Eastern Shore Delegation Tout Legislative Accomplishment at Post Legislative Session Forum
SALISBURY, Md. – The Eastern Shore Delegation touted their accomplishments and answered questions from the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon, as part of the Post Legislative Forum.
The members pointed to their achievements such as passing a $61 billion state budget, repealing a ban on natural gas construction by 2024, while passing tax breaks for purchasing farm equipment and retiring seniors. Senator Mary Beth Carozza says the senior tax break was 8 years in the making.
“I have people that told me if we could not make the progress they were thinking of leaving the state of Maryland some just crossing the line and into Delaware or going south so this became for us a top priority and a top priority for the Governor,” she said.
She tells us like many of the bills passed this session, the senior tax breaks were funded by Maryland’s budget surplus.
But not all bills that were passed saw unanimous support from the delegation, like paid family leave, which drew criticism from the business community and republican members of the delegation.
“That kind of bill is coming at the wrong time with historic inflation, with a war in eastern Europe, a recession that I feel is about to start, this is just an additional burden for small businesses,” said Representative Chris Adams.
Speaker Pro Tempore Sheree Sample Hughes defended the legislation, saying the state has until 2025 before payouts begin, and calling on her own experience of caring for a sick family member.
“This program for me personally, I’m looking at citizens who had to care for loved ones care for their sick child or care for their husbands who just had open heart surgery which was me in 2017 and its why I had to support it,” she said.
One area members of the delegation said they wished they could have done more was expanding the state’s gas tax holiday, and eliminating the increase in the state’s gas tax as tied to the CPI.
Currently, the gas tax in Maryland is set to increase as inflation increases, which Senator Carozza tells us was something she was hoping to eliminate.
“We had introduced the bill to stop the increasing but unfortunately it did not pass,” she said.
Members of the delegation tell us they will spend the time between legislative sessions working on implementing the state’s paid family leave and state-run insurance for small businesses, working out the greater details of the policy that passed, and scaling up state resources to support the rollout.