Friday Five | September 17, 2021

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


1. Skilled workers are scarce, posing a challenge for Biden’s infrastructure plan

With the current shortage of skilled workers our country is facing, researchers and economists say companies will find it challenging to fill the millions of jobs expected to come from Biden’s infrastructure bill if passed by Congress. This legislation could generate new jobs in industries critical to keeping the nation’s public works system running and would add $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy over eight years. But with baby boomers aging out of the workforce and not enough young people entering the sectors, efforts to strengthen the nation’s highways, bridges and public transit could be set back.

A recent Chamber of Commerce survey found that 88% of commercial construction contractors reported moderate-to-high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers, and more than a third had to turn down work because of labor deficiencies. In addition to labor shortages, contractors have also faced a scarcity of supplies as prices soared for products like lumber and steel. According to an estimate from Construction Industry Resources, a data firm in Kentucky, the industry could face a shortage of at least 2 million workers through 2025.

Read the full story here.


2. Newly proposed regulations echo problems with Maryland’s Digital Ad Tax 

Last week legislators submitted proposed regulations for the digital advertising tax, approved earlier this year, to the state Joint Committee on Administrative Executive and Legislative Review, raising three issues on this new tax: definitional ambiguity, suspect sourcing rules and unworkable geolocation requirements. In addition to these regulatory issues, Maryland is currently involved in legal proceedings regarding several aspects of the design of the tax highlighting it may violate the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act, the Commerce Clause and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Following committee review, the proposed regulations are currently scheduled to be published in October, and the digital ad tax, which has already been delayed once, is scheduled to take effect beginning next year.

Read the full story here.


3. Recent study shows Maryland is the sixth most vaccinated state in the nation 

According to a WalletHub study published on Monday, Maryland is the sixth most vaccinated state in the nation, with Massachusetts raking first and Mississippi last. WalletHub used data compiled by U.S. government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Census Bureau and the Health Resources and Services Administration and based its findings on three criteria: children and teenagers immunization rates, adult and elderly vaccination rates and immunization uptake disparities and influencing factors. These rankings coincide with another recent study showing Maryland had the fifth-best health care system in the country and Massachusetts had the best.

Read the full story here.


4. Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission starts second round of public hearings 

The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission drew up their first complete draft congressional map during last week’s public hearing. Commission members agreed on a few general principles, such as creating a Western Maryland district that includes Carroll County and not crossing the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to these principles, the draft map contains fewer county splits than the state’s current congressional maps. Baltimore is currently split between three congressional districts, and in the draft it is entirely contained within one by combining it with portions of northern Anne Arundel County. The map also reduces the number of splits in Anne Arundel County by combining most of it with Howard County, splitting it from four congressional districts to two. The final say over proposed maps will come from the General Assembly where Democrats hold a veto-proof majority in both the House of Delegates and the Senate.

Read the full story here.


5. Baltimore allows nonprofits to apply for federal stimulus starting Oct. 1 

On Monday, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that Baltimore is opening up applications to nonprofit organizations beginning Oct. 1 for funding from the city’s $640 million American Rescue Plan allocation. Officials stated that internal applications for the funding made by city agencies are being finalized and they are nearing announcements about the first round of awards. Early projects receiving some of the funding include investments in the continued fight against COVID-19, community-based violence reduction initiatives and an economic recovery fund for small and local businesses, particularly minority- and women-owned businesses. Scott’s announcement came after City Council President Nick Mosby introduced a bill on Monday pushing for more transparency in the spending of the American Rescue Plan funding.

Read the full story here.


Request a vaccine mobile unit at your business – The Maryland Dept. of Health will deploy mobile vaccination clinics for businesses interested in providing vaccinations to their employees and the community.

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Next Wednesday: The Maryland Delegation addresses the business community 

Join us for Congressional Roundup on September 22 and stay up to date on critical policy issues and political developments that may impact the way you do business in these highly uncertain times. To view our full list of speakers, click here.

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