Legislative Advocacy

DSC_0071 - 1The GBC is a visible and credible business advocate, working with local, state and federal government leaders to address key GBC priorities and to develop more competitive tax, regulatory and economic development policies that will strengthen the business climate of the Baltimore region and Maryland. Led by President and CEO Donald C. Fry, the GBC is the voice of the Greater Baltimore business community in Annapolis. The GBC maintains an informed and vigorous presence in Annapolis during the Maryland General Assembly and is fully engaged with key elected officials on legislative issues impacting the business community.

Click here for the GBC’s 2016 legislative advocacy.

Previous Legislative Sessions

2015 Session

2015 GBC Legislative Agenda

GBC 2015 Legislative Priorities

GBC Legislative Testimony

GBC, panelists testify in support of Angel Investor Tax Credit legislation

The Greater Baltimore Committee and three panels of witnesses testified in Annapolis on February 25, 2015 before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee in support of the Angel Investor Tax Credit, the GBC’s signature piece of legislation. As proposed, Senate Bill 584 would create an Angel Investor Tax Credit, which would allow investors a tax credit against their income tax liability equal to 50 percent of their investment in a qualified business.

In today’s economy, angel tax credits are not unique. They exist in many states across the country and take on various forms but all serve the same general purpose – incentivizing angel investors to provide much-needed capital for startups.

The witnesses on the GBC’s three panels came from all different facets of angel investing, from actual angel investors to entrepreneurs who relied on angel investing to start their companies to economic development professionals at the state and local levels. All of the witnesses testified to the many positive impacts an Angel Investor Tax Credit could have for Maryland, including increased tax revenue for the state, increased capital for startup companies struggling to create businesses, a stronger entrepreneurial community in Maryland and an increased number of angel investors making investments.

While the panelists faced some difficult questions from the legislators on the committee, through their combination of expertise and experience they were able to illustrate the many ways in which this proposed legislation would have a significant positive impact for the state.

Participating on the GBC’s witness panels were:

      • Shaina Hernandez, Director of Policy and Research, Greater Baltimore Committee
      • Ed Chalfin, CEO and Founder, MIE Labs, and Co-Chairman of the Baltimore Angels
      • Mike Binko, President and CEO, kloudtrack, and Founder and CEO of Startup Maryland
      • Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, Founder of See Jane Invest, Member of the Baltimore Angels
      • Tony Stanco, Executive Director, National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer
      • Saad Alam, Co-Founder and CEO, Citelighter
      • Paul Palmieri, Venture Advisor, New Enterprise Associates, Founder of Millennial Media, and Member of the Baltimore Angels
      • Elana Fine, Managing Director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
      • Brian Levine, Vice President of Government Relations, Tech Council of Maryland
      • Rob Rosenbaum, President and Executive Director, TEDCO
      • Richard Griffin, Director of Economic Development, Frederick County
      • Kevin Kelly, Chief Government Affairs Officer, University of Maryland, Baltimore

April 14, 2015 State House Update: Session 2015 Ends with Wins and Losses All Around

After an eventful 90 days that at times seemed to showcase high levels of cooperation and bipartisanship, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned sine die last night, ending the 2015 legislative session.

Click here to view a complete wrap-up of how the business community fared during the session.

This session was the first for Republican Governor Larry Hogan, and the first opportunity for legislators and citizens alike to gain insight into what kind of policies the new governor might pursue during his tenure in the State House. Hogan, who ran on a platform of reducing spending and cutting taxes, provided little detail regarding how he planned to achieve his objectives prior to the opening of the legislative session. This also served as the first legislative session for dozens of new legislators, representing the largest legislative turnover in two decades, who assumed office in January following the 2014 elections.

For the governor, the session provided some accomplishments to hang his hat on, including significantly reducing the growth of state spending as well as the state’s projected structural deficit through the passage of a $40 billion budget that reflected 98 percent of the budget he submitted in January. This was not without difficulty, as the governor spent the weeks leading up to the end of session sparring with Democratic leaders over the budget. In a strange twist, despite only 10 dissenting Republican votes when the budget emerged from the respective legislative budget committees signaling strong bipartisan support, the ultimate budget was enacted without a single Republican vote.

