A number of GBC priorities important to strengthening Maryland’s business climate survived the 2006 General Assembly session where, too often, “good public policy took a back seat to partisan politics,” said GBC president Donald C. Fry.
“Many of the GBC’s priorities gained favorable consideration in the legislature this year despite an often-contentious session where it seemed at times there were few friends of the business community in Annapolis,” Fry said after the midnight gavel ended the General Assembly’s last tumultuous day on April 10.
Since the session ended without a resolution to the crisis created by projected electric rate increases in July 1, Fry predicted that Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. and legislative leaders will continue to work with Constellation Energy “to limit the increase to consumers in what is to be a highly-charged election season.”
Meanwhile, Fry said that GBC successes during the 2006 legislative session included:
• Passage of legislation that would provide funding for stem cell research in the state
• Defeat of legislation that would have limited government’s use of eminent domain authority for economic development or that would have made the use of eminent domain cost-prohibitive
• Passage of significant increases to higher education funding and limits on tuition in public colleges and universities in the state
• Passage of a $25 million increase to the funding formula for the State’s community colleges
• Inclusion in the state budget of increased funding for biotechnology and research and development tax credits, although the authorizing legislation failed to pass
• Passage of $30 million for historic tax credits in the State budget and clarification of the tax credit legislation that will allow Baltimore City to obtain leftover tax credit funds from the prior year’s budget
• Passage of several initiatives designed to remove barriers to re-entry into the community for ex-offenders
• Passage of a comprehensive study of shortages in the health care workforce.
“Although pleased with our successes, we note that the past 90 days have highlighted the divisions between liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, and business and government that are prevalent in our political landscape,” Fry said. “It highlights the need for business leaders to more effectively educate the legislature and the public on the benefits that a strong business climate bring not only to Wall Street, but also to Main Street.”
GBC’s weekly “State House Update” reports for the 2006 session.