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Legislative Update

By: Mark Kleinschmidt

The General Assembly is in full swing and so far, over 2,500 bills have been introduced. That should be most of the legislation for this session since there is an administrative rule in the General Assembly requiring most bills to be introduced by the first week of February. Since that date has passed, we pretty much know what to focus on until the end of the session on April 8th

With so many bills under consideration, it can be a challenge to monitor everything. So in December, we reached out to the membership to get some feedback about issues and legislation of concern.  From all the responses, we were able to put them into five Critical Issue areas. Working with our lobbyist, we have pinpointed specific legislation within each category which will be our primary focus. However, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of the emergence of other legislative initiatives.

To give you a quick overview, check out the short summary below.  For more comprehensive information and links to individual bills, Click Here

Business Climate
For this issue area, we were looking for proposals that would have far reaching impact on the economy and business climate in Anne Arundel County.  The Online Data Privacy Act  would make changes in the way businesses handle data.  There are several i-Gaming proposals can hurt existing “bricks and mortar” casinos along with the entire hospitality industry.  In addition, there are proposals to adjust certain tax brackets and increase the alcohol and tobacco tax rates.  A couple of bills would allow the creation of tourism zones and expand the powers of economic development authorities.

Employment and Work Place Issues
These are important issues, since they impact almost all employers.  The Tipped Worker Wage and Predictive Scheduling are back.   Modifications are being proposed for Unemployment Insurance and the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. Several bills seek to add some extra steps to the hiring process and provide certain tax credits for Parental Leave.  There is also some regulations about cannabis in the workplace.

There is an affordable housing crisis in Maryland, in fact studies have indicated that Anne Arundel County has a current shortage of 12,000 housing units. Governor Moore has put forth a package of housing legislation to expand the supply of housing. It includes relaxing local government zoning and permitting requirements to allow affordable housing.  There is also legislation that would provide tax credits for turning a commercial property into residential use.

Money remains in the budget for the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and the Anne Arundel County Public School System is seeking authorization to implement an innovative pilot program for the school schedule and set up a Student Loan Assistance program to help attract teachers to the County.

Child Care
The availability of affordable Child Care providers is a major concern for parents and employers.  There is legislation to formalize the Growing Family Child Care program. We will be on the look out for other Child Care related legislation as well.

As the session moves forward, the Chamber may need your assistance to provide additional information about a bill or to testify at a Committee meeting.  Be on the look out for Legislative Updates to stay current on what is happening.

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