And away we go …
Maryland legislators return to Annapolis on Jan. 12 for the opening of the General Assembly’s 2022 legislation session, and the environment feels eerily similar to the 2021 session — restrictions placed on live meetings and hearings as a result of the latest COVID-19 surge.
Unlike last year, though, those restrictions aren’t completely virtual — but that doesn’t mean they’ll be easy to understand or navigate.
“The public will be allowed in the State House and House and Senate office buildings, and lawmakers will be able to welcome visitors to their offices on a limited basis,” Maryland Matters’ Hannah Gaskill reports. “But hearings will still be held virtually — for at least a month in the Senate, and possibly for the entire three-month session in the House.”
The uncertainty regarding rules on meetings and hearings adds even more complexity to the MACPA’s advocacy efforts.
“It’s a huge challenge,” said Tom Hood, chair of the MACPA’s Legislative Executive Committee. “Advocacy is about relationships — the relationships we have with legislators, the ability to talk with them both formally and informally. (A virtual session) moves you into a more formal, controlled way of communicating with legislators. It’s even more challenging when you consider the level of reorganization that we’re facing in the General Assembly.”
That reorganization has had a significant impact on many of the key House and Senate committees whose activity the MACPA closely monitors.
- In the House Ways and Means Committee, which considers matters related to state and local taxation, Del. Anne Kaiser has stepped down as chair, a role she held since 2017. Replacing her is Del. Vanessa Atterbeary from Howard County.
- Atterbeary previously served as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which considers matters related to civil and criminal law. Del. David Moon from Montgomery County has succeeded her.
- Nancy Kopp, who served as Maryland treasurer for nearly 20 years, has retired. Del. Dereck Davis from Prince George’s County has been elected by the General Assembly as the state’s new treasurer.
- In becoming treasurer, Davis relinquished his seat as chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, which considers matters related to business occupations and professional / business regulation. Replacing him is Del. C.T. Wilson from Charles County.
- Del. Kathleen Dumais vacated her position as vice chair of the House Economic Matters Committee when she was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan as a Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge. Replacing her is the committee’s new vice chair, Del. Brian Crosby from St. Mary’s County.
- Three committee chairs — Del. Maggie McIntosh from House Appropriations, Del. Shane Pendergrass from House Health and Government Operations, and Sen. Delores Kelley from Senate Finance — will retire at the end of this session.
- Maryland’s deputy comptroller, Sharonne Bonardi, has been named executive director of the Federation of Tax Administrators. She is succeeded by Andrew Schaufele.
- With 2022 as an election year, Maryland’s powerful Board of Public Works will receive an entire makeover. Maryland’s governor, comptroller, and treasurer will all change hands this year, the first time all three seats have changed in the same year in more than a century.
What does all of that mean?
Simply put, it means a lot of work for the MACPA’s advocacy volunteers. The association put a lot of time and effort into building fruitful relationships with these departing leaders. We’re starting fresh with new leadership in these areas. That takes time, effort, and CPAs who know these new leaders and can rebuild those relationships from the ground up.
That work will be ongoing. More urgent, though, is the MACPA’s 2022 legislative agenda.
It includes four key issues:
- Opposing sales taxes on professional services, including those provided by CPAs.
- Opposing efforts to replace Maryland’s contributory negligence standard with a comparative fault rule. Comparative fault is a legal maneuver that would result in increased costs of doing business and decreased productivity.
- Supporting proposed amendments to the sales tax on digital download and streaming services, as recommended by a Maryland Chamber of Commerce working group that includes members of the MACPA’s State Tax Committee. The Maryland Chamber “supports legislation that increases clarity and helps with compliance while reducing unintended taxation and maintaining legislative intent.” So does the MACPA.
- Supporting proper funding for the Maryland Comptroller’s Office, in an effort to help tax professionals better do their jobs and serve their clients.
Those issues will be front and center during the MACPA’s annual CPA Day, scheduled for Jan. 20. The event once again will be completely virtual and worth two hours of free CPE. Get complete details and register here.
What should we expect?
A few things.
- First of all, it’s an election, so don’t expect to see any major tax legislation out of the General Assembly. Next year, however, might be a different story.
- Secondly, the 2022 elections mean we’ll likely see plenty of political posturing and the introduction of a number of bills that will attract the attention of voters but likely won’t go anywhere.
- Finally, expect to see more political division in Maryland. When you add redistricting with legislators retiring or moving to new positions, you’ll likely see a net loss — fewer “middle of the road” legislators who are willing to work on both sides of the aisle.
Find out more about this year’s session by listening to my recent interview with Tom Hood, chair of the MACPA’s Legislative Executive Committee, for our “Future-Proof” podcast:
Read more about the 2022 legislative session here:
- The Maryland General Assembly: A preview of the 2022 session (WYPR)
- Gov. Hogan proposes $4.6 billion tax relief package (Associated Press)
- Budget surplus, pot, virus, climate top issues in Maryland (Associated Press)
- The issues for small business to watch in the 2022 session (The Daily Record)
- Big issues facing General Assembly during 2022 session (Manis Canning & Associates)
- Redistricting, legalizing marijuana and climate at the top of the agenda as Maryland General Assembly returns (The Baltimore Sun)
- Assembly’s COVID-19 protocols restore public access to legislative complex, limit streaming (Maryland Matters)
- COVID again leads to rule changes for Maryland General Assembly session (The Daily Record)
- Business community lays out legislative priorities for upcoming General Assembly session (WMDT)
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