As a business lawyer, Colleen Helmlinger, former Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee and a continuing member, attends the bi-monthly Legislative Committee Meetings which are held at 8:00 a.m. in the Chamber’s Board Room during each Legislative Session to keep a pulse on all things at work in Annapolis and developing during the Session which may impact local businesses of Harford County.
The Legislative Committee of the Harford County Chamber of Commerce resumed with its first meeting on September 18, 2017. Members of the Harford County Delegation were in attendance as guests for a Roundtable Discussion to discuss the 2018 General Session and their legislative priorities, as follows:
Senator Bob Cassilly is a pro-business advocate who will get the message to Governor Hogan for pro-business legislation, estates and trust and corporation legislation. Mandatory Paid Sick Leave will be back and it will be the biggest fight. Governor vetoed it and the Maryland Chamber is in support of Governor Hogan. Harford Chamber is also in support of the veto. Expungement of certain theft convictions based on a threshold vs. drug convictions, for hiring purposes, so employers are not liable. Need funds for transportation system –working with Economic Development (Silver Line). Senators will be supporting the Governor’s agenda. If you have thoughts in terms of pro-business policies, now is the time to let the Governor know.
Senator Wayne Norman will focus on debt collections and landlord tenant matters. He advised that the biggest issue will be paid sick leave. Expect a horrendous fight, especially because it is an election year. The entire delegation is pro-business; the Chamber can be proud of the people who represent the County in Annapolis.
Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti stressed that locally, healthcare needs are going to be an issue.
Delegate Andrew Cassilly is looking at current regulations/restrictions on small businesses that affect their ability to be successful. Previously introduced paint recycling legislation, but not likely it will gain traction this year. Emphasis on streamlining regulations.
Delegate Teresa Reilly is on the ways and means committee; revenue tax credits, business enterprise zones; taxing marijuana; concerned College Park allowed non-citizens to vote and to expand voting; she does not support such expansion. She advised that the first 6 days of the Session they deal with veto overrides, then let it ride until the last day of the Session.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga reported that paid sick leave will be the major issue and businesses need to contact their representatives to defeat an override of Governor’s veto. HGE, medical marijuana will be back; Obama Care repeal and Healthcare. Move to increase utility bills, pushing renewals, and reuseables. Paint tax for recycling. Transportation concerns need to be addressed.
Delegate Rick Impallaria takes and makes calls from the Floor; He encouraged people to call him and let him know what is important to them and what they want and don’t want to pass. Prevention of liquor licenses to chain stores like Wegmans and Walmart. Heroin losses. Sanctuary bill will be revisited. Hazard pay for JPR-Baltimore City crime prevention. Comparative negligence. Legalization of marijuana bill. Bill for licenses (thin blue line tag productions) to fund law enforcement of firefighters.
Delegate Susan McComas reported that 2020 is a redistricting year. She will get to Governor Hogan what is important to constituents and she encouraged people to contact her.
Councilman Pat Vincenti reported on Comprehensive Zoning status of hearings and approvals; parking issue at 112 S. Hickory, affects nearby businesses and the National search is already underway for a new health director.
Congressman Andy Harris’ office was represented by Mary Okeefe. Andy is on the Appropriations Committee. Tax Reform and repeal of Obama Care. Immigration-extend DACA in compliance, but not expand.
Town Administrator Jesse Bane reported on that the exodus of big box retail will be a major issue in Harford County.
On October 16, 2017, the Legislative Committee met and Guest Speaker, Larry Richardson, the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce provided a detailed account of 2017 General Assembly Session bills reviewed by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, as well as a forecast of business-related legislation we may see again during the 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly. It appears everything that died or was killed last year is returning, and businesses must be ready to respond in order to defeat those bills most harmful to them.
Committee members were able to ask questions with a focus on Harford County businesses and the impact of future legislation, including Mandatory Paid Leave (which kills jobs). Larry asked for data and statistics to show why this bill does not work for employers of businesses, Minimum Wage, Fair Scheduling, Expungements affecting negligent hire and failure to supervise liability of employers; job creation, work force development, pathways in technology sponsored by Governor; non-economic damages increase; tax bills for credits/modifications for military retirees; increase tax credit for businesses with research and development expenses. The Maryland Chamber has put together a kit which you can obtain from the Chamber including form letters and talking points. Larry encouraged all to take the time to contribute information about your business to the Chamber, because within committees, numbers and stats work better than emotional appeals to sway decisions.
The Harford County Chamber of Commerce works continually to be the preferred advocate and recognized voice of business in Harford County, Maryland. Please visit the Chamber’s website at www.harfordcountychamber.com and click on the Legislative Update Blog to review a synopsis of or the Minutes from each of these meetings which will be posted throughout the 2018 Legislative Session.
Because it is an election year, we can expect many bills introduced for campaigning purposes. January 17, 2018 is Legislative Reception & Business Day in Annapolis. All are encouraged to attend.
Feel free to contact Colleen Helmlinger at 410-893-7500 or [email protected] with any questions or input you may have on any of these or other legislative matters during the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session.