Friday Five | July 23, 2021

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

1. Effort launched to repeal tax on digital, streaming sales 

On Thursday, Republicans in the Maryland Senate announced a new online petition campaign to repeal the sales tax on digital downloads and streaming services in the coming legislative session. The digital sales tax bill has been controversial since its passage by the Maryland General Assembly in 2020. Supporters argue Maryland should adopt this vital modernization of our tax code and treat online retailers the same as brick-and-mortar retailers. Opponents reject this new tax, saying taxing digital download and streaming services is unnecessary.

Read the full story here.

2. Maryland awards $30M in grants to expand broadband internet

On Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland is awarding nearly $30 million to projects that aim to expand broadband internet access to underserved communities. This round of funding comes from the state’s $300 million investment into broadband technology through funds from the American Rescue Plan that will expand broadband to more than 12,000 households across 18 counties. The Office of Statewide Broadband, established under the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, developed a statewide plan that ensures 98% universal access by the end of 2025 to address the inequalities people face in accessing the internet.

To read more, click here.

3. Maryland reopening 32 American Job Centers  

Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson announced Monday that the state’s 32 American Job Centers (AJC), which served thousands of job seekers and businesses virtually during the pandemic, are reopening physical locations to provide in-person services. The state’s network of AJC’s offers employment, training and business services to help job seekers. It also offers individualized employment guidance from career specialists to help job seekers identify their interests, assess their skills and abilities and explore career opportunities.

To read more, click here.

4. Baltimore County small business owners discuss benefits, gaps in federal funds 

More than a dozen small business owners participated in a roundtable discussion on Monday with Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, shedding some light on the shortfalls of the CARES Act funding they received last year. In particular, some business owners said that when applying for PPP loans, they got approved for much less than they expected. Cardin acknowledged that there have been issues related to businesses receiving a much smaller amount than what they were entitled to. To fix this, Cardin proposed legislation that would make the changes retroactive so that those who have already received a loan can request a recalculation and receive the increased benefit. With $160 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan making its way to Baltimore County, Olszewski said he wanted to hear from the business community to understand their ongoing challenges and allocate funds more efficiently this time around.

To read more, click here.

5. Maryland rises 19 spots in CNBC’s list of best states for business 

Maryland jumped 19 spots, from #31 in 2019 to #12, in CNBC’s annual list of America’s best states for business. Maryland improved in 8 of 10 categories that CNBC uses to rank competitiveness. The most significant improvement was in infrastructure, where the state now ranks at #8 compared to #41 in 2019. CNBC attributed the increase to Maryland’s reliable power grid and widespread access to broadband internet, which were both newly added metrics this year.

“‘Maryland is open for business hasn’t just been our slogan, we have changed the entire mission of state government to be unabashedly pro-jobs, and delivered one of the biggest economic turnarounds in America,” Governor Larry Hogan said.

Read the full story here.

EVENT: 2021 Congressional Roundup feat. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Sept. 22 from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Join us for a premier virtual event where you hear directly from policy experts and Maryland’s congressional delegation regarding the current legislative and electoral landscape and how it directly impacts the business community. View all confirmed speakers here.


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