February 19, 2021,

The Chamber is monitoring legislation being considered by the General Assembly that might impact your business.  It is our goal to provide periodic updates about what is happening on important bills that are being debated and when appropriate we reach out to share our concerns or support with members of the General Assembly.  Just this week, the RELIEF Act of 2021 was signed by Governor Hogan and it will provide stimulus and tax relief to Maryland families and small businesses. Of particular interest is the Sales and Use Tax credit which could provide up to $9,000 for a business.  In total the RELIEF Act will put almost $1 billion into the state’s economy.  Click HERE to see a summary of the bill and how it may help your business.

Yesterday the Chamber hosted our annual Economic Outlook event.  We were pleased to have Andy Bauer an economist from the  Federal Reserve Bank, and three local CEOs:  Alan Hyatt of Severn Bank, Tori Bayless from Luminis Health System and Dick Franyo from the Boatyard Bar and Grill.  Each speaker provided a great deal of insight about current and future economic conditions. As part of the Economic Outlook, we asked the attendees to take a short four questions survey.  The Chamber would like to get your input as well, so if you could click  HERE and take the survey it would be much appreciated.

It is hard to believe but the Maryland General Assembly is approaching the halfway point of the legislative session.  The Chamber’s Legislative Committee has been tracking several bills that can impact your business. Below you will find a short overview about four bills that may be of interest to you.  We will continue to keep you updated and advocate on your behalf.

Digital Advertising Gross Revenue Tax
The General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto of HB 732 which would place a tax on ads placed on Facebook, Google and other digital platforms.  The Chamber opposed this bill since it will be difficult to administer and will increase the cost of advertising particularly for small business.  The fight is not over, as the US Chamber of Commerce, the Internet Association, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry filed a suit against the State of Maryland citing the it violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act and is an infringement of the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution.  Stay tuned for more details.

HB 318: Surcharge on Transfer Tax
County Executive Steuart Pittman’s request for authorization from the General Assembly to impose a transfer tax surcharge on real estate valued at more than $1 million and dedicate the proceeds for affordable housing. This surcharge would increase the cost of many real estate projects including affordable housing projects.  The Chamber is concerned that this bill will be harmful to the economic growth of the economy and disproportionately hurts small business and in-fill real estate projects.

HB 508: COVID-19 Civil Immunity
This legislation provides businesses, educational institutions and healthcare facilities that act in compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive and agency orders related to COVID-19 shall be held immune from civil liability for a COVID-19 claim unless gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing can be proven. There are many unknown elements surrounding COVID-19 and businesses and other entities that follow all the guidelines should not be subject to potential litigation that could significantly impact their business.

HB 581: Maryland Essential Worker’s Protection Act
While the title of the bill sounds like it is something to support, it contains a number of items that have a significant negative impact on the operation of a business, non-profit organization or government entity with employees.  If passed, the legislation would create a number of new employer mandates and costs including: hazard pay, financial assistance for healthcare costs; and, universal health and bereavement leave, among many other problematic and challenging provisions. The Chamber is deeply concerned about the impact of this bill.