Friday Five | May 12, 2023

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


1. State Supreme Court overturns digital ad tax ruling

Maryland’s highest court overturned a lower court ruling involving a controversial internet ad tax.

The order issued by the Supreme Court of Maryland overturns an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge’s ruling that the tax was unconstitutional. In its four-page order, the court remanded the case back to Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Alison Asti and ordered her to dismiss the case brought by Comcast of California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia LLC and others.

The court is expected to issue a full opinion at a later date. On Tuesday night, the order said the circuit court “lacked jurisdiction over this action because the appellees failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.”

The law – the first of its kind in the nation – was passed in 2020 and would impose a tiered tax on internet ad revenue in Maryland. Companies reporting $100 million of gross global annual revenue would be subject to a 2.5% levy. Tax rates max out at 10% for companies reporting more than $15 billion in gross global revenue.

Read the full story here.


2. Here’s how the Federal Reserve’s latest quarter-point interest rate hike impacts your money

The final sprint to get legal cannabis products in the hands of Maryland adults who want them is under way.

After voters last year overwhelmingly approved the legalization of recreational cannabis, and the General Assembly rushed to pass a comprehensive plan to make it happen, Governor Wes Moore’s signing of the law Wednesday marked the final step to create and regulate a potentially multibillion-dollar industry.

“It’s not a complete rewrite. We’re building off of what already exists,” said Will Tilburg, acting director of the Maryland Cannabis Administration.

Some of the changes in the law were immediate, like rebranding the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission as the Maryland Cannabis Administration. Others will happen in the next eight weeks – from converting medical cannabis businesses into combined medical and adult-use operations to starting a statewide ad campaign that lets consumers know the rules, such as that recreational use is limited to people 21 and up and that driving under the influence of cannabis remains illegal.

Read the full story here.

Marijuana is legal in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, can my employer test me?

Marijuana is legal to consume, but not at work. In D.C., Maryland and Virginia, employees can get in trouble with their employer and the law for consuming the drug at the workplace or for coming to work impaired. And employers are still allowed to require employees to be drug tested.

In many cases, the employer is allowed to deny an applicant or take disciplinary action against an employee based on the results. However, some employment protections exist in D.C. and Virginia, particularly for people who hold medical marijuana cards.

What to know about the legal landscape of cannabis.


3. Moore signs bills to attract technology projects, increase banking access

State grants to attract technology projects and a measure to increase banking access for low- and moderate-income communities were among Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s top economic development priorities during the last legislative session and two of the nearly 200 bills he signed into law Monday.

“I want Maryland to be the hub of innovation and the home for innovators,” Moore said before signing the bills.

Moore touted Maryland’s appeal for a variety of types of businesses, given its more than two million acres of farmland and over 3,000 miles of shoreline, and its federal labs, private organizations and top-tier research institutions.

Read the full story here.


4. U.S. prices stay high, showing inflation pressures persist

Consumer prices in the United States rose again in April, and measures of underlying inflation stayed high – a sign that further declines in inflation are likely to be slow and bumpy.

Prices increased 0.4% from March to April, the government said Wednesday, up from a 0.1% rise from February to March. Compared with a year earlier, prices climbed 4.9%, down slightly from March’s year-over-year increase.

The nation’s inflation rate has steadily cooled since peaking at 9.1% last June but remains far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate.

Read the press release here.


5. Baltimore small businesses to get Comcast RISE grants

Comcast Tuesday announced a new round of 100 businesses in Baltimore that will receive RISE grants, a comprehensive package that includes business consultation services, educational resources, a $5,000 monetary grant, creative production and a technology makeover.

Comcast RISE (Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment) is committed to supporting the growth of all small businesses, while advancing the objectives of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as community investment.

In addition to Ice Queens, a mother-daughter-run business that serves New Orleans-style shaved ice, more than 80 Baltimore small businesses have already received marketing and technology resources through Comcast RISE since the program’s founding in 2020.

Read the full story here.

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