5 Questions with … Keiffer Mitchell

Keiffer J. Mitchell

We are pleased that Governor Hogan’s Chief Legislative Officer, Keiffer J. Mitchell, has agreed to be our first guest. Mitchell has served as Chief Legislative Officer since November, 2019, and also has served Governor Hogan as Acting Chief of Staff, Senior Advisor to the Governor, and Special Advisor in the Governor’s Legislative Office.

Prior to his work with the administration, Mitchell served as a member of the House of Delegates representing Baltimore City’s District 44 from 2011 to 2015, and represented District 11 in the Baltimore City Council from 1995 to 2007.

GBC: What was the Administration’s most consequential accomplishment in the 2021 Legislative Session?

KM: At the start of the 2021 legislative session, Governor Hogan introduced the Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, and Families (RELIEF) Act, which provided more than $1 billion in targeted tax relief and economic stimulus for families and small businesses. The RELIEF Act of 2021 passed within 30 days of the start of the legislative session, with nearly unanimous support from the legislature.

What was the biggest disappointment in the 2021 Legislative session?

With the rising violence occurring, particularly in Baltimore City, the legislature had an opportunity to address repeat violent offenders who use a gun in the commission of a crime. Legislation introduced in the Senate would include tough sentencing for people who commit crimes with guns.

What are the Administration’s priorities/plans for 2022 session, and are there any legacy items Governor Hogan plans to pursue during his final session in office?

The 2022 legislative session is in 8 months. While specific plans for the governor’s legislative agenda are premature at this time, our administration will continue to focus on reducing fees and taxes on hardworking Marylanders. The governor will also continue to prioritize improving the state’s infrastructure with the widening of the Capital Beltway and lowering the overall cost of doing business in the state.

In your opinion, what is the one policy direction that the General Assembly should enact that would make the State more competitive?

Lowering the overall cost of doing business in the State. This could be done in a variety of ways, but most immediately through tax cuts (specifically lowering the Corporate Tax Rate), and continuing to work toward removing barriers and added costs, thereby making it easier to do business in the State.

What is the most significant policy issue not being addressed by the State or not getting the attention it deserves?

The high cost of retirement in Maryland. Governor Hogan has attempted to take steps to improve this, most recently through the introduction of SB 573/HB 735 -Income Tax Subtraction Modification – Correctional Officers, Law Enforcement Officers, and Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services Personnel (Hometown Heroes Act) which would expand the State income tax subtraction modification for retired law enforcement; correctional officers; and fire, rescue, or emergency services personnel by increasing the maximum value of the subtraction modification and extending eligibility to retirees who are between ages 50 and 54. Similarly, Governor Hogan introduced SB 574/HB 734 – Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Military Retirement Income to expand the existing military retirement income tax subtraction modification by exempting 100% of military retirement income from State taxation.

“5 Questions with …” is a monthly feature in which we ask a key figure in the Maryland legislative arena five questions about policy goals from past and future sessions.