(January 15, 2019–ANNAPOLIS, Md.) As the 2019 legislative session enters its first full week, 60 new legislators are slowly orienting themselves within the halls of Annapolis, a dozen new committee leaders are testing out their gavels, and new bills are dropping at a pace more akin to a leaky faucet than the record-shattering fire hose of last year. At just over 150 House and Senate bills, a good chunk are “departmentals,” or legislation submitted by state agencies to make technical legal corrections in their areas of administration.
While rumors continue to swirl about a $15 minimum wage, predictive scheduling, the expansion of the recent paid sick and safe leave mandate, and new taxes to pay for education reform, no bills physically exist yet in Annapolis. Instead you may be surprised that a few bills currently being assigned hearings are designed to have a positive impact on Maryland’s business community.
IMPROVING MARYLAND’S BUSINESS CLIMATE
Senate Bill 37, sponsored by self-described policy wonk Senator Andy Serafini is set to be heard by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Wednesday, January 30th. Walking in the footsteps of the Augustine Commission’s unadopted recommendations, the bill seeks to return Maryland’s corporate tax rate over the next three years from its current 8.25 percent to its previously far more competitive seven percent. Much has happened in Maryland’s financial world since the rate was increased in 2007. Not only has the Supreme Court allowed Maryland to collect an additional $100 million a year in online sales, but, in aggregate, the Comptroller estimates that Maryland’s largest employers will pay an additional half-billion dollars in taxes over the next four years due to federal tax code changes. Meanwhile, our top economic competitor, Virginia, has recently put forward an agenda this year to decrease their rate from six to five percent. Improving competition in this manner is a key priority for the Maryland Chamber and a key recommendation of our Business Tax Task Force.
Also dropped, though currently under review by the Maryland Chamber’s membership-driven policy committees, is a new business tax incentive from Governor Hogan and the first of many anticipated bills to provide common sense corrections to HB 1’s paid sick and safe leave mandate. We will certainly have more details for you on these and similar bills a little later on into session.
WE NEED YOU IN ANNAPOLIS
While it’s been nice enjoying the absence of anti-business bills this past week, there are still 84 days left in the 90-day session. Unfortunately, these bills are coming whether we are ready or not.
However, next Wednesday January 23rd, we have a distinct opportunity to gain new allies in the fight to keep businesses alive in this state and to make business’s voice heard in Annapolis. The Maryland Chamber’s Meet the State event is a full day, immersive experience with the General Assembly and our government affairs team. You’ll not only learn about more upcoming issues that impact your business, you’ll engage in informed discussions with your state legislators about how those issues affect you directly.
We hope you can join us.