A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. Governor Moore announces $15 million available for small business relief
Governor Moore on Monday announced a $15 million commitment to minority-led small business lender Lendistry to provide relief to Maryland small businesses. The commitment is the latest investment through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, through which Maryland is deploying up to $198 million in federal relief.
“As the first Community Development Fund Institution to begin offering loans through Maryland’s State Small Business Credit Initiative program, Lendistry will unlock opportunities for small businesses to grow and expand in the state,” said Gov. Moore. “Through this infusion of funds, the state can work with lenders to reach even more businesses that need investment to support their success.”
Since Lendistry was established in 2015, it has deployed more than $8.9 billion in small business loans and grants across the country and supported more than 595,000 small businesses. It has allocated more than 74% of the funding to minority-owned businesses.
Read the full press release here.
2. Biden, McCarthy push forward towards deal on U.S. debt ceiling
President Biden and top U.S. congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday underscored their determination to reach a deal soon to raise the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and avoid an economically catastrophic default.
After a monthslong standoff, the Democratic president and the speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday agreed to negotiate directly on a deal. An agreement needs to be reached and passed by both chambers of Congress before the federal government runs out of money to pay its bills – as soon as June 1.
Republicans, who control the House by a 222-213 majority, for months had been insisting that Democrats agree to spending cuts in exchange for a deal to raise Congress’s self-imposed debt limit. The limit needs to be lifted regularly because the government spends more than it takes in taxes.
3. After committee chair’s resignation, Speaker announces shakeup in House leadership
Speaker of the House Adrienne A. Jones announced a series of changes to leadership in the House of Delegates on Wednesday, after a standing committee’s leader resigned.
And the domino effect of reassignments includes the speaker’s intention to nominate a new speaker pro tem in January, when the General Assembly reconvenes for its regular session.
Del. Kumar Barve, a veteran lawmaker who had been chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee since 2015, announced in April that he would leave the legislature after being nominated to serve on the Maryland Public Service Commission. That resignation took effect Wednesday.
His committee’s new chair will also hail from Montgomery County, Del. Marc Korman, who is the current House majority leader and a former House Appropriations subcommittee chair. Another Montgomery lawmaker, Del. David Moon, will become majority leader, the third-most powerful position in the chamber.
Read the other leadership announcements here.
4. U.S. agency proposes banning use of salary history in federal employment offers
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management proposed last week new regulations prohibiting the use of an applicant’s salary history in federal employment offers. The move would prevent the nation’s largest employer, the federal government, from considering previous compensation when setting pay for new federal employees in several pay systems. The proposed regulations aim to promote pay equity and eliminate the disproportionate impact on women and underserved communities caused by reliance on salary history.
If finalized as proposed, the regulations would support OPM’s strategic goal of positioning the federal government as a model employer advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the federal workforce. Currently, 21 U.S. states have laws or executive orders that regulate whether employers can seek, use, or discuss an applicant’s salary history.
The proposed regulations, in theory, put the federal government in a position to compete with other employers by helping ensure a job candidate is paid based on their skills or merit rather than their previous compensation.
5. OpenAI CEO embraces government regulation in Senate hearing
Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI – the company that developed ChatGPT – said the U.S. “might consider a combination of licensing and testing requirements for development and release of AI models above a threshold of capabilities.”
Altman; Christina Montgomery, chief privacy and trust officer of IBM; and Gary Marcus, a professor emeritus of psychology and neural science at New York University, were witnesses at a recent hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary to discuss oversight of AI.
The rapid advancement of AI systems like ChatGPT has spurred many top technologists and academics to call for the industry to pause some development – and to ask for government intervention if that doesn’t happen.