Republicans in the House of Delegates unveiled a package of bills Thursday that they say is aimed at helping Maryland businesses cope with the pandemic.
The bills are mostly a combination of tax breaks and tax credits.
One would provide refunds for some businesses on their business personal property taxes paid in 2020.
The sponsor, Del. Kevin Hornberger, of Cecil County, said in a news conference businesses that were forced to close, or significantly cut back their operations “still paid a tax on their ovens and broilers that remained cold and the barstools that remained empty.”
He said his bill will help businesses by giving them back their money.
Another bill would exempt from taxes any distribution from retirement accounts to cover COVID-19 related expenses during the 2020 and 2021 tax years.
“When you see someone drowning, you don't throw them a cinder block,” said the sponsor, Del. Wayne Hartman of the lower Eastern Shore. “Taxing early withdrawals would do just that.”
He called the bill “a critical life preserver for Maryland businesses and for citizens.”
Hartman also is sponsoring a bill that would create a tax credit for travel expenses within Maryland this year and in 2022. The credits would extend to food, beverages, lodging, admission to events and transportation costs.
“It is no secret that the hospitality industry is the hardest hit by COVID,” he said. “This bill is designed to encourage Marylanders to travel and support the Maryland hospitality industry.”
Del. April Rose, of Carroll County, is pushing a bill that would require county health departments to establish guidelines for when businesses could be inspected and an appeal process for business owners.
She said some local health officers have been making arbitrary decisions based in politics, not science.
“This is a tremendous amount of power in the hands of unelected and mostly unaccountable bureaucrats.”
She also is sponsoring a bill to give small businesses, churches, and other organizations immunity from civil liability if they inadvertently fail to comply with state and local health orders issued during the pandemic.