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Friday, March 24, 2017
Senator Eckardt, Weekly Legislative Update
Senator Adelaide Eckardt, District 37 Legislative Weekly Update March 22, 2017
Thank you Jay Fleming for decorating our office this session with your Living on the Water photos! Please visit www.jayflemingphotography.com to check out his work!
SENATE BILL 307 – MARYLAND OPEN TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DECISION ACT – APPLICATION AND EVALUATION
SB 307 came in as the Governor’s bill that repeals Chapter 36 of 2016, which (1) established State transportation goals and measures that must be used to evaluate whether and to what extent a “major transportation project” meets the State’s transportation goals; (2) requires the Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP) to be updated to reflect the goals and measures; and (3) requires the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to generally prioritize projects with higher scores in the Consolidated Transportation Program(CTP) over projects with lower scores, subject to MDOT’s authority to include lower scored projects if it provides a rational basis for such action in writing.
The bill was worked on in the Senate Budget and Tax Committee and eventually, in conjunction with the Governors team, consensus was reached. The bill was ultimately voted favorably by all committee members, as well as the Senate. The bill now establishes a two year time frame for the Department of Transportation to continue their priority list for statewide transportation projects while developing a pilot scoring mechanism. A workgroup is established to review and analyze the process of funding projects and will report to the legislature at the end of the two year period.
SENATE BILL 873 – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – JOB CREATION TAX CREDIT – ALTERATION
SB 873 alters the Job Creation Tax Credit program by (1) allowing a business to claim the full value of the credit in one tax year; (2) limiting to $4.0 million the annual amount of credits the Department of Commerce may award; (3) lowering the minimum number of qualifying jobs that must be created in order to claim the credit in certain counties; (4) requiring that each job that qualifies for the credit is paid at least 120% of the State minimum wage; and (5) altering certain tax credit verification and reporting requirements.
Small businesses may be meaningfully impacted by the proposed changes. Small businesses may benefit from (1) a reduction in the accounting costs associated with claiming the credit; (2) claiming the credit in one tax year; and (3) increased participation due to lower job creation thresholds in certain counties and additional areas that qualify as a Priority Funding Area (PFA). Small businesses that do not qualify due to the higher State minimum wage requirement may be unable to claim the credit.
The bill also provides opportunities for Dorchester, Somerset, Worchester, and Wicomico Counties to provide incentives to attract and recruit business to the area while retaining existing business.
Thanks to the Washington College Students for visiting earlier this session! Keep up the good work!
HOUSE BILL 1283 - ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES – CLASS 5 BREWERY LICENSE
HB 1283 alters provisions of law to Class 5 brewery license and Class D beer license. This bill outlines how many ounces of samples of beer brewed at the brewery can be served, at no charge, to customers. HB 1283 also defines how many barrels of beer can be sold a year for on-premises consumption. In a single year, a maximum volume of 3,000 barrels can be sold for on-premises consumption.
Lastly, this bill specifies the hours during which a brewery may exercise the privileges of the Class 5 brewery and Class D beer licenses. Under this law, breweries would be restricted to specific operating hours in their taprooms - Sunday through Thursday: 10:00am - 9:00pm; and Friday and Saturday: 10:00am - 10:00pm.
HB 1283 will negatively impact local breweries and deter future breweries from opening in Maryland. Hopefully the bill will be amended to change the hours according to existing law.
SENATE BILL 641 – INCOME TAX CREDIT – ENDOW MARYLAND – CREDIT AMOUNTS
SB 641 would expand the existing Endow Maryland tax credit from $250,000 to $500,000 the aggregate amount of credits that the Department of Housing and Community Development can approve in each tax year. Businesses or individuals who make a donation to a permanent endowment fund at specified community foundations may be eligible for a credit against the Maryland State income tax. SB 641 passed the Senate earlier this week.
SENATE BILL 705 – AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES AND EXPENSES – VIOLATION OF MARYLAND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
SB 705 would authorize a court to award attorney’s fees and expenses to a prevailing plaintiff for any actions seeking to remedy a violation of certain Maryland constitutional rights. Fifteen committee amendments were added to this bill that outlines areas where plaintiff attorneys can be awarded legal fees.This bill would increase liability costs for local governments and municipalities.
SENATE BILL 622 – TAX-FREE PERIOD FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING – SALE OF BOOKPACKS AND BOOKBAGS
SB 622 passed the Senate this week. This bill was amended to allow for backpacks and bookbags that cost $30 or less to be exempt from the sales and use tax during Maryland Tax-Free Week.
SENATE BILL 957 – COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES - LAND BANK AUTHORITIES
SB 957 received a favorable with amendments report from both the Senate Budget and Tax and Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committees earlier this week. This bill is expected to pass the Senate soon.
SENATE BILL 230 - LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT - MARYLAND HEALTHY WORKING FAMILIES ACT (PAID SICK LEAVE)
The Maryland Senate passed the Paid Sick Leave legislation last week with amendments in a 29-18 vote. Due to the negative impacts this legislation will have on small businesses throughout Maryland, I voted against SB 230.
Senator Adelaide Eckardt
District 37 – Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, Wicomico Counties