2020 Maryland General Assembly Update Week Three-Small Business, Tax, Relief, and Balloons!

New Senate President Bill Ferguson is keeping the Maryland Senate on track as legislation already has begun to clear the full Senate. This includes the aircraft equipment tax exemption bill and legislation to allow therapy dogs in child court proceedings. This week, Senator Mary Beth Carozza focused on small business relief, common sense environmental legislation, and visits with Eastern Shore locals.


Two of Senator Mary Beth Carozza’s small business initiatives were included as part of a bipartisan Senate Small Business Workgroup package that was presented to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday in Annapolis.

As a member of the Senate Workgroup and after meeting with the Ocean City and Salisbury Chambers of Commerce over the summer, Carozza worked to include an expansion of the agricultural exemption in the minimum wage law to include farmers markets and produce stands, and to strengthen the verification process of paid sick leave used by seasonal employees, in the package unveiled earlier this week.

“My bipartisan legislation would allow seasonal employers to require that an employee used sick leave appropriately during the period between 107 and 120 days,” Senator Carozza said when speaking about her additions to the legislative package, noting that the current verification provision has had little to no use to most seasonal employers since it allows for an employee to agree to the verification at the time of hire.

Senator Carozza also has introduced legislation with Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr. (Calvert County) to expand the agricultural exemption under the current minimum wage mandate to farmers markets and produce stands.

“After meeting with members of our local Chambers of Commerce and farm bureaus over the summer, it became clear that we needed to take action to clarify that the current agricultural exemption in the minimum wage law covers farmers markets and produce stands,” said Senator Carozza. “I am thrilled that Senate President Emeritus Miller has agreed to work with me on this legislation to clarify that the current exemption in the minimum wage law includes agricultural stands.”


Senate Bill 28, which prohibits the release of balloons into the atmosphere, was heard in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on January 23. Senator Carozza is the lead Republican cosponsor and testified in strong support of Senate Bill 28, which is sponsored by Senator Clarence Lam (Howard and Baltimore County). Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kerrie Jones Bunting traveled to Annapolis to testify in strong support of the balloon release prohibition bill.

“As I made my constituent rounds and held listening hours throughout my district, many constituents have expressed their concern for birds and sea and other wildlife that have been killed by mistaking balloons for food, or balloon entanglements causing injury to our wildlife,” Senator Carozza said. “We even have local cases of our beloved Assateague ponies harmed by balloon releases. I am proud to support this common sense environmental protection legislation.”

There was no opposition to Senate Bill 28 during the Committee hearing, and the legislation has local support from the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, the Surfrider Foundation, and Assateague Coastal Trust. Delegate Wayne Hartman has sponsored the same bill in the House of Delegates.


Senate bills are beginning to make their way to the full Senate for votes, including ones cosponsored by Senator Carozza. Senate Bill 121, which would exempt the sales and use tax on aircraft maintenance equipment, passed the Senate by a vote of 43-0. This legislation was championed by Senator Adelaide Eckardt (Dorchester County) and cosponsored by Senator Carozza and will be a job creator and economic driver for the entire State of Maryland. Salisbury Regional Airport Manager Dawn Veatch has testified to the strong economic and job growth benefits with passage of the aircraft equipment tax exemption.

Senate Bill 101 would establish the Court Dog and Child Witness program in the Circuit Court of each county, providing therapy dogs to child witnesses. This legislation is supported by the CRICKET Center in Worcester County and Executive Director Wendy Myers, Board of Directors President Monica Martin, and therapy dog Josiah traveled to Annapolis to testify in support of Senate Bill 101.



Senator Carozza met with several Shore visitors this week including: John Knorr, EVO of Salisbury; Renee Seiden of Real Hospitality, Ocean City; Steve Phillips, Phillips Seafood; Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan; Salisbury Mayor Jacob Day; Pocomