From the Halls: Maryland welcomes a new speaker and focuses on small business

The 2019 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly has come to an end, but the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s work has not. Here is some information on what has happened since the end of the Session one month ago:

New Speaker of the House

As we reported earlier this month, on May 1st Delegate Adrienne A. Jones (D-10, Baltimore County) was selected by her peers in the Maryland House of Delegates during a Special Session of the General Assembly. That Special Session was held to fill the vacancy that occurred with the sudden passing of then-Speaker Michael Busch just prior to the conclusion of the 2019 General Assembly Session.

So, who is Adrienne Jones, and how will her selection impact the business community?

Speaker Jones is a former human resources professional and 38-year veteran of Baltimore County government. She has been a member of the Maryland General Assembly since her appointment in October 1997. From 2003 up until her selection as Speaker, she served on the House Appropriations Committee and was Chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee. Speaker Jones also served in the House since 2003 as Speaker Pro Tem, where in that role she was responsible for presiding over the operations of the House Chamber in the absence of the Speaker.

Described by her colleagues as “widely respected,” “no-nonsense,”, and a “consensus-builder,” it is anticipated Speaker Jones will follow the general philosophies of the late Speaker Busch. Speaker Busch was known for his open-door policy of listening to the concerns of the business community and working to balance those concerns with existing social norms.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce extends its congratulations to Speaker Jones and looks forward to working closely with her toward advancing Maryland as the best place to do business in America.

Small Business Caucus

In the wake of the 2019 Legislative Session a group of Maryland State Senators have taken the first steps towards enhancing the voice of the business community. After hearing numerous concerns during this past session of the increasing number of legislative proposals that posed a negative impact on business, a bipartisan group of Senators met with the Maryland Chamber and other business organizations. This “Small Business Jobs Working Group” seeks to better understand the challenges facing small business, and to explore opportunities for legislation that can address them. During the inaugural meeting May 1st, the group engaged in a very productive discussion regarding the numerous issues small businesses face, including:

Included in the discussion were issues that may be able to be easily addressed, such as reducing regulatory burdens to permit easier compliance by business, and generally reducing the costs of doing business. To inform the discussion, the Maryland Chamber provided a listing of 13 bills from this past Session (not counting any cross-filed bills) as examples of what the business community believed to be unnecessary and burdensome penalties, costs, restrictions, legal exposure, and administrative requirements.

What was tremendously encouraging was the number of Senators from both sides of the aisle who were present or represented by someone from their staff:

This inaugural meeting concluded with a belief that progress can be made toward ensuring the long-term viability of small business in Maryland. The Maryland Chamber is proud to be a part of this group and will be working closely with these Senators toward turning that belief into reality.

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