that through other channels and will keep us informed of any action needed.  
Baltimore City Committee: Homestead Tax Credit Carry Over
During the summer of 2013, CDN's City Committee went through a process to determine its recommendations to the Mayor to accomplish her goal of bringing in 10,000 families in 10 years.  Of the 4 initiatives that rose to the top was the idea of transferring the Homestead Tax Credit if a resident owner of a house in Baltimore City moves from one house to another within in the City.  HB920 accomplishes this task by making the tax credit a "carry over" to the next house. There is a hearing on the bill on 2/27 and City Committee members will be testifying in favor of the legislation. (By the way, it is the intent of CDN to organize each region of the state in a similar manner, so it is possible to support regional  initiatives. If you are interested in participating in your region, please let us know.)
As always, please let me know if you have questions or thoughts on any of the items in this e-newsletter.  We want to hear from you!  Also, please let me know if you are interested in serving on our Policy Committee.
  
Thanks!
  

Odette Ramos
Executive Director
Community Development Network of Maryland
  

ABOUT CDN:

 

 The Community Development Network of Maryland, formerly the Maryland ABCD Network, is a member organization of over 130 nonprofits, small businesses, and individuals interested and actively participating in community development across the state.  CDN's mission is to engage and strengthen Maryland's community development industry and encourage comprehensive community development through advocacy, capacity building and partnerships.

 

CDN just completed a strategic planning process.  The summary of the strategic plan can be found on our website here.

 

More details about the strategic priorities of CDN and how members can be involved and benefit are forthcoming.

           

Other legislation CDN is interested in:
  
HB268 requires LLCs to provide additional contact information.  CDN is interested in this so that it will be easier to find an owner of a problem property if that property is owed by an LLC. This bill failed in committee this week.
  
HB451 is DHCD's bill which adds organizations who can provide healthy food in food deserts as eligible for funding through the Neighborhood BusinessWorks program. CDN supports the initiative because adding healthy food in food deserts also sparks other community development. This bill passed the House on 2nd reader, we expect passage on 3rd reader soon and then it will head to the Senate.
  
HB274 says that banks would only be able to go after a former owner of a house sold at short sale for the loss for up to 180 days. Currently the limit is 12 years. CDN is interested because as it currently stands households are deterred from pursing a short sale in the face of this burden. This bill is still in the Environmental Matters committee in the House.
  
HB595 makes an exception for the "arms length" sale rule in the cases of soon to be foreclosed properties for CDFIs.  There is a CDFI in Boston that buys the note from families in trouble of foreclosure and sells it back to the family at the reduced rate.  They are planning on coming in to Maryland to do the same and need this exemption. The hearing is today (2/19) on this legislation.
  
HB829/SB982 makes a preference for multijurisdictional applicants to the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust.  CDN supports with an amendment put in by DHCD to get rid of "preference" so that all applicants are on an equal playing field. The hearing on this bill is tomorrow (2/20).
  
CDN's General Operating Dollars policy agenda item:
  
CDN feels it is important to have a fund at the state level where operating dollars are available for community development nonprofits. Over the summer, we conducted extensive research about similar funds in other states, as well as figuring out if a budget allocation, or a % added to a transaction would be best.  There are still questions remaining as to who qualifies, how distributed, etc.  We anticipate having something to report and act on in time for the 2015 state legislature.
Housing Day has been rescheduled to February 25.  Please go to the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition's website for more information and to register. The link is here.
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS:
On the bottom left corner of the General Assembly website (here), is a link that says "Voice My Opinion."  Click there.  It is a handy tool to let you know who your Delegates and Senators are and their contact information.