Get ready for more taxes…
In our first full floor session of the 2021 Session, the House Democrats voted to override a few of Governor Hogan’s vetoes. Two of these were the expansion of the sales tax on select digital services like Netflix, Peleton, and Audible, and the Kirwan education bill.
“Our state has lost thousands of small businesses, thousands more are just hanging on, and the average Marylander has less money in their pocket than they did one year ago”, said Delegate Brian Chisholm. “The goods and services being taxed under this law are things that our constituents use every day, even more so since the start of the pandemic. Making them more expensive now is both vindictive and shortsighted.”
Additionally, the Kirwan bill comes with a huge price tag- estimated to be up to $6,200 per household! Many Marylanders are still taking unemployment after they permanently lost their jobs due to the pandemic- the solution shouldn’t be to raise their taxes.
We’re reconvening today and will consider more veto overrides, including the Digital Sales tax, mentioned in last week’s newsletter. The last year (and this year) has been hard for our state’s business as we continue to face lockdowns and fluctuating reopening schedules. As in-person dining periodically shuts down, many restaurants are relying on advertising their services online- which will now be taxed.
I will continue to fight against these ridiculous tax hikes and will keep you all updated on what happens.
We need to reform, not defund the police.
Police reform and accountability bills were heard this week in the House Judiciary Committee. Those bill hearings had hundreds of people testify and the bill hearing went until after midnight. There were many bills, most were focused on reforming law enforcement.
Every profession can and should be engaged in improvement. Innovation is amazing across the board, and if you’re not moving forward, you are drifting backward in your job skills as the world around us is changing as it has for the last 5,000 + years. Law enforcement is included, and we can work together to make law enforcement and public safety better.
No one wants to improve public safety and reform bad policing more than good cops. The Harford County Sheriff’s office was instrumental in cracking the case on the corrupt Baltimore City Police’s Gun Trace Taskforce. Law enforcement officers and unions are at the table working with lawmakers, advocates, and activists to improve public safety.
Another consequential bill for small businesses
HB 581, the Maryland Essential Workers’ Protection Act is a catastrophic bill that will harm employees’ jobs, small businesses, and our economy. Anything that can be done to defeat it should be done.
The bill would require essential employers to:
Pay Hazard Pay – An additional $3 per hour for “essential” workers
Expand paid health leave
Allow Right to Refuse Work with no clear guidelines
One employer wrote, “If this law had been in effect last spring, I would have laid everyone off and brought back less people at a slower pace if at all. Hazard pay of an additional $3 per hour is something I can’t afford to pay for the work my staff does.”
As a small business owner myself, I know firsthand how wrong it is to put this type of expense and burden on business, many that are struggling right now to keep the lights on and the door open. It is extremely troubling to see the leadership in Annapolis sponsor and embrace this bill with the clear devastating consequences it will have that will absolutely trickle down to the workers they claim to be helping.
According to the fiscal note of the bill (which outlines monetary elements like cost), affected State agencies would pay an additional $26.1 million every three months (averaging $104.2 million per year) to essential workers in SPMS, and grocery stores would pay an additional $87.2 million every three months (averaging $348.8 million per year) to essential workers.
Your taxes and grocery bill will increase to pay for the added cost to the state and grocery stores. Without a huge outcry of opposition, this bill will pass swiftly. I urge you to email, and CALL your legislator in Annapolis and every member of the Economic Matters Committee and ask every one of your friends, family members, and co-workers to do the same.
Here’s where you can get that information:
Economic Matters Committee: https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Committees/Details?cmte=ecm
Find Your Representatives: https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Members/District
The key to defeating this bill is to prevent it from getting out of the committee. I cannot stress enough the importance of letting the members of the Economic Matters Committee know, as well as the Speaker of the House, your strong opposition to this bill. It will devastate jobs and the Maryland economy.
We need your help!
Unfortunately, there are activists who want to defund and demoralize the police. I will not support any of the measures to do that. We cannot ask law enforcement to do more and do better while we cut their budgets or require them to employ costly programs without providing funds to support them.
Public safety is a chief responsibility of the government that must be funded by tax dollars. Paying law enforcement a salary that will attract the type of people we need to trust to keep us safe and secure is essential. Providing training and equipment is a requirement. Underpaying or underfunding law enforcement will only lead to hiring people who should not be cops.
Finally, I will point to another flashpoint in this discussion, School Resource Officers (SROs). Students have not been in their schools, for the most part, for the last year. Protecting our students while they are away from home may not be on the minds of many. Perhaps this is one good thing about the COVID pandemic. In January of 2020, there were five school shootings across our nation. Throughout 2019, there were scores of school shootings. And in 2018, we will never forget the SRO that was involved in stopping a student at Great Mills High in Southern Maryland (after he shot and killed a girl in the high school.)
Unfortunately, there is a strong push to get rid of SROs. I will ardently fight against the bills that want to remove SROs from our schools. Once our kids finally get back in their schools, parents and grandparents want to know their kids are safe and teachers and school personnel deserve to be safe.
Stay tuned as these important issues move through the Maryland General Assembly. So far, there have been 170 bills filed that affect law enforcement.