MACO Conference Kicks off in Ocean City
OCEAN CITY, MD – The Maryland Association of Counties annual meeting’s opening session kicked off Thursday in Ocean City.
The event brings together, local lawmakers, county officials, and federal lobbying groups and politicians; serving as a temperature check of how the state is handling business, and what counties need from the federal government in order to succeed.
Senator Van Hollen spoke at the event, and told 47ABC , when he speaks to county-level officials he said they need more funding for covid services and staffing, who faced serious deficits running extended healthcare services like vaccine administration and testing.
He says the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, as well as increased federal aid, will help local municipalities catch up and come back this fiscal year, but says covid has outlined other priorities that he believes federal dollars can help with.
“We are hearing from counties huge unmet infrastructure modernization needs especially broadband and so the federal gov is investing billions in trying to connect more people from small business to broadband and to make it affordable,” Senator Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen says he’s also hearing which counties are desperately in need of upgrades to infrastructure in the form of roads and bridges.
The Senator said he used his speech at the conference to underscore how the federal funding as part of the American rescue plan- and the infrastructure plan are not just catching America up to other standards, but are also setting up systems that can handle the increased stress of a warming planet.
“When we talk building back better that means building more resiliency into our roads it doesn’t make a lot of sense to build a new road if it’s not built to last or survive a flood and be above the flood plain so yes a big part of what we need to do on climate is deal with the impacts,” he said.
He said he has been encouraged by the resiliency of the eastern shore and Maryland as a whole was able to show through the pandemic.
He believes with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, those better systems will be built and will help with providing jobs and new economic opportunities.
He says having stronger broadband access can allow for Maryland to catch up with office environments that are shifting to a hybrid, in-office, and remote work, allowing those who work from home in Maryland to be confident on the internet that their jobs rely on.