Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

What’s the rush tell me what is happening…

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Sun reportstoday on the County Council’s struggle with Ken Ulman’s Green Legislation.

Council Chairman Calvin Ball, …, and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat, appear interested in voting Monday on the environmental bills. [of course] But western county Republican Councilman Greg Fox is campaigning to table them….Mary Kay Sigaty and … Courtney Watson, haven’t publicly committed themselves.

“We have to work through these issues as much as we can and see what we can accomplish,” Ball said after the session.

At Watson’s urging, council members compiled 13 questions on the two commercial building bills. Ulman administration officials vowed to try to satisfy any objections with amendments and explanations.

“I’m not prepared to vote on it tonight,” Sigaty said. “I don’t know what we’ll be doing.”

Fox said he is not trying to harm the legislation but feels the council needs more time. He handed out information sheets about similar laws, including a reprint of a May 8 Fox News story about major operation problems in green municipal buildings built in Seattle.

Based on the multiple people I have spoken with about this and what I understand to be the Council’s concerns I think tabling this legislation until Sept/Oct is a good idea.  I think the legislation will unanimously pass and.  So, what is the rush and why the backoffice pressure on the Council members?  Let them work through it.  Don’t get me wrogn talking points and “myth busters” are good ways to help the Council get the facts straight but don’t bully this legislation through.

Who am I kidding.  Sigaty, Watson and Fox are not the kind of people who can be bullid.  Without those three having satisfied themselves (not each other) this will be tabled.

The council wants to get this done the right way.  I don’t want any unintended consequences so Ulman should back off and give the Council time to review, digest, and offer amendments.  Despite what the County Executive thinks he did not submit perfect legislation – how could he.  He has to satisfy 5 other people that it is perfect – that is not an easy thing.  Let the process play out.  We will all be better off for it.

Now after it is passed and Green buildings start popping up all over the County then home owners and businesses should start saving lots of money on energy costs, right?  WRONG!

Mr. O’Malley’s “consumer friendly” PSC is permitting rate coupling.  See the Sun story here.  FreeMarket discusses it here and Jim Adams comment on Freemarket’s post is worth reading.

Essentially, the more you save on electric use the less money the electric utility makes so the “consumer friendly” PSC will allow them to charge us more for transmission costs to make up the difference.  I THOUGHT THEY DEREGULATED IN MARYLAND!

So, anyway this is just more reason for the Council to table this legislation.  The cost savings these builders/owners would experience are no longer there.

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8 Responses to “What’s the rush tell me what is happening…”

  1. timactual said

    “What’s the rush tell me what is happening…”

    From JC Superstar?
    (“What’s the buzz
    Tell me what’s a-happening”)

  2. Timactual,

    Yes, exactly… Isn’t it a great soundtrack too.

  3. caroleejam said

    One mistake in the rush happenings of the county environmental package is that the biggest development likely in the foreseeable future, Downtown Columbia (Town Center), will have much residential and mixed development that the legislation does not appear to be anticipating. There will be substantal tax breaks for commercial development, but nothing has been reported for residential, an enormous inequity in an essentially suburban community. Ulman shot from the hip as the Chamber of Commerce pressed hard for changes such as no requirements for 20,000 and up square foot buildings. Ulman immediately said he would raise the minimum to 50,000. Now we may see small supermarkets and most non-big box stores would not have green requirements if they were stand alone ( not under the Mall or shopping center roof).

    The legislation mandates the lowest LEED standard, certified, for those buildings that will come under it. Do we only want that when the silver, gold, and platinum LEED ratings would truly produce energy and water savings among other things

    There seems to be little thought or discussion about retrofitting buildings and residences. Maybe this is where tax benefits could be better used.

  4. Keep Up the Good Work said

    But if Howard County doesn’t hurry, Ulman can’t take credit for being on the first counties in Maryland to do it! Of course, I am sure he would take credit for it regardless (speaking of, we should all thank Ulman for letting the sun rise this morning).

  5. SallySells said

    Wasn’t Ken a young engineer assisting Al Gore in the invention of the internet?

  6. observer said

    the big question I have with this bill is why are certain public buildings exempt? sounds like if it is a good idea for the private sector it should be mandated upon the public sector as well? but it would cost too much you say? that’s why it shouldn’t be forced upon the private sector. Sure they are only mandating the lowest rating now, but how long before we hear Ken say, “WE CAN DO BETTER, WE WANT GOLD OR PLATINUM”. Hey let’s chase some more commercial development out of the county and the state, that is a great way to raise revenue, yeah, I like it! Please, how long before we can get some adults in charge down there?

  7. […] W. Keelan from the Howard County Maryland Blog presents What’s the rush tell me what is happening?.  The rush he is referring to is Howard County Executive Ken Ulman’s push to pass a series […]

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