Local Government Relations

When we say we offer
LOCAL government relations services,
what do we mean…?

Whether you call them counties, boroughs, parishes, or municipalities, there is almost always a local jurisdiction that helps to govern some part of everyday life. These local jurisdictions vary by state, county, and city all across the country. Just to make matters more confusing, each local government has a different way of governing. They have different names, different make-ups, different responsibilities, and different strategies for getting things done.

Compass Government Relations has just that – relations with those who make the decisions in local governments right here in the Mid-Atlantic. We understand the ins and outs of the local governments where it matters most to you and want to help you navigate the process.

In Maryland, three forms of government exist: county commissioners, code home rule, or charter.

County Commissioners: Under the county commissioners form of government, the General Assembly is authorized to legislate for a county. While a board of county commissioners exercises both executive and legislative functions defined by State law, and may enact ordinances, its legislative power is limited to those areas authorized by the General Assembly, enabling legislation, or public local laws.

Calvert, Carroll, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Somerset, and Washington.

Code Home Rule: Since 1915, counties have had the option of governing under code home rule, which enables them to exercise broad local legislative authority.

Allegany, Caroline, Charles, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Worcester.

Charter. The charter government separates the executive branch from the legislative branch. Most typically, it consists of a county executive and a county council.

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Howard,

Montgomery, Prince George’s, Talbot, and Wicomico.

The state of Delaware is comprised of only three counties: New Castle, Kent and Sussex.

New Castle County

New Castle County relies on a County Executive and a County Council to manage local affairs. The County Council is the legislative body for New Castle County and is made up of 12 members elected from each of the 12 districts, and the council president who is elected at-large. The county council is responsible for passing laws that help with the health and welfare of residents including topics like the budget, planning and zoning, and public entities such as public libraries.

Kent County
Different from the other counties in Delaware, Kent County’s local government is called the Levy Court. Kent County Levy Court consists of six commissioners elected by the district and one who is elected at large. They largely deal with zoning and development issues.

Sussex County
Sussex County, Delaware is governed by a County Council and a County administrator. The County Council consists of five members elected from five geographic districts. Each member serves a 4-year term. The County Council is responsible for the budget, policies impacting residents’ health and safety and growth and development goals for the county. The County Administrator is appointed by the Council and oversees the budget and policy implementation on behalf of the Council. Unlike other DE local governments, the County Administrator oversees services such as public safety, planning and zoning, and tax collection.

DC local government functions like many local governments with Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. However, their relationship with the federal government sets them apart from other local jurisdictions.

Executive- The Mayor
The current DC Mayor is Muriel Bowser. Elected for 4-year terms, the mayor is responsible for the daily administration of the district government. This includes overseeing government agencies such as the Metropolitan Police Department, public schools, the Health Department, and the Department of Planning and Economic Development. The Mayor can approve or veto laws passed by the Council and is ultimately responsible for executing those laws.

Legislative- The Council of the District of Columbia
The city of DC is split into 8 wards, or districts, divided up by population. The council is made up of 1 member from each ward, as well as 5 at-large members, including a chairman, that represent the entire district. Members serve four-year terms, with staggered elections taking place every two years. The Council is responsible for making laws on behalf of DC residents on a variety of topics including crime, education, parking, and the budget. In 2016, DC finally got control over its budget, separating it from the federal budget. Once the budget has passed the council, it is now submitted to Congress for a 30-day passive review, not requiring Congress to act for the budget to take effect.

National Representation
Taxation without representation! Famously, DC has no voting representation in the federal government. Due to their incorporated status, DC is only allowed to elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton currently serves on the Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.


Brace Yourselves: Session Is Coming

The Maryland General Assembly convenes on January 10, 2024 & the Delaware General Assembly convenes on January 9, 2024.
Though it might seem like January is out of sight, strategic advocacy takes time to prepare and create a plan for our team to attack as soon as the cannon fires.Choose your weapon to fight for your cause this Session:

Patch-through phone calls (“PTP Calls”) are an important grassroots advocacy tool. Under a PTP Calls program, targeted legislators would receive phone calls from their constituents advocating for/against a bill/amendment/policy.
Compass PR can help design and execute an email campaign that enables individuals to send emails to legislator’s offices urging a position on a specific issue. We help develop the messages, build the arguments, and create materials to deliver and amplify our client’s message across a variety of channels.
Understanding public opinion is critical – as public sentiment can have a significant impact on real policy decisions. Polling helps to garner a deeper understanding of the public’s thoughts, opinions, and beliefs on specific topics or issues. Compass Public Relations Partners will help design your questionnaire, collect the data, and provide valuable insight into the responses.
A coalition is the “joining of forces” between two or more independent organizations with shared interests. Coalitions are a great way to gather influence over specific subject matter because they can exert more power than a single organization alone. However, building and maintaining a coalition can feel like a daunting task – Compass has the expertise to guide you through the process!
Make sure you are equipped for the upcoming Session!

Maryland 529 Plan

Any parent or family member of a child probably knows that 529 plans can be powerful tax-advantaged tools for saving for educational expenses, especially those incurred in college. However, they can achieve some potentially helpful estate planning goals as well.

  1. Special rules allow for gifting into 529s up to five times the annual gift exclusion amount (this year, the yearly maximum is $17,000/person), so they can be particularly useful for people wanting to make larger gifts to loved ones who may have current or future educational expenses.
  2. Since owners of accounts can change beneficiaries among certain extended family members, they can develop pools of funds available for future generations of college students as well.
  3. Finally, as of 2024, new rules allow for up to $30,000 per beneficiary to be rolled over into Roth IRA for accounts that have been open for more than 15 years. Though we’re all waiting to see exactly how the new laws are applied, this adds flexibility for beneficiaries down the road.

Questions about how these accounts can help you achieve multiple goals for your family at once? Reach out to Compass Law and we’ll be happy to help.



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