Mid-Shore law­mak­ers back Ho­gan’s pro-busi­ness at­ti­tude



Spe­cial from the Star Demo­crat

— State law­mak­ers from the Mid-Shore gave their an­nual leg­isla­tive wrap-up at the Tal­bot County Cham­ber of Com­merce lun­cheon on Thurs­day at the Tide­wa­ter Inn.

Sen. Ad­die Eckardt, Del. Johnny Mautz and Del. Chris Adams, all Re­pub­li­cans from the Mid-Shore, each hit on dif­fer­ent as­pects of the ses­sion — mostly busi­ness-re­lated, some not — dur­ing the lun­cheon, which was spon­sored by 1880 Bank.

But all three echoed a com­mon theme while dis­cussing the re­sults of the 2016 Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly to a room full of busi­ness­men and women — mak­ing Mary­land open for busi­ness.

Mak­ing Mary­land open for busi­ness is an theme com­monly used by Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan since his 2014 cam­paign and re-


cur­rently ever since.

This past leg­isla­tive ses­sion, Mautz said it seemed like it was Ho­gan ver­sus Demo­cratic lead­ers of the House and Se­nate. While they com­pro­mised and ne­go­ti­ated on sev­eral bills, many bills were be­ing pushed through, or at least tried to be pushed through, that were not as a co­he­sive of an ef­fort across party lines.

“The leg­is­la­ture is still work­ing its will,” Mautz said. The Mary­land leg­is­la­ture has long been dom­i­nated by Democrats, and East­ern Shore Re­pub­li­cans over the years often found them­selves fight­ing to stop var­i­ous pro­pos­als.

Mautz said Ho­gan in­tro­duced bills that aimed to im­prove Mary­land’s econ­omy. In his ex­pe­ri­ence on the House Eco­nomic Mat­ters Com­mit­tee, which com­mit­tee deals with the most busi­ness reg­u­la­tions, “a lot of the gover­nor’s pro­pos­als were sum­mar­ily dis­missed.” Adams also is a mem­ber of that com­mit­tee.

Two Demo­cratic pro­pos­als tar­get­ing busi­nesses that Re­pub­li­cans gen­er­ally op­posed how­ever did not go through this past ses­sion — paid sick leave and pre­dic­tive sched­ul­ing man­dates.

Both were na­tion­wide cam­paigns, and Mautz de­scribed the pro­pos­als in An­napo­lis as a “one-siz­e­fits-all” bill that were “some of the most pro­gres­sive and lib­eral pro­pos­als that were ac­tu­ally put for­ward through­out the coun­try.”

“There may be a time and place for pre­dic­tive sched­ul­ing. There may be a time and place for paid sick leave, but to come up and push for the one-siz­e­fits-all, broad­est, most ex­pan­sive man­date is go­ing to have an enor­mous im­pact in our econ­omy and par­tic­u­larly our small busi­nesses,” Mautz said.

The paid sick leave bill would have re­quired busi- nesses with at least 15 em­ploy­ees to pro­vide paid sick leave. The pre­dic­tive sched­ul­ing bill would have re­quired em­ploy­ers to set sched­ules three weeks in ad­vance and pro­vide pay­ment for those em­ploy­ees called in to work within that three-week win­dow.

Mautz said had those two pro­pos­als passed the leg­is­la­ture, busi­nesses would likely just cut po­si­tions if the reg­u­la­tions were too oner­ous, and he doesn’t think “that’s the way to foster eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and it’s not a way to help peo­ple who need help the most.”

Those two pro­pos­als will likely come back next leg­isla­tive ses­sion, Mautz said.

Eckardt said she has been work­ing on an in­come tax mod­i­fi­ca­tion, wherein re­tirees would be able to get their pen­sions ex­cluded from the state’s in­come tax if they don’t be­long to an em­ployer-spon­sored re­tire­ment plan.

“That would


the play­ing field for a lot of cit­i­zens, and for a lit­tle bit of in­vest­ment, if we did that, I be­lieve it would pre­vent those fam­i­lies, older cit­i­zens and fam­i­lies, who are bor­der­line from drop­ping into poverty ... from drop­ping down to low in­come or no in­come,” Eckardt said.

But, Eckardt called the bal­anced $42 bil­lion bud­get that passed this year good news. There were no ma­jor tax in­creases for the sec­ond year in a row, and Ho­gan has been re­duc­ing taxes and fees in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties, even af­ter the leg­isla­tive ses­sion has ended, al­though he didn’t have as good of re­sults with Demo­cratic lead­ers in re­gards to re­duc­ing taxes and fees dur­ing the leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

“Hav­ing a bal­anced bud­get sets the frame­work for ev­ery­one in the leg­is­la­ture and in the ex­ec­u­tive of­fice, the agen­cies, for clean­ing up and bud­get­ing their ex­penses to know what is avail­able to work with as far as state fi­nanc­ing,” Mautz said.

Adams said he’s start­ing to no­tice a rift be­tween young Democrats and sea­soned Democrats in the leg­is­la­ture. Young Demo­cratic politi­cians this past ses­sion strongly pushed their pro­gres­sive agen­das, he said, cre­at­ing a rift “against Democrats who un­der­stand that our state can’t move for­ward with­out the busi­ness com­mu­nity and what it takes to grow jobs and cre­ate eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

But Ho­gan’s mes­sage and strong plat­form on busi­nesses is work­ing, Adams said. Mary­land is lead­ing the na­tion in job growth, he said, and “I be­lieve it’s be­cause the busi­ness com­mu­nity un­der­stands what’s happening.”

“The per­cep­tion is re­al­ity that our gover­nor is try­ing to make it eas­ier to do busi­ness in the state,” Adams said.

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