2024 Session: Adjourned

The gavel fell on Maryland’s legislative session, marking adjournment sine die on April 8, and lawmakers concluded a session defined by a flurry of bills, intense debates, and pivotal decisions. From addressing pressing issues, to shaping the state’s future trajectory, the 2024 session was full of legislation aimed at serving Marylanders and shaping the state’s landscape for years to come.

Maryland Protecting Opportunities and Regional Trade (PORT) Act HB153/SB1188
Signed in law by Governor Moore on April 9th.
In the early hours of March 26, 2024, the Key Bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River following a collision with a large container ship, resulting in profound loss of life and significant disruptions to the operations of the Port of Baltimore. In response, the State legislature swiftly introduced the PORT Act, a pivotal piece of legislation designed to provide crucial support to individuals and businesses affected by the Port’s halted operations, while also honoring the memory of those tragically lost. The PORT Act established the Fallen Transportation Workers Scholarship Program, aimed at extending tuition assistance to students who are dependents or surviving spouses of the workers tragically killed. Additionally, recognizing the challenges faced by those temporarily laid off due to this catastrophic event, the legislation waived the work search requirement for Unemployment Insurance benefits. An emergency bill, it went into effect immediately on April 9, 2024.

Horse Racing- Racing Facility Ownership and Construction HB1524
Hours before adjournment on Monday, April 8, the Maryland legislature ushered through a transformative bill poised to reshape the state’s racing industry and pave the way for the State’s acquisition of Pimlico Racecourse, home of the Preakness. With the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority slated to assume control of Pimlico starting July 1, 2024, plans are underway to relocate the Preakness to Laurel Park for 2025 and 2026, facilitating the much-needed reconstruction and rejuvenation of Pimlico. Anticipation mounts for the grand return of the Preakness to its historic grounds in 2027, as Laurel Park prepares to bid its final farewell upon the event’s homecoming to Pimlico. Upon receiving the Governor’s signature, this legislation will go into effect June 1, 2024.

Renter’s Rights and Stabilization Act of 2024 HB693/SB481
This Departmental bill lays the groundwork for the establishment of the Office of Tenant and Landlord Affairs within the Department of Housing and Community Development, mandating the creation and dissemination of a comprehensive Maryland Tenants’ Bill of Rights. The office’s core mission is to empower tenants by furnishing them with the necessary resources to comprehend their rights under state law and offer guidance on avenues for reporting any violations thereof. The legislation stipulates that prior to offering a rental property to the public for sale, the property owner must extend the right of first refusal to the tenant, affording them a 30-day window to submit a written offer to purchase the property. Upon receiving the Governor’s signature, this legislation will go into effect October 1, 2024.

Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2024 HB947
This landmark legislation sets forth stringent measures to prevent firearm industry members from knowingly contributing to public harm through the sale, manufacture, importation, or marketing of firearm-related products. It mandates that the industry implements reasonable controls pertaining to the sale, manufacture, distribution, possession, and use of such products. Moreover, the law grants authority to the Attorney General, County Attorneys, or the Baltimore City Solicitor to initiate legal action against any firearm industry member found in violation. In such proceedings, the designated authorities are empowered to pursue injunctive relief, restitution, compensatory and punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and any other appropriate relief. Upon receiving the Governor’s signature, this legislation will go into effect June 1, 2024.

Governor Moore signed over one hundred bills hours after adjournment Sine Die, on April 9, 2024. He can sign bills until May 28th. If he doesn’t sign a bill, it will still go into effect. The tentative dates for upcoming bill signings are: April 25th, May 9th, and May 16th.

Maryland’s 2024 Legislative Session: Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

April 8, 2024

As the clock strikes midnight tonight, the curtains will close on Maryland’s 2024 Legislative Session with Adjournment Sine Die. It’s a moment that signals the end of intense debates, passionate advocacy, and tireless work by lawmakers and organizations alike. The final day of the session is often marked by a flurry of activity, as legislators rush to finalize bills and tie up loose ends before the gavel falls.

For organizations involved in advocacy and government relations, the conclusion of Maryland’s session brings both reflection and anticipation. With legislative attention shifting away from Maryland, it’s time to redirect focus towards neighboring states.

