Friday Five | July 15, 2022

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. Maryland primary results may be delayed as mail-in votes are counted 

Maryland’s primary election is next Tuesday, but with the pandemic-era shift to mail-in voting and the state’s prohibition against counting ballots early, state officials say there may be a delay in election results. While it is difficult to predict what proportion of voters will vote by mail in the primary, there are signs it will be significant. As of Sunday, local election offices had received just over 115,000 mail-on ballots and nearly 500,000 people had requested mail-in ballots.

“Be patient,” advised Chairman of the Maryland State Board of Elections William G. Voelp. “Every legal vote will be counted, and then the state board of elections will certify based on not more than and not less than every legal vote being counted.”

However, with state regulations preventing election workers from even starting to count mailed-in votes until the Thursday after Election Day, it could be many days after July 19 until we see election results.

Read the full story here.

2. June inflation soared 9.1% amid high gas prices

Inflation continues to soar at its fastest pace in 40 years across many sectors of the economy, driven in large part by higher energy prices. According to a report released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor, the consumer price index increased 9.1% from a year ago in June and was 1.3% higher than in May. The last time inflation reached over 9% was November 1981. The June data showed significant price increases in food, energy and housing, growing fears of a possible recession.

“Inflation is our most pressing economic challenge. It is hitting almost every country in the world … Tackling inflation is my top priority — we need to make more progress, more quickly, in getting price increases under control,” President Biden said in a statement on Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

3. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: How fixing our worker shortage can fight inflation

The concern about inflation is top of mind right now for American consumers and business owners. According to the latest results from the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, 88% of small business owners are concerned about the impact of inflation. Another top concern for business owners is the labor shortage, which Chief Economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Curtis Dubay argues is one of the many things fueling inflation we can address. He talks about the direct link between fixing the worker shortage crisis and controlling inflation and how the government fits into the equation.

Read the full story here.

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4. Gov. Hogan announces $127 million in funding aimed at expanding broadband access in Maryland

Last Friday, Governor Hogan announced that Maryland is awarding $127.6 million in grants to internet service providers, education and community organizations and local jurisdictions to increase broadband access across the state.

“Our goal is to ensure universal broadband to every single person in every single corner in the state of Maryland,” Hogan said at a news conference in Harford County.

The effort is part of the state’s Connect Maryland initiative that will provide broadband service to an additional 15,000 households that have limited to no access. About $2.2 million of the funds have already been awarded to Harford County and a public-private partnership with Think Big-Networks, an internet service provider.

Read the full story here.

5. SDAT raises business personal property exemption from $2,500 to $20,000

On Monday, the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) announced that HB268, which raises the exemption from personal property assessment for all Maryland businesses from $2,500 to $20,000, has taken effect. This legislation will save 14,217 businesses from paying taxes on $44.2 million in assessment.

“Thanks to these legislative efforts, 42,000 of Maryland’s smallest businesses will not have to pay taxes on $55 million in assessment,” said SDAT Director Michael Higgs. “The department remains committed to playing a role in reducing taxes, supporting businesses and changing Maryland for the better.”

For more information visit the SDAT website.

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