Maryland Tech Council General Assembly Weekly Report
Week ending January 29, 2021
This week, there were a number of bills of interest to the Tech Council that were heard in both Chambers. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee heard three important bills advanced by the Department of Commerce – Senate Bill 19: Economic Development – Biotechnology Investment Incentive Tax Credit Program – Alterations; Senate Bill 160: Economic Development – Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Tax Credit Program – Expansion and Extension; and Senate Bill 196: Economic Development – Research and Development Tax Credit – Alterations. These bills propose to make meaningful changes to existing tax credit programs that are intended to incentivize investment in early-stage companies, broaden the technologies, which are eligible to receive the credit, and improve the effectiveness of these important programs. Marty Rosendale registered the Tech Council’s strong support for these initiatives in testimony before the Committee.
Also, in the tax policy realm, but opposed by the Tech Council, Senate Bill 113: Opportunity Zone Tax Deduction Reform Act of 2021 was also heard by the Senate. Previously heard in the House, the bill would make changes in Maryland tax policy that would make a qualified opportunity fund less attractive to potential investors and therefore negatively impact their interest in investment in our leading industries. The House Ways and Means Committee heard House Bill 229: Corporate Income Tax – Throwback Rule, which has been considered in previous Sessions. The Tech Council again registered its opposition.
Of particular interest to the Technology Sector of the Tech Council, Senate Bill 16/House Bill 218: Commercial Law – Consumer Protection – Biometric Identifiers and Biometric Information Privacy were heard by both Houses. The legislation is opposed by the Tech Council and a number of other associations and business interests. MTC argued that while they recognize the importance of protecting consumer information, including biometric identifiers and information, the issue should and must be resolved on the federal level as meaningful consistent compliance by industry would be more reliably satisfied with a uniform nationwide solution. Further, the Tech Council noted that the bill would have the effect of imposing millions of dollars of compliance costs on tech businesses and would harm the State’s economy more than it would protect consumer privacy.
House Bill 162: Prescription Drug Affordability Board – Upper Payment Limits and Reports was heard by the House Health and Government Operations Committee. The bill undermines the framework for the work of the Board as defined in the legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019 that established the Board. The bill was not well-received and is not likely to move forward.
Finally, House Bill 97: Department of Housing and Community Development – Office of Digital Inclusion – Established (Digital Connectivity Act of 2021), which is supported by the Tech Council, was heard by the House Economic Matters Committee. The legislation establishes the Office of Digital Inclusion in the Department of Housing and Community Development. This newly created Office is essentially the renaming of the current Office of Rural Broadband coupled with a comprehensive enhancement of the Office’s goals, objectives, and responsibilities. The legislation reflects a recognition of the importance of working, not only with the rural jurisdictions, but across all jurisdictions in the State to provide Internet access and connectivity to all residents of the State.