Stimulus bills are dominating much of the discussion in DC and Annapolis it seems as Maryland officials promote a state stimulus plan to help small businesses impacted because of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
And many of these proposed measures seem timed to help strengthen the impact of the federal measures being pushed at the federal level.
WBAL TV reports that no less than five bills are currently moving through the legislative pipeline to not only help small businesses in Maryland but also promote consumer spending at the same time. One of the bills would create an appeals process for businesses that were slapped with COVID-19 safety violations from the Maryland Department of Health.
The aim of the bill is not to shield willfully negligent firms from the consequences of their actions; rather, the bill protects smaller businesses from what could otherwise be expensive litigation.
Carroll County Delegate April Rose, R-District 5, said of the proposed bill, “The bill protects these small businesses and other entities from expensive and time-consuming litigation by granting them immunity from lawsuits so long as their noncompliance was not willful or due to gross negligence.”
A frequently controversial topic, this bill would create a mechanism within the Department of Health exclusively tasked with handling these unique cases.
Yet another bill would focus on the tax burden small businesses face from 2020. Alongside the need to pay rent and incoming bills, Maryland’s business sector also have to face the dreaded annual ritual of paying taxes yet this time with much-depleted coffers holding funds that could actually determine whether the business is able to pay taxes next year or not.
Cecil County Delegate Kevin Hornberger, R-District 35A said of the bill, “House Bill 1275 not only forgives those taxes for one year, but it also holds harmless the counties and jurisdictions that would normally have that tax remitted to them by taking away from the Rainy Day Fund.”
Normally, taxpayers would be penalized for withdrawing money from retirement accounts yet legislators argue this is the equivalent of punishing them for using their own money in an emergency. Still, a state bill wouldn’t necessarily shield a taxpayer from the federal tax implications of such a move.
Another bill would permit Maryland workers to make a penalty-free withdrawal from a retirement account in order to help shore up personal funds. Another bill is aimed at helping commuters that travel more than fifty miles per day for work while yet another seems to mimic Japan’s internal tourism campaign, encouraging Marylanders to become tourists in their own state.
There is some sense of urgency among legislators as well to combine the impact of the federal relief with a state-based effort. While many are optimistic that the dire impact of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 can be overcome in 2021, there is no guarantee of growth and prosperity in 2021 and beyond thus making these efforts all the more necessary to help that happen.