March 15, 2021,

The Maryland General Assembly has reached the halfway point of the current legislative session.  So far, over 2,400 bills have been introduced.  While many of these will not see any legislative action, quite a few will, and they can have an impact on your business.  Last week the Chamber’s Board of Directors reviewed the recommendations of the Legislative Committee and voted to take the following positions on the following six legislation issues that are currently before the General Assembly.

Digital Advertising Gross Revenue Tax
The General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto of this tax and the digital advertising tax is being challenged in court.  The Chamber supports the concept of not taxing digital advertising and the pending lawsuit since it will increase the cost of advertising particularly for small businesses. The tax makes Maryland the first state to tax digital advertising and establish a precedent for additional taxation and sends the wrong message to businesses of all sizes.

HB 933/SB 566: Surcharge on Transfer Tax
The Chamber is opposed to this bill because it will be harmful to the economic growth of the economy and disproportionately hurts small business.  The proposed surcharge would increase the cost of many real estate projects including affordable housing projects. This is enabling legislation and only applies to Anne Arundel County.  The County Council would have to pass legislation to implement this tax.

HB 508/SB 210: COVID-19 Civil Immunity
The Chamber supports this legislation because there are many unknown elements surrounding COVID-19 and businesses, non-profit organizations and other entities that follow all the guidelines should not be subject to potential litigation that could significantly impact their business.

HB 581/SB 486: Employment Standards During an Emergency
The Chamber recognizes the importance of essential workers but is deeply concerned about several provisions and undefined costs contained in the current legislation and the economic impact it could have employers. As currently drafted, the Chamber opposes this legislation.

HB 463/SB 172: Maryland Health Equity Resource Act
While the intent of the legislation is important the Chamber opposes the proposed funding mechanism.  The COVID recession is having a dramatic negative impact on the hospitality and restaurant industries. Increasing the costs and administrative burdens for these two struggling industries will make their recovery even harder.

HB 319/SB 133: Progressive County Income Tax
The Chamber opposes any enabling legislation that creates new taxing authority for local governments. In addition, increasing local income tax rates would make Anne Arundel a much less attractive place for businesses and high-income individuals who would seek to locate and reside in lower tax counties or states.  Trying to establish of a “progressive tax structure” that is equitable would be difficult and create great political turmoil for Maryland counties which would have to ultimately vote on the new tax structure.