On Thursday, January 21, 2021, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce held its January General Membership Luncheon virtually. SACC President/CEO Bill Chambers welcomed the attendees and the featured speaker, Ms. Ashley Duckman, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.
The presentation focused on the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session which just convened in Annapolis. Ms. Duckman commented on the new rules and guidelines governing testimony on bills and the challenges legislators face while in session amidst a pandemic. While passing a state budget is constitutionally mandated, several other anti-business legislative measures will be gaining momentum to move through the General Assembly.
The veto override of the Digital Advertising Sales Tax Bill will be coming up for a veto override vote in the House of Delegates in early February. Last year’s Bill (HB732) passed but was vetoed by Governor Hogan. This new tax measure designed to generate $250 million in new State tax revenues would also impact small businesses statewide as this tax on large digital advertising companies would be passed down to all businesses at every level. The State Chamber and Salisbury Area Chamber have joined a coalition (Marylanders for Fair Taxation) to derail the override vote.
Ms. Duckman also touched on a dangerous new employer mandate that has been gaining some steam in past General Assembly Sessions. The Paid Family Medical Leave Act would mandate employers to add ne paid sick leave days over and above what each employer may already offer to their employees. Ms. Duckman commented, “Maryland businesses at this time can least afford any new State mandated expenses thrust upon them in the middle of a pandemic.”
Ms. Duckman then spoke about Comprehensive Liability Protections against COVID related lawsuits. This was to have been included in the latest Federal Relief legislation but was excluded. Senate Bill 210 would provide these critical protections of targeted businesses across Maryland providing a vital protection against legal actions taken against businesses by employees, customers and others.
Ms., Duckman observed that in these first few weeks of the Session, more than one-thousand Bills have been filed and are being scheduled for hearings in the House and the Senate. This volume of legislative initiatives will mean long days and nights for legislators. She implored the attendees to reach out to the SACC and make their voices heard on damaging or helpful legislation by contacting their legislators by email, phone or snail mail.
The February General Membership Luncheon will be in person at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Maryland on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:30AM.
The featured speakers will be a panel of the Lower Shore’s three University Presidents representing Salisbury University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Wor-Wic Community College. Dr. Charles White, Dr. Heidi Anderson and Dr. Ray Hoy will discuss the challenges each of their institutions are facing in the COVID crisis and what future challenges and opportunities there will be for students and the regional business community.
This is a socially distanced event and masks are required while not seated. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for future members. Register at www.salisburyarea.com.