Joint Legislative Agenda Focuses On Business Development


ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 25, 2014)—Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch announced their joint legislative agenda on Friday, which focused on promoting economic and business development.

The package includes legislation to assist universities and their surrounding communities with tax credits and endowments, a seed fund for cybersecurity start-ups and a reformation of the estate tax.

“This is a proposition to move our state forward in the area of creating a better business climate and taking advantage of an innovative economy, such as cybersecurity,” Busch said.

For any money universities receive from the private sector for research, the state will provide matching funds.

“This is a package of bills that, when coupled with the strength of our academic institutions, is going to make Maryland the global leader in the innovation economy,” said Brit Kirwan, chancellor for the University System of Maryland.

When fully rolled out, the public and private funds would make $100 million available for endowed professorships and chairs, said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh.

One proposal would give tax credits to universities, along with their surrounding communities, in order to support economic development.

Another measure would set up a fund to invest in private cybersecurity start-ups. The fund would be financed by private investors who would receive tax credits in return for their contribution, according to a press release.

Also this session, lawmakers will examine estate taxes.

“We’re going to propose a reformation of the estate tax laws,” Miller said. “It will not be eliminated.”

Busch announced at the press conference that a commission to review the economic and business climate would be launched as soon as its members were appointed.

“[The commission] will initiate and look at all the economic development tools that we have all,” Busch said. “All the programs, all the taxes used, all the initiation that we can take and put together.”

The commission would produce a report that would be presented to the governor and the General Assembly next year and would include suggestions on how to create a better business environment in Maryland, Busch said.

The proposed commission would be led by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, and would also have members from the university system and two members from both the Maryland House and Senate.

This is the first time the two had jointly proposed a legislative package, Miller said.

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