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- Last Year's Accomplishments
Last Year's Accomplishments
July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022
A primary mission of the Army Alliance is to advocate for APG with state and federal elected officials. As one of our core responsibilities, the efforts of the Alliance have directly resulted in over $300 million of federal funding for APG and regional programs supporting APG’s missions. Through interviews with regional and APG leadership, the Alliance identifies critical areas of need where we can have an impact. Our past efforts have addressed new facilities and test capabilities, maintaining or growing APG missions, and development of programs to provide for the next generation APG workforce. Many initiatives take several years to generate results and so our summary of our legislative efforts for 2021-2022 includes updates to efforts started in prior years. Below is a summary of the new initiatives the Alliance started this year along with an update on those issues which we continue to purse with annual incremental success.
State Legislative Update
The Army Alliance continues to advocate for legislation that supports our efforts to continue development of the robust workforce needed for Aberdeen Proving Ground, the defense contractors in the region, and the broader business community. We have focused our attention on supporting military retirees relocating to our region for employment at APG or surrounding businesses. These retirees have unique technical skills and existing security clearances. Maryland is competing for these individuals with other states that offer complete or more significant military retirement tax exemptions. At this time, the following states exempt military retirement pay from State income tax – and the list grows every year – putting Maryland at an increasing disadvantage in efforts to attract this top talent: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
With Maryland’s political climate, we have focused over the last several years on advocating successfully for incremental change in Maryland personal income tax law to exempt military retirement income. Continuing this approach, we were joined this year by police officers and fire fighters, who were the principal beneficiaries of a bill that would have increased by $5,000 the subtraction modification (deduction) available to military retirees. We approached other Alliances requesting their support for this legislation, and we are pleased to note that the Southern Maryland Alliance and the Fort Meade Alliance also supported this year’s bill, SB 130 / HB 461. However, like last year, the legislation passed in the Senate, but did not move in the House of Delegates despite the bill originating in that Chamber.
Instead, Governor Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones enacted the largest overall tax relief package in Maryland history with $1.86 billion in relief to certain Maryland retirees, small businesses and low-income families. The retiree tax relief is not directed at military retirees; instead, it is available to any retiree 65 or older making up to $100,000 in retirement income. While this package is certainly beneficial, our efforts have focused on individuals who would not be at retirement age generally and would continue to work and contribute income, property, and sales tax to Maryland. We will continue our efforts again next year – without significant improvement on this front, Maryland will continue to lose out on recruiting top talent retiring out of the military and could be seen as generally less favorable as military families determine where they would like to have their last duty station before retirement.
Lastly, we would like to thank Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti and others for sponsoring House Bill 617, which the Army Alliance formally supported in its Senate hearing. This successful legislation will provide a property tax credit for the surviving spouse of a fallen service member.
Federal Legislative Initiatives
The Army Alliance has been very successful from its inception in working collaboratively with the Maryland federal delegation to receive targeted funding or critical legislation to support the people and missions on APG. Thanks go to Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, Anthony Brown, and Andy Harris; and Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen – and their staff – who have supported our initiatives year after year with significant success.
The number one issue that impacts APG – and all military installations across the country – is the failure of Congress to pass a budget in a timely fashion resulting in the use of Continuing Resolutions (CRs) to fund the Government while budget politics have played out. CRs are particularly damaging to organizations at APG since they do not permit funding of “new start” programs. When your primary mission is the research and development of new weapon systems to combat an ever-changing enemy, budget delays can significantly and negatively impact overall mission. We lend our voice with so many others, including the Department of Defense, but expect that CRs will continue to be the norm into the foreseeable future.
The Army Alliance’s top legislative initiative continues to be funding of the Army Facilities Sustainment Restoration and Modernization (FSRM) account sufficiently to provided sustained funding for the badly needed demolition of contaminated buildings at APG. APG received all the funds requested in FY21 and the Army continues to commit to funding APG demolition until all at-risk buildings are complete. The Alliance has great appreciation for the delegation’s past funding support which has led to the complete demolition of one building block (3300 section) but continued emphasis and attention to this funding is required to maintain the momentum already underway. APG’s FY21 and FY22 funding has permitted the Army APG Garrison to start demolition on the next group of 32 contaminated buildings. The overall effort will demolish 63 contaminated buildings and slabs for a total 774,035 square feet, ultimately providing additional space for new missions in the future. For FY23, we will continue our efforts to maintain sufficient funding to continue the demolition efforts, as well as report language emphasizing the need to continue funding until all contaminated/at-risk facilities are removed.
This year marked the return of appropriations earmarks to the federal legislative process and the Alliance was successful in lobbying for the inclusion of $250,000 in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Army for the Discovery Center at Water’s Edge in the Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Appropriations Bill.
The Chemical Security and Analysis Center (CSAC) was established at APG in 2006 by Presidential Directive to identify and assess chemical threats and vulnerabilities in the United States and develop the best responses to potential chemical hazards. CSAC supports the security of our nation by providing a crucial knowledge repository of chemical threat information, design and execution of laboratory and field tests, and a science-based threat and risk analysis capability. CSAC’s presence on the Edgewood Area of APG allows close collaboration with the Army scientists and engineers that are part of Team CBRNE.
Because the CSAC was formed by directive and not legislation, there is no regulatory requirement or authorization for DHS to fund the organization. For the last several fiscal years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget request has proposed the closure of Chemical Security and Analysis Center (CSAC) at APG or failed to sufficiently fund its mission. The Alliance worked closely with the Maryland federal congressional delegation to successfully provide interim funding to keep the CSAC funded and operational until a more permanent solution could be agreed upon. This year, after years of pressure from Congress at the urging of the Alliance, DHS has submitted a legislative proposal to Congress to permanently authorize the CSAC in statute. Therefore, this year we are supporting DHS’s efforts to permanently authorize the CSAC in statute in order to protect its critical mission at APG for years to come.
Lastly, the Army Alliance is starting a new initiative in collaboration with the Southern Maryland Naval Alliance which supports Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Military research facilities and laboratories compete with many other priorities including barracks and other direct Soldier support facilities for limited restoration, modernization, and construction funding. Such funding constraints do not just impact APG’s ability to maintain the infrastructure necessary to perform their critical RDT&E activities, but also their ability to recruit top quality scientists, engineers, and other researchers.
As a result of these budget realities, APG RDT&E tenants have increasingly looked to the Laboratory Revitalization Program under DoD Military Construction as a critical alternative source of funding to improve readiness, to upgrade communication infrastructure, and modernize RDT&E facilities in order to support Army Futures Command. As a DoD unique RDT&E facility and for APG to continue to provide its stellar support to the future Warfighter, it is imperative that its facilities continue to remain stateof-the-art and capable of adapting to emerging threats through timely availability of funding through such resources as the Laboratory Revitalization Program. Therefore, we are lending our voice with other military communities supporting DoD research installations to seek both increased allocation of funding to this Program as well as raise the individual project funding ceiling.
We are optimistic with the support of the strong Maryland delegation that we will see traction on all our initiatives this year. Your support of the Army Alliance supports these key initiatives that ensure the sustainment and hopefully growth of APG into the future.