Public Policy Update: Maryland and Montgomery County

2007 Maryland Legislative Session

The 2007 Maryland General Assembly session began on Wednesday, January 10, 2007. We are back to a one-party system where Democrats control both the Governor's office and General Assembly. In both the House and Senate about 25% of the legislators are brand new so no one is quite sure what to expect this legislative session. For the Montgomery County Delegation there are 8 new Delegates and 3 new Senators, although 1 new Senator is a former Delegate. There are a lot of new faces. GCAAR will be scheduling meetings throughout the session to get to know the new legislators and help advocate for issues important to the association and its members. The Maryland Association of REALTORS® in conjunction with the various local boards will be turning its focus specifically on affordable housing issues this session.

Housing Subsidy Fight -
Montgomery County Judge Rules Landlord Not Required to Accept Section 8 Housing Voucher
County Executive Ike Leggett has announced that Montgomery County will be appealing to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals a Judge's decision that ruled in favor of a landlord, Glenmont Hills Associates Privacy World, who refused to accept a Section 8 Housing Voucher from a renter attempting to lease an apartment at the Glenmont Metro Centre complex. Since the Section 8 Housing Voucher program is a voluntary Federal program, the judge ruled that the County could not force a landlord to accept the voucher as payment or even part of the payment for rent. However, Montgomery County's law states that landlords may not discriminate based on source of income and therefore the County's Human Rights Commission had fined the owners for violation of the County's law. The judge subsequently has reversed that ruling and now the County is appealing that decision

To read the various news articles related to this issue, please visit:
Judge: County can’t make landlord take housing vouchers
and
Leggett Challenges Voucher Case Ruling

Montgomery County Council Votes for Notice Provision Instead of Moratorium
On Tuesday, January 30, the County Council followed the Planning Housing and Economic Development Committee's (PHED) lead and voted for a notice provision instead of the original proposal for a full development moratorium. Developers and anyone seeking to submit preliminary plans on subdivisions have been put on notice that all plans filed starting from January 1, 2007 through August 15, 2007 will be subject to the new growth policies to be decided later this Spring/Summer. The full council reviewed the amended legislation and voted unanimously (9-0) to approve the watered down proposal which also grandfathers any projects that were submitted prior to January 1, 2007. Many councilmembers who were not willing to vote for the proposal in its original form, expressed gratitude that preliminary plans already filed with the Planning board will be able to move forward. The council felt that the PHED committee took into account many of the hardships expressed at the public hearing and ultimately came out with legislation that was fair across the board. Now the council will turn its focus throughout the Spring to reviewing the County Growth Policy. GCAAR will be monitoring all of the issues associated with the Growth Policy very closely.