Recap: Legislative Affairs Member Exchange Meeting - Updates from Annapolis - 2015 Legislative Session

Posted Date: 
March 9, 2015

Monday, March 9, 8:00am-9:00am Recap

Guest Speakers: John Stierhoff and Marta Harting, Venable LLP                            

Vice-Chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee, Tom McElroy welcomed MCCC members and introduced the guest speakers John Stierfhoff and Marta Harting of Venable LLP, MCCC’s contract lobbyists in Annapolis, to provide an update on the 2015 General Assembly Legislative Session.   

Mr. Stierhoff began the presentation by highlighting issues that MCCC has been tracking – the budget, legislation stemming from the Augustine Commission, taxes, transportation and other business climate concerns.  In the 2015 session, approximately 2,000 bills were introduced. The main issue has been the budget and the Governor’s attempt to address an $800 million shortfall in one year.  His proposal cut an increase in education funding and rolled back a raise for State workers.  The House and Senate are working to find ways to restore the education funding.  These discussions are likely to generate news coverage.

The Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission (the Augustine Commission) offered a number of recommendations which resulted in five pieces of legislation.  The most radical is a restructuring of the Department of Business and Economic Development to make it more effective.  Another important effort is on to analyze the impact on small business of proposed legislation. This will be a helpful measure to enhance sensitivity to impact legislation can have on the business climate.

There have been a number of bills this year addressing taxes – some trying to undo the estate tax recoupling passed last year, others pushing combined reporting. These are not likely to pass this year.  There continues to be an effort to repeal the Stormwater Management (or rain tax). It was killed in the Environment and Transportation House committee but Senator Miller has introduced similar legislation that is working its way through the Senate.

The Governor, in his attempt to fulfill campaign promises, introduced legislation to repeal an automatic increase in the Motor Fuel Tax passed in 2013.  MCCC worked hard to pass that tax because those revenues are directed to transportation infrastructure maintenance and improvement. MCCC testified in opposition to the repeal. 

Mr. Stierhoff and Ms. Harting noted that it is always good when legislators hear from individual businesses impacted by pieces of legislation. Clark Kendall of Kendall Capital and Lynn Perry Parker of LPP Law both testified on different pieces of legislation in 2015.  While many pieces of legislation did not come out of committee this year, in particular a number of items dealing with employment law, it is likely these issues will return in the coming years.

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