From the Harford County Chamber of Commerce:
The Harford County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Legislative Wrap-Up event at the Maryland Golf and Country Clubs on April 27. Harford County’s elected officials in the Maryland General Assembly participated in a panel event in which they shared their accomplishments from the 2017 legislative session and took questions from the Harford Chamber and members of the business community. The legislators were generally positive about the climate for business legislation over the past session and looking toward 2018 despite the passage and expected veto override of the anti-business Mandated Paid Leave bill.
The Harford Delegation, comprised of ten Republicans and one Democrat, acknowledged a strong sense of bipartisanship that emerged during the session. Although the 2016 presidential election provided ample fodder for legislators who hoped to drag Washington political divisions down to the state level, elected officials on both sides of the aisle recognized the importance of supporting local business by defeating many extreme pieces of legislation while championing commonsense measures to boost the state economy. The Delegation had ample praise for Governor Larry Hogan, whose proposed balanced budget ensured funding for education and many important projects across Harford County. “This year saw some of the most harmful legislation ever proposed for local businesses – especially small businesses,” noted Angela Rose, President and CEO of the Harford Chamber. “Harford’s elected officials provided a great deal of reassurance to our community leaders during the Legislative Wrap-Up. They let us know that they want to hear our voices. They want to know how proposed legislation affects us. We’re glad to know that they are willing to listen, but it’s also incumbent upon us to speak up and share our concerns.”
Among the many topics discussed were liquor and medical marijuana laws, bills affecting military veterans and employees of Aberdeen Proving Ground, and the ongoing debate about the $15 Minimum Wage proposal. Delegate Lisanti noted that Maryland lawmakers must grapple with slowly replacing an antiquated set of liquor laws that “date back to Prohibition” in some cases. Senator Jennings and Delegate Szeliga voiced their support for medical marijuana, but detailed several roadblocks that materialized as licenses were awarded during the session. Senator Cassilly spoke about the importance of making Maryland a competitive home for veterans by reducing the tax on retirement income; many states surrounding Maryland are tax-free in this regard, causing an exodus of second-career holders and a loss of tax revenue for the state.
Delegates McComas and Reilly shared how the funding secured for Harford County devoted to education and the arts were a boon for the local economy, as many of these programs are designed to attract APG employees who have expressed an interest in them for their children. The entire Delegation present at the event expressed disapproval of the proposed dramatic increase in the minimum wage, emphasizing its unsustainability for business and reminding members that even Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, once a strong advocate in the “Fight for Fifteen,” vetoed the $15 minimum wage when she saw its potential deleterious effects as mayor.
The Legislative Wrap-Up was sponsored by: the Greater Harford Committee; Harford Community College; Phil Romm Consulting; Vincenti Decoys; Boyle Buick GMC; and Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger, P.A. The panel portion of the morning was facilitated by Christopher Marchsteiner, the Legislative Aide for the Harford Chamber.