The legislature also passed some parts of the governor’s legislative agenda – a repeal of the so-called “rain tax,” a tax break for military retirees, and greater flexibility for charter schools, to name a few. But Governor Hogan also saw key priorities die fast and early, such as a measure to eliminate the indexing provision of the state’s gasoline tax, and compromises were hard to come by on many of his other legislative priorities.

Some of the most significant pieces of legislation of interest to the business community that passed this session arose from the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, a group of legislators and private sector leaders jointly appointed last year by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch. The commission released its final report in February, which concluded that Maryland had not reached its potential for growing businesses and creating jobs, and laid out a series of recommendations for how to improve the state’s business climate.Four of the first five recommendations were addressed in House Bill 943, which created a new Secretary of Commerce to oversee the state’s economic development activities, a new marketing arm charged with creating a branding strategy for the state, and transferred oversight of certain programs to the Maryland Technology Development Corporation. House Bill 943 also expanded the scope of the Maryland Economic Development Commission. Other recommendations, including the creation of a customer service training program for state employees and the creation of the Apprenticeship Maryland workforce training program, were approved through separate measures.

The 2015 legislative session also produced some wins and losses for the business community. Despite broad and vocal support from angel investors, the entrepreneurial community, higher education, and the business community, the Greater Baltimore Committee’s signature initiative – the creation of an Angel Investor Tax Credit – did not pass the General Assembly this year. After two successful hearings in which panels of experts presented a multitude of evidence showing a correlation between angel tax credits and entrepreneurial growth and success, the bill did not receive a vote in either the House or Senate committees. This initiative will again be a GBC priority for the 2016 legislative session.

On a positive note, the GBC successfully lobbied against many policies that would have had a significant negative impact on the business community, including a minimum wage increase in Baltimore City and requiring combined reporting for business tax purposes. The GBC strongly opposed numerous attempts to reduce funding for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund through a combination of eliminating the indexing provision of the gasoline tax and increasing the local share of highway user revenues. Only minimal changes to the way the state’s gasoline tax is collected were passed by the legislature.

The GBC also advocated against proposed bans on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” of the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland. This is an issue that has been studied in depth and heavily debated in the General Assembly. This year, there were many bills introduced that sought to restrict or prohibit fracking activities in the state and the majority were unsuccessful. One bill did pass preventing fracking activities for two years, though its effect could ultimately be positive for the business community because it includes specific time frames for fracking regulations to be developed. Although the two year moratorium is not a positive step, the legislation does create certainty as to the timetable for future legal fracking operations.

One issue that was not settled during the legislative session was funding for the Red Line and Purple Line. Money remains in the Consolidated Transportation Plan for both projects and budget language was included that protects the current funding by restricting the governor from expending any funds dedicated to these projects without legislative approval. However, there is still no word from the governor or Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn on the fate of these two crucial economic development projects.

Overall, the 2015 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly ended up very similar to what was predicted at its onset. Fewer bills were introduced than in previous years and the budget was the main topic of conversation throughout the 90 days. There is ample opportunity for both political parties to claim victory although the call for bipartisan solutions died in the waning weeks of the legislative session. Nevertheless, Governor Hogan can claim victory for greatly reducing current and future spending, putting a significant dent in the structural deficit, and the elimination of the so-called “rain tax.” Legislative leaders can claim victory for restoring education funding, providing funding for a state employee pay increase that the administration tried to eliminate, and altering the “rain tax” legislation that monitors the local jurisdictions on their progress regarding stormwater management efforts and holds them accountable for complying with the federal regulations. New lawmakers got their feet wet in legislative waters and veteran legislators got to flex a little muscle as they fought to protect shared priorities.

As we put the 2015 session into the history books, it will be interesting to see how the decisions made – or not made – during the past 90 days continue to play out over the course of the year.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Best wishes,

Donald C. Fry

GBC President & CEO

2014 Session

GBC Legislative Testimony

Maryland General Assembly Resources

 General Assembly Information

Governor’s Office