On behalf of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, I want to thank everyone who was able to attend Meet the State! This year, we had a turnout of 250 attendees—the largest attendance of any previous Meet the State event.
It was energizing to see so many of our members and other business leaders engaged on the issues and eager to hear our state leaders share their legislative priorities. We hope we were able to provide all attendees with a newfound understanding of what the 2020 legislative session has in store for the business community, and for your business specifically.
Below, we’ve featured some highlights from the day’s speeches and panel discussions, a photo gallery, and media coverage of the event. Also, please take a moment to let us know what you thought of Meet the State by taking a brief survey.
Delegate Anne Kaiser said it best during one of our Fireside Chats: She and her fellow legislators “cannot be experts on everything.” They need to hear from the business community in the off-season, and not just during session, so that they can fully understand our issues and concerns and keep us top-of-mind.
Membership in the Maryland Chamber ensures that you will be heard in Annapolis during session—and all year round. If you’re a member interested in becoming more involved in the Chamber’s advocacy efforts and would like to join one of our policy committees, please contact our vice president of government affairs, Ashley Duckman, at 410-269-0642, ext. 1112.
If you’re not yet a member of the Chamber and would like to be, please contact our vice president of membership and development, Whitney Harmel, at 410-269-0642, ext. 1117.
Thank you, again, for attending Meet the State. Let’s keep working together for a stronger, more competitive Maryland!
President & CEO
Maryland Chamber of Commerce
The possibility of revising the tax code was the hot topic during the Leadership Panel with Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. The consensus seems to be that while some tax credits could be eliminated or changed this session, a broader tax code overhaul won’t happen this year.
The Chamber will continue to (1) fight against the elimination of tax credits and (2) push to lower the state’s corporate income tax rate. We will also monitor a controversial proposal to implement a tax on digital advertising.
The Senate Small Business Workgroup, a bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Katie Fry Hester, shared its legislative proposals with our audience. The workgroup plans to introduce legislation that would:
Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz discussed the Hogan administration’s plans to rebuild the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore to enable CSX Transportation to run double-stacked trains through the tunnel. The project, a boon to the Port of Baltimore, will bring in about $1 billion in personal and business revenues each year and create more than 7,200 permanent jobs, said Schulz.
For the last three years, the Maryland Chamber has pushed at the federal and state level to make double-stacking options a reality. We are excited that there appears to be a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson spoke of legislation that would increase the educational requirements for inmates. Such legislation would save taxpayer money by reducing recidivism and make inmates more attractive to employers upon their release, she said.
During a Fireside Chat later in the afternoon, members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and House Judiciary Committee spoke of their support for second-chance hiring programs, a topic of interest for the Chamber as well. As Senator Will Smith Jr. pointed out, “If an ex-offender has a job, they’re 20% less likely to recidivate.”
Earlier in the day, some lawmakers and attendees expressed their concerns over how the state will pay for the recommendations made by the Kirwan Commission, which has called for a $3.8 billion increase in public education spending to be phased in over a decade.
Keynote speaker Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is running for governor in 2022, issued a call for caution and accountability. “We need to be going to the voters and saying, ‘Here are the results we get with your money.’ That’s not a Republican idea, that’s not a Democratic idea. That’s just common sense.”
“Bipartisan support for Maryland businesses on full display at Chamber event,” Maryland Reporter: https://marylandreporter.com/2020/01/22/bipartisan-support-for-maryland-businesses-on-full-display-at-chamber-event/
“Maryland lawmakers eye tax reform to keep up with changing economy,” Baltimore Business Journal: https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/01/22/maryland-lawmakers-eye-tax-reform-to-keep-up-with.amp.html
MDCC President and CEO Christine Ross talks to Hagerstown’s WMDV-TV: https://www.localdvm.com/news/maryland/maryland-small-business-seeks-growth-with-help-from-the-state-capitol/
“Franchot Starts Campaign for Governor with Centrist Message to Business Leaders,” Maryland Matters: https://www.marylandmatters.org/2020/01/22/franchot-starts-campaign-for-governor-with-centrist-message-to-business-leaders/
Be sure to tune in to MPT’s State Circle on January 24 at 7 p.m. to see coverage of Meet the State, as well as an interview with Chamber member Pat McElroy, president of Tim’s Towing. You can watch online here.