Competitiveness at Risk: Rising Threats and Opportunities for Maryland Business
Feb 6, 2024
Maryland Chamber of Commerce & Maryland Chamber Federation's Joint Statement on Opposing Detrimental Policies for Business and Advocating for Growth-Stimulating Measures
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — On behalf of more than 6,800 Maryland businesses and 30 local and regional chambers and statewide associations, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Maryland Chamber Federation are issuing an urgent warning about policy directions threatening jobs and economic growth, while encouraging support for policies that will enable growth, investment and economic competitiveness.
We urge opposition to policies detrimental to economic growth:
Recent data reveals Maryland is lagging behind regional and national competitors in critical areas such as workforce shortages, high business taxes and costs, inadequate infrastructure spending and economic growth. This undermines our economic competitiveness at a time when we need to focus on growth and job creation.
Several policies under consideration by the General Assembly risk exacerbating these challenges by imposing additional costs and barriers to business investment and expansion, including:
- Increased taxes for business: A large proposal has been introduced to increase taxes on small businesses and adopt anti-competitive tax proposals that will surely hinder the very business investment and growth crucial for expanding Maryland's tax base and increasing state revenues in the long run.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program Modifications: Portions of this proposed legislation threaten to make it more difficult for employers who already have an equivalent private program in place to be exempted from the state program.
- Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act: As introduced, this legislation doubles the unemployment insurance tax burden for every Maryland employer, placing an undue burden on job creators during a time of already high and increasing business costs. According to U.S. Department of Labor data, Maryland businesses already pay more per employee than any surrounding states or Washington, D.C.
- Employment Discrimination - Use of Cannabis Products: This legislation would prohibit an employer from taking an employment action based on a positive drug test. This makes it nearly impossible for an employer to ensure a safe working environment and raises concerns for liability, increased insurance rates and overall unfriendliness towards businesses.
We advocate for support of policies that stimulate economic growth and competitiveness:
Just as problematic policies can undermine competitiveness and growth, prudent policies can strengthen our economic foundation. We urge support for measures that enable business investment, job creation and regulatory process improvements, including:
- Military Retirement Relief: Eliminating age restrictions and phasing in a 100 percent exemption of military retirement income over the next three years acknowledges the contributions of military retirees to Maryland’s future economic growth. Providing incentives for military retirees to stay in Maryland enhances our workforce and supports the state’s economy.
Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act: Removing barriers to the growth of Maryland’s technology infrastructure by streamlining the regulatory process for emergency backup power generation will promote business investment and growth. Simplifying the regulatory process ensures that Maryland’s growing high-tech industries receive the support they need.
"As we confront the challenges facing Maryland's business community, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce stands united with over 6,800 businesses and 30 local chambers, advocating for growth-oriented policies while opposing those that hinder our economic competitiveness,” said Mary D. Kane, President & CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. “The data is clear – workforce shortages, high business taxes, and inadequate infrastructure spending jeopardize our position in the region. We call on policymakers to reject proposals that impose additional burdens and to embrace measures that foster investment, job creation and regulatory improvements.”
“Representing 30 local and regional chambers, the Maryland Chamber Federation is deeply concerned about policies under consideration by the General Assembly that threaten Maryland’s economic growth,” said Rick Weldon, President & CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and member of the Maryland Chamber Federation. “Numerous proposals risk significantly raising the cost of doing business in Maryland, hindering our state's ability to grow, compete, and thrive, and threatening the well-being of our workforce and communities. We urge policymakers to carefully consider the implications and take actions that will ensure Maryland creates a thriving, competitive business environment.”
By fostering business investment and growth, we can strengthen Maryland’s economy, making it a more attractive place to live, work and grow while expanding our tax base to support critical initiatives.
On behalf of Maryland's business community, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Maryland Chamber Federation urge decisive action. Without swift, prudent reforms to make Maryland more business friendly and economically competitive, we risk economic growth, jobs and our reputation as a hub for enterprise. The future of Maryland’s workforce, communities and families hangs in the balance this legislative session.
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About the Maryland Chamber of Commerce
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is the only statewide business advocacy organization and the leading voice for business in the state. Together with their 6,800+ members, they form a statewide coalition that is committed to ensuring that Maryland is attracting and retaining quality jobs, developing vibrant, sustainable communities and staying at the forefront of global competitiveness and economic prosperity.
About the Maryland Chamber Federation
The Maryland Chamber Federation, an initiative of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, is a partnership representing 30 local and regional chambers of commerce, along with statewide associations and their members. By uniting diverse business communities, the Federation strives to ensure that the perspectives of Maryland’s small businesses are actively heard in legislative discussions, promoting economic growth and community vitality. Learn more at mdchamber.org/federation