The month of February was a busy one, but here we are on the 2nd of March and it seems like last month was actually a piece of cake. There were many bills introduced in February that would affect our members. The Governor’s Gas Tax Bill with some sort indexing was 1 out of 5 bills introduced in Maryland’s General Assembly. There was one that would have limited gas price to 5 cent above cost. Another bill about Tire Aging that would open tire sellers up to litigation was introduced. Legislators introduced a bill to put Sales Tax on Services (labor) which included car repair, haircuts, cellular service, shoe repair, dieting services - well you get the idea. Missing from that bill are Attorney’s fees, well maybe they just forgot to add that. We saw another bill for Wind Power Fees that would cost businesses a 2.5% increase in monthly billing. They even introduced one to add tax on plastic bottles - even though we have excellent recycling programs now.
We are against all of the above bills, we are tired of the same old broken record that keeps taking money out of small businesses pockets to bale out failed and misguided programs, politicians that that use the people that elect them as cannon fodder and laws that make litigation the rule of the day.
SO far, this is what WMDA and CAR have been working on in Annapolis.
On February 21st, WMDA, CAR, TIA, MAPDA, CABA along with RMA and tire manufacturer representatives all testified against the Tire Aging Bill. Truthfully, WMDA objects to the liability and monetary penalties that would fall to the retailer. This would also open the retailers up to litigation. This should be addressed on a national level by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) if the facts warrant it, and if not, leave it alone. The Delegate that introduced this Tire Aging Bill showed a 4 year old 20/20 television show segment as proof of a problem, no facts, and no data. We do not know the outcome of the bill yet, and the Senate version will be held March 14th
On March 1st, our Government Affairs Committee Chairman Mel Sherbet, MAPDA representative Pete Horrigan, and I testified on the 5 Cent Bill that a Delegate has tried to attach to our Below Cost Selling law. This bill basically said a retailer could not sell gasoline for more then 5 cents above what the gas cost. WE could not afford to let a bill like this slip under the radar and become law, and I think I can safely say this bill is dead.
March 6th HB1051 Tax on Services (includes labor on auto repair)
March 14th HB1302 and SB971 – Governor’s Sales Tax on Gas with Indexing (Senate AND House)
SB 940 Tire Aging Bill (Senate hearing)
Hearings not scheduled as of March 2, 2012:
HB1156 Motor fuel tax indexed to construction cost
HB1388 Motor fuel tax indexed to construction cost (different bill, but same premise)
SB 766 Motor Fuel Mass Transit Tax – Transit Funding
We are going to need your help, we will need a real presence in Annapolis, and I will be sending out emails to members as things progress. Hold on to your hats...we are in for a very bumpy ride!