Here’s what this transition means for your organization:
  1. Shift Focus to Delaware and Pennsylvania:
Delaware’s session ends on June 30, 2024, presenting an opportunity to engage with legislators in the First State. Pennsylvania’s session operates year-round, providing ongoing avenues for advocacy efforts. Utilize various communication channels, from emails to text messages, to continue reaching out to legislators in these states.
  1. Government Relations Services Extend Beyond Maryland:
Our government relations services remain available to facilitate engagement with lawmakers in Delaware and Pennsylvania. We have relationships and extensive knowledge in state legislatures as well as local governments, and at the Federal level. Find out more about our Government Relations services.
  1. Launch Grassroots Campaigns:
Start grassroots campaigns to broaden your advocacy scope & mobilize constituents and voters at the federal, state (Pennsylvania & Delaware), and local levels to help support, or oppose, policies pending before legislative or regulatory agencies. Learn more about How an Advocacy Service Provider Can Help with Grassroots Campaigns.
  1. Reflecting on Maryland:
Begin coalition building and strategic planning for the 2025 legislative session in Maryland. Identify legislative priorities and opportunities to capitalize on momentum for the next session. Collaborate with our Public Relations team to build and cultivate relationships with allies, third parties, and internal and external stakeholders. Compass Public Relations can also build and manage coalitions focused on specific issues and policies, bringing together a variety of individuals and organizations to advocate together in strategic and coordinated ways.

As Maryland’s legislative session draws to a close, the work doesn’t end; it merely evolves. By shifting focus to neighboring states, continuing advocacy efforts, and planning for future sessions, organizations can ensure that their voices are heard and their objectives are advanced. As we bid farewell to Maryland’s 2024 Legislative Session, let’s look forward to new opportunities and challenges on the horizon.

Tax Legislation & How It Could Affect Businesses in Maryland

In our April newsletter, we caught up all the latest updates on tax legislation that’s stirring debate across Maryland. This month, all eyes are on HB1515, a bill proposing some major changes to the state’s sales and use tax. Let’s dive in and unravel what’s brewing!

So what’s in the Pot? HB1515: Sales and Use Tax – Rate Reduction and Services
HB1515 isn’t just your average tax bill; it’s a hot pot of proposals aiming to shake up Maryland’s tax landscape. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on the menu:Purposeful Alterations: The bill suggests altering the definitions of “taxable price” and “taxable service” to cover various new services. This means that services like accounting, legal, real estate, pet grooming, funerals and more could be fair game for taxation. Additionally, it aims to tweak the rate of the sales and use tax, along with adjusting the percentage of gross receipts from vending machine sales and dyed diesel fuel subject to tax. Oh, and let’s not forget about the rate of tax applied to charges linked with sales of alcoholic beverages. Phew, that’s a mouthful!Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

 Proponents’ Pour: Sponsor David Moon (D-20) argues that HB1515 is more than just a tax tweak – it’s a “modernization of the economy”! The bill proposes lowering the state sales tax rate from 6% à 5% but also opens previously untaxed services to said taxation. Supporters claim that while this may result in a net loss of $1 billion in sales tax revenue, it could rake in a whopping $4 billion from taxing services, leaving us with a sweet $3 billion surplus. Some say it’s the much needed fix our tax system needs especially given current budget shortfalls.

 Opponents’ Brew: On the flip side, opponents are brewing up a storm. Del. Bob Long (R-06) had some fiery words in disapproval, claiming it’s just another way to empty his pockets, even in the afterlife (given the bill introduces the potential for funeral taxes)! The Maryland Republican Party didn’t hold back either, labeling it as an “everything tax” and predicting it to be the largest single tax increase in the state’s history. Indicating the bill’s controversial nature, Senate President Ferguson (D-46) also stood firm, claiming the bill won’t make it past the Senate gates.

So Sip or Spill? The Debate Continues

While proponents and opponents go head-to-head, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is making its stance clear: they’re not raising a toast to HB1515. They argue that while lowering the state sales tax rate sounds delightful, expanding it to a wider range of services could leave a bitter taste in everyone’s mouths. From mom-and-pop shops to emerging companies, everyone could feel the pinch. They fear it could lead to an exodus of businesses and burden low-income Marylanders.


Compass Law is here to help your business navigate changes like this – even if this specific bill does not pass, there may be others like it, and we are here to help your business through it!
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