The 2022 Maryland General Assembly legislative session marked a return to some hallmarks of the past after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire membership of the House of Delegates sat together, and Plexiglas barriers were removed. The Senate moved to in-person committee hearings in February.
The Greater Baltimore Committee worked hard to represent the interests of its members throughout the session. A number of important tax credit and transportation bills passed with GBC support, and several bills that would have negatively impacted economic growth were opposed by the GBC and others and went down in defeat.
Legislation That Was Approved
Business Related Legislation – from Tax Credits and Child Care to new Regulations
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit – Piggybacking on the federal tax credit, provides incentives for employers to hire and retain workers from underserved communities that have faced barriers to employment.
- Child Care Industry Support – Legislation enacted to provide hiring and retention bonuses for child care workers, establish a revolving loan fund for child care capital improvements.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave – General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto to enact a program to provide up to 24 weeks of paid leave for Maryland workers dealing with family or medical issues. Contribution rates and benefits will be determined prior to the program start date of 2023.
- Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 – Governor Hogan allowed this legislation to become law without his signature. The bill requires Maryland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2031, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045. Large buildings must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040.
- MARC Rail Expansion – Legislation passed requiring MDOT to conduct an implementation study to address service to Virginia, Delaware, and an extension of the Brunswick Line to better serve Western Maryland. The bill also creates a Transportation Trust Fund Workgroup, charged with examining the funding sources and structure of the Fund, short and long term transportation needs, how to position the State to benefit from the federal infrastructure legislation passed in 2021, and make recommendations for changes to policies and procedures to ensure the health of Maryland’s transportation system.
- Baltimore’s East-West Transit Corridor –Requires the Department of Transportation to undertake all steps necessary to secure a Record of Decision for the Red Line and MARC Rail extension to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. MDOT would also be required to prepare a plan for the funding and financing of the construction and operation of these projects. The bill requires a $5 million appropriation from fiscal years 2024 to 2027 for the environmental impact study.
- General Assembly passed legislation to establish the Greater Baltimore Transit Governance and Funding Commission, which will study and make recommendations about the funding, governance, and performance of mass transit in the greater Baltimore region.
- Ghost Gun Ban – Legislation passed to alter the definition of “firearm” to include an unfinished frame or receiver that has reached a stage in manufacturing where it can readily be completed, assembled, or converted into a functional firearm. This would subject these untraceable guns, known as “ghost guns”, to the same federal laws and regulations that are applicable to all other firearms, including the requirement that it be properly licensed and registered.
- Opioid Overdose Prevention – In addition to making opioid overdose reversal drugs more readily available, the bill disallows a cause of action to be brought against businesses and business owners for actions they took to make opioid overdose reversal drugs available for patrons or employees in good faith.
- Warrant Apprehension– Requires an annual appropriation of $2 million in fiscal years 2024 through 2026 for local law enforcement agencies to be used as grants for warrant apprehension efforts.
Stadium Authority Bills
- House Bill 896 – Maryland Stadium Authority – Increase of Bond Authorization – Camden Yards grants the Authority bond capacity of up to $1.2 billion, an increase from the current cap of $235 million. The bill would permit borrowing up to $600 million each for Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.
- House Bill 897 – Economic Development – Sports Entertainment Facilities and Events, Prince George’s County Blue Line Corridor Facilities, and Racing Facilities authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) to issue up to $200 million in bonds for construction of a Sports Entertainment Facility. The bill also provides up to $400 million to the Prince George’s County Blue Line Corridor Facilities Fund for improvements, but not a new stadium, on land adjacent to FedEx Field. Finally, the bill creates the Major Sports and Entertainment Event Program and Fund which will be used to attract major events to Maryland, attract attendees to fill the seats, provide media coverage, and create a positive economic impact for Maryland.
Legislation That Failed
Facing opposition from the GBC and other business organizations, several bills that would have negatively impacted the economic health of Maryland did not pass this session. Failed proposals included efforts to adopt a corporate income tax throwback rule and combined reporting, an additional tax on carried interest, and an attempt to pass a “fair scheduling act”.