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Advocacy News - 2017 General Assembly Review


  • 103+ Legislative Session Bills In ASLA lobbying Portfolio

  • Opportunities

  • ASLA member involvment

  • Procurement

  • Grants (State Capital Grants & Agency CIPs)

  • Collaboration Partners (to name a few)

  • Maryland Council of Design Professions

  • State Agencies

  • Environmental & Historical Interests

Sales and Use Tax - Declaration of Legislative Intent - Services

Background Framing: In prior legislative sessions, ASLA defeated legislation which would have had the potential of extending the sales tax on services to landscaping services. The Comptroller Office’s could have utilized existing regulatory authority to interpret that landscape architectural services would fall under the term “landscaping services.”

There is currently one instance where a firm engaged in providing engineering services is disputing a sales and use tax assessment by the Comptroller’s Office. The dispute arose when the Comptroller judged certain services performed by the firm to be more like detective services, which are taxable, than engineering services, which are not taxable.

» » The enactment of SB 235 clarifies that the sales tax on taxable security services that are detective services is applicable to licensed detective services and prohibits the Comptroller from imposing the sales tax on detective services unless the service is provided by a person who is authorized, or required to be authorized, to provide private detective services under current law. This will have the effect of limiting the Comptroller’s regulatory authority and prevent applications of the sales tax on the design professions’ professional services. .

Pollinator Habitat Plans - Plan Contents - Requirements and Prohibition

Background Framing: A 2014 Presidential Memorandum created a federal strategy to promote the health of honeybees and other pollinators and issued to the heads of federal agencies. The memorandum cited the importance of pollinators to the U.S. economy and significant loss of those pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, over the past few decades. MDA indicates that honeybees pollinate crops valued at more than $40 million in Maryland alone.

Chapter 614 of 2016 (Pollinator Habitat) requires DNR, the Maryland Environmental Service, and the State Highway Administration to each establish a pollinator habitat plan that, among other things, must include best management practices for the maintenance, creation, enhancement, and restoration of pollinator habitats and must adhere to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) managed pollinator protection plan (The Maryland Pollinator Protection Plan, released in 2016).

» » HB 830 & SB 836 modify requirements applicable to the plans to (1) focus on pollinator habitat areas rather than pollinator habitats; (2) require that the plans “be as protective of pollinators as” MDA’s managed pollinator protection plan, rather than “adhere to” the plan; and (3) restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, pesticides labeled as toxic to bees or other pollinators, and seeds or plants treated with a neonicotinoid pesticide, in an area designated or created as a pollinator habitat area in accordance with a pollinator habitat plan.

Additional Select Bills – Representative Sampling (Not All Inclusive)

» » SJR 8 expresses the General Assembly’s opposition to proposed federal budget cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program and other federal programs that support the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, and urges the Governor to publicly oppose the proposed budget cuts.

» » HB 617 & SB 29 clarify that local forest conservation programs may include afforestation (establishment of forested area on development tracts where there is little or none) and reforestation (establishment of forested area to offset cleared forest) requirements that are more stringent than the minimum requirements under FCA.

» » HB 1045 requires MDE to propose regulations by January 1, 2019, that encourage the use of MBR or other treatment technologies in septic systems for nonresidential uses that meet existing guidelines for the use of reclaimed water and are more effective than the best available technology for removal of nitrogen approved by MDE.

» » HB 171 & SB 99 require MDE to study and make recommendations regarding the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials from refuse disposal facilities in the State, including ways to encourage investment in infrastructure and expand capacity for yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials diversion.

» » HB 1062 Firm Permits - Repeal, was defeated and would have repealed the requirement that engineering firms and land surveying firms obtain a firm permit to operate in the State from the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR). Related provisions are also repealed. A licensee of either board who practices the related profession through a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company must be an employee, an owner, a director, an officer, a member, or a partner, as applicable, of the business entity through which the profession is practiced.

» » HB 283 Procurement - Prohibitions on Participation - An individual who assists an Executive Branch procurement unit in drafting specifications, an IFB, or an RFP for a procurement, or who assists in the selection or award made in response to an IFB or RFP, may not submit a bid or proposal for that procurement or assist or represent another person, directly or indirectly, who is submitting a bid or proposal for the procurement. Likewise, a person that employs the individual who provides such assistance may not submit a bid or proposal or assist or represent another

» » HB 426 Promoting Efficiencies in State Procurement - This Administration bill (1) alters the process for the procurement of architectural and engineering (A&E) contracts valued at more than $200,000; (2) repeals the statutory preference for the use of competitive sealed bids in State procurement; (3) expands authority for master contracting; (4) raises the small procurement threshold; (5) raises the maximum threshold for payment security for construction contracts entered into by a public body in the State; (6) requires the Maryland Higher Education (MHEC) to conduct a study on the publication of bid solicitations; and (7) makes conforming changes and repeals obsolete provisions.

» » HB 138 & SB 6 Electronic Notification - now authorizes – but does not require – specified boards, commissions, and other regulatory entities within the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR); the Department of State Police (DSP); and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) to send specified credential-related notices electronically instead of by regular mail. Before any regulatory entity specified in the bill may electronically transmit a communication, it must notify the recipient by mail of the pending change from physical to electronic mail and request confirmation of the recipient’s email address.

» » HB 1571 & SB 46 -Maryland Nonprofit Development Center Program and Fund – Bridge Loans , renaming the Maryland Not-For-Profit Development Center as the Maryland Nonprofit Development Center and, beginning in fiscal 2021, require up to 5% of video lottery terminal (VLT) proceeds from the Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Businesses Account (SMWOBA), not to exceed $1 million annually, to be distributed to the Nonprofit Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) account within the Maryland Nonprofit Development Center Program Fund for bridge loans to nonprofit entities. (The Maryland Not-For-Profit Development Center Program is charged with assisting the economic growth and revitalization of nonprofit entities in the State by providing grants for training and technical assistance services.)

» » HB 1345 establishes the National Capital Strategic Economic Development Fund within the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide grants to government agencies and nonprofit community development organizations to assist in predevelopment activities for commercial and residential development (including site acquisition, land assembly, architecture and engineering, and site development) for revitalization in areas designated as sustainable communities.

» » HB 1325 prohibits a person from engaging in the hydraulic fracturing of a well for the exploration of oil or natural gas in the State. The statutory law now redefines “hydraulic fracturing” as the stimulation treatment performed on oil and natural gas wells in low permeability oil or natural gas reservoirs through which specially engineered fluids are pumped at high pressures and rates into the reservoir interval to be treated, causing fractures to open.

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