Donald C. Fry: Amid fiscal shuffle, Maryland lawmakers pass measures to spur business growth

By Donald C. Fry In a General Assembly session punctuated by more fiscal shuffling to close yet another budget deficit, state lawmakers this year managed to enact a number of bills that could favorably impact the Maryland’s business competitiveness. One of the more significant measures – the governor’s “sustainable communities” legislation – passed on the last day of the session. Among other things, the measure extends the availability of tax incentives for commercial rehabilitation of historic buildings and broadens incentives to other structures in preferred growth areas. It will make $10 million in grants available for FY 2011 -- up to a 25 percent credit for commercial rehabilitation of historic buildings and a 10 percent credit for other rehabilitations in designated growth areas. Strongly supported by the Greater Baltimore Committee and business advocates, this legislation will continue and broaden a proven tool for generating private-sector investment and economic activity. Since the... Continue reading
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Thursday’s List: Recession? I know, let’s raise taxes…

Thankfully, Maryland’s top leaders have enough sense to realize that the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression is not the ideal time to raise taxes. And, of course, November’s election didn’t hurt either. But that didn’t stop some of our friends on the left from identifying a slew of tax increases as the perfect solution/accompaniment/accelerant for the Great Recession. Most of these bills already have been rejected by more moderate voices in the General Assembly. But we thought you might like to see what some of our elected officials have been up to this year. Makes you wonder. Design by Christopher Attenborough House Bill 584: Delegate Justin Ross and others would mandate “combined” reporting on corporations doing business in Maryland. Fiscal analysts predict the tax change would prompt companies to pay more than $100 million in additional tax revenues to Maryland next year. Senate Bill 354: Senator Paul... Continue reading
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Builders: Did Stormwater Rules Get Eased?

by Thomas M. Farasy President, Maryland State Builders Association We object to the characterization of easing of the stormwater pollution rules. The rules, as one of the speakers noted, were strengthened by adding the outside construction date of 2017 in the now adopted emergency regulations. The news media should promote a discussion of facts, not the emotional rhetoric of certain constituents whose real agenda is to stop development. Simply stopping growth would lead to further recessionary impacts in Maryland and hinder the Chesapeake Bay clean up effort by eliminating redevelopment and retrofit opportunities. So what are the facts with regards to New Development: 1. Testimony by MDE has indicated that new development for the past twenty years has kept stormwater runoff in place. 2. Testimony by MDE has indicated that over 95% of the nitrogen and phosphorous come from sources other than new development; which is NOT part of the new... Continue reading
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Lawmakers approve stormwater compromise

By Tom LoBianco Maryland lawmakers broadly approved a compromise set of stormwater runoff regulations Tuesday night, resolving what had become the highest-profile environmental dispute of the 2010 General Assembly session. The new measure will curb stormwater runoff from new and existing developments, but now includes an extensive grandfather clause for projects already under way to operate under the previous, more lenient requirements. The stormwater regulations also delineate how developers can pay for alternatives to laying pervious surfaces that would absorb rainwater if they become prohibitive. With Tuesday night’s approval by the General Assembly’s Joint Administrative, Executive and Legislative Committee, the new regulations take effect immediately. “The proposal you have before you is a very sound one,” Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari Wilson told the committee during a hearing Tuesday. “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that in literally 30 days Maryland is going to be a national leader... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: The Political Lives of Peter Franchot

When the pundits and political professionals tally the winners and losers from this year’s General Assembly session, chances are that state Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) won’t be on either list. For Franchot, this is not a bad thing. After years as a lightning rod for controversy, Franchot, who is finishing up his first term as comptroller, finally has settled into the rudiments and routine of his job. He is realizing that, to be effective, he doesn’t have to be in the headlines all the time — or getting into fights with his fellow officeholders. In a recent interview, he talked just as much about the things he’s doing to refine the vast bureaucracy he controls, of winning the Snodgrass Award from the Association of Government Accountants — “the Heisman Trophy of state comptrollers,” as he put it — as anything controversial. Not that Franchot doesn’t have short-term and long-term political agendas.... Continue reading
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