Tax credit bills, teacher tenure measure on governor’s legislative agenda

Tax credits for building rehab, hiring the unemployed and generating renewable electricity are among governor’s legislative proposals before the Maryland General Assembly, along with a bill to lengthen new teachers’ probationary periods.

Tax credit proposals to revitalize historic buildings, provide incentives to businesses to hire unemployed workers, and generate renewable electricity are among 45 legislative measures, including cross-filed bills, sponsored so far by the O’Malley administration in the 2010 Maryland General Assembly. The governor’s agenda also includes a bill filed this week to extend the probationary period for new teachers as part of a state effort to ensure its eligibility for federal “Race to the Top” education funding.

The Sustainable Communities Act, HB 475/ SB 285, which the GBC strongly supports, would strengthen and expand a 14-year-old program that has been a highly effective incentive for commercial rehabilitation of historic buildings that, over the years, has leveraged $347 million in tax credits into more than $1.5 billion in private revitalization investment. The legislation was heard by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. It is also assigned jointly to the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Environmental Matters Committee, where no hearings are yet scheduled.

The governor’s proposal, HB 92/SB 106, to offer tax credits of $3,000 to businesses for every unemployed worker hired is also supported by the GBC. The bill was heard February 4 by the House Ways and Means Committee. The legislation is also before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, but a hearing is not yet scheduled.

The administration’s legislative agenda also includes a bill, HB 464/SB 287, which would re-authorize an existing state income tax credit for electricity generated by a renewable resource.

Meanwhile, the governor’s education bill filed on Feb. 15, SB 899, would add a year to new teachers’ probationary period before they can be awarded tenure. The bill, which extends the probationary period to three years, also requires that “data on student growth” be a significant component of evaluations of certified teachers and principals.

The GBC’s legislative agenda supports the passage of legislation necessary for the state to qualify for federal funding under the “Race to the Top” program.

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