From State Sen. J.B. Jennings:
Progress on Tax Reform
The federal 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was passed in December simplified and reduced federal taxes for the vast majority (71%) of Marylanders. In fact, under this new plan, Marylanders will save $2.8 billion dollars in federal taxes each year, and more than 80% of middle-class taxpayers will see reduced taxes with an average savings of $1,200. However, without legislative action, Marylanders will pay $500 million more in state and local taxes due to Maryland’s complex and burdensome tax structure. The GOP legislative package will simplify state taxes and return this money where it has always belonged: in Marylanders’ pockets. Our proposal has four bills aimed at bringing you much deserved tax relief:
SB 191 (aka the “Decoupling Bill”) – Income Tax – Itemized Deductions
This bill states that you could choose to itemize your state deductions if you take the standard deduction at the federal level. Currently, if you take the federal standard deduction you must use the state standard deduction too; however, because the state standard deduction is so small, many tax payers lose out taking the state standard deduction.
SB194 – Calculation of Taxable Income – Itemized Deductions – Property Taxes
The current state tax law for itemized deductions currently states that you can deduct what you deducted at the federal level, with a few exceptions. This means state property taxes now adhere to the $10,000 cap that the federal tax bill put in place on local and state taxes. This bill would allow a filer to deduct their entire property tax payments instead of adhering to the new $10,000 cap.
SB 318 – Income Tax – Standard Deduction – Alteration
This bill would increase the state standard deduction for single and joint filers. Our current state standard deduction has not been increased since 1992, and is so small that it’s insignificant.
SB 567 – Income Tax Rates – Reduction
This legislation would decrease state income tax rates.
In other tax reform news, I’m pleased to announce that this week the Senate unanimously passed the Income Tax Credit Bill (SB 182), which will prevent taxpayers’ bills from rising next year by ensuring that Marylanders can continue to take personal exemptions on their tax returns.
Sick Leave Bill Delayed
During the first week of session, the Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of the Paid Sick Leave Bill. One of the biggest concerns I have with this override is that the new law would take effect 30 days after the veto, which would be next Sunday, February 11th. Most businesses don’t even realize that a major law requiring ALL businesses to offer time off when their employees request it, would begin as soon as Monday. Furthermore, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, the agency in charge of adopting the regulations that will govern how this law is implemented, has yet to draft the regulations businesses must adhere to.
Given the realization that a majority of businesses are ill prepared for this new mandate, today the Senate passed the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (SB 304). This emergency bill delays implementation of paid sick leave in Maryland until July 1, 2018. This will give businesses more time to prepare for the law to go into effect and allow the Department time to adopt the regulation.
The fate of this legislation now lies in the House of Delegates. They have until 11:59pm on February 10th to pass this emergency legislation, otherwise the law will take effect and countless unprepared businesses will face extreme fines and penalties.Harford County
Bond Funds Requested for Harford County
I’m proud to have co-sponsored SB 208, which was recently filed in the Senate to fund bonds for upgrades to the Harford Chapter of Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC), which provides a range of services to men, women and children who are victims or survivors of domestic, dating or sexual violence and stalking. The other project that would receive funding for improvements is the historic Baity Building which houses the Children’s Center of North Harford in Street, Maryland. It serves children ages 2 through 5 and provides extended day care and before and after-care for children who attend North Harford Elementary.
Baltimore County Council Requests School Board Audit
Last week, the Baltimore County Council requested that the State Legislative Auditor conduct an independent audit of the school systems’ no-bid contracts with education technology firms from 2012-2017. The request comes on the heels of the perjury indictment of former Superintendent Dallas Dance for allegedly failing to disclose nearly $147,000 in income he earned as a private consultant for education technology firms that have won millions of dollars’ worth of no-bid contracts with Baltimore County Public Schools. I applaud my colleagues on the Baltimore County Council for taking this action to demand transparency, so the school system can move forward and place focus where it belongs: educating the nearly 113,300 students who attend the Baltimore County Public Schools.
Transource Power Line Update
As a farmer and supporter of the agriculture and land preservation programs in Maryland, I am concerned about the impact of high voltage power line projects that are planned to traverse Northern Harford and Baltimore Counties. We have very successful land preservation programs that farmers and taxpayers partner on to ensure that our rural landscape is preserved for future generations.
Delegate Szeliga and I have cross-filed four bills that deal with the Transource powerline issue. These bills, along with several others filed by members of the Harford County Delegation, will help address the current Transource project plaguing Northern Harford County, as well as identify ways to protect Marylanders from across the state from projects like this in the future. We have asked the Public Service Commission, which will ultimately determine where the power lines are placed, to hold a public hearing in Harford County before making any permanent decisions. I will share the date as soon as it is announced.
Jarrettsville Fire Company AwardsJarrettsville VFC
I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the members of the Jarrettsville Fire Company who were honored for going “above and beyond” the call of duty at the company’s annual banquet last weekend. As a former volunteer firefighter, I know first-hand the hard work and sacrifice these brave first responders put forth each day. Thank you for all that you do to keep our communities safe!
What are your thoughts so far on the 2018 legislative session, and how will the legislation I’ve outlined today impact your family? Your feedback is important to me, and helps me more accurately represent your interests in Annapolis. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.
Senator J.B. Jennings