A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. Maryland Gov. Hogan signs redrawn congressional districts map, ending monthlong legal and legislative battle
On Monday, Governor Hogan signed a redrawn congressional map by the General Assembly after state Judge Lynne Battaglia tossed out the original version. Judge Battaglia ruled the original map to be extremely partisan and in violation of the Maryland Constitution which states that legislative districts must be compact in form and respect natural boundaries.
“This is a huge win for democracy and for improvement in the process,” Hogan said during an Annapolis news conference. “I think gerrymandering is a cancer on our democracy, no matter which party does it.”
Although this redistricting case ended, another continues in the Maryland Court of Appeals where Republican lawmakers are seeking to overthrow a map of the state’s 47 General Assembly districts, also claiming democratic advantage. On Monday, the judge appointed to present findings in the case recommended that it be dismissed for lack of evidence. His recommendation will now be considered by the court before it rules at an unknown future date.
Read the full story here.
2. With congressional redistricting done, Hogan has dozens of other veto decisions to make
With Hogan’s signature on a new set of congressional district boundaries on Monday, he now has dozens of other bills to act on before the 90-day session ends on Monday at midnight. Sitting on Hogan’s desk waiting for a signature are many bills directly impacting the Maryland business community, including the Time to Care Act and the Climate Solutions Now Act, which would both result in additional costs to businesses already struggling to recover from the economic shock brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The General Assembly expects Hogan to act on these bills by the end of the week, giving the legislature enough time to override any potential vetoes before the session ends.
To read the full article and view the full list of bills pending action click here.
We need your help! As Governor Hogan debates his decision on SB 275, harmful legislation adding $1.6 billion in new payroll taxes for Maryland employers and employees, URGE YOUR SENATORS TO SUPPORT HIS DECISION should he choose to veto this bill. Act here.
3. Maryland drivers say gas tax suspension not providing enough relief
With just 9 days left of the 30-day suspension on gas tax enacted by the Maryland General Assembly on March 18, there is increased concern from consumers who expect prices to spike again if a long-term solution is not put in place by April 16. The temporary suspension gave much-needed tax relief to Marylanders, resulting in a nearly 10% reduction in gas prices within the first four days of the suspension, according to GasBuddy, a website that monitors gas prices nationally and locally. However, many residents are now questioning the effectiveness of the tax holiday, arguing the economy needs long-term solutions and not a temporary stop gap.
Read the full story here.
Yesterday evening, Delegate Brenda Thiam from Washington County tried and failed to extend Maryland’s gasoline tax holiday by amending Senate Bill 215, which would have extended the tax break until Memorial Day. However, there was pushback from other Maryland lawmakers who said that extending the tax holiday would cost an additional $150 million and hurt Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund used to improve roads, highways and bridges. There are no further discussions on the next steps to provide relief at the pump for Marylanders as April 16 approaches and gas prices continue to be sky-high.
Read the full story here.
4. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Small business owners are feeling the impact of inflation, yet remain optimistic
In collaboration with MetLife, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducts a quarterly online survey of 750 small business owners and decision-makers designed to assess the nation’s economy and identify where businesses are succeeding and where they are facing challenges. The 2022 Small Business Index released last week showed that despite a big jump in concern for inflation, small business owners are feeling good about the health of their businesses and expectations for the future, leading to a new pandemic-era high score of 64.1 for the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index. About 61% of small business owners say their business is in good standing and anticipate increasing revenues in the coming months, but an even larger percentage (85%), expressed concern about the impact of inflation.
“Inflation is top-of-mind for small businesses as it continues to limit their purchasing power, forcing small businesses to raise their prices and absorb higher costs within already thin margins,” said U.S. Chamber Vice President of Small Business Policy Tom Sullivan. “The Administration and Congress need to focus on easing the burden on small businesses by reducing inflationary pressures and addressing the worker shortage crisis to ensure continued recovery on Main Street.”
View the full report here.
5. 2022 Legislative Session Recap by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce
That’s a wrap! In the days following Sine Die, our government affairs team will provide a comprehensive expert analysis of the legislation relevant to the business community that passed or failed. Join us on April 20 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a 2022 Legislative Session Recap as we walk through our initial thoughts and observations and answer your top concerns via Q&A.
Don’t miss the business event of the year!
At Inspire MD on May 12th at the Baltimore Museum, we’ll honor Maryland’s most prominent and successful business leaders and celebrate all that makes the Maryland business community unique. Reserve your spot now and be part of this celebratory, experiential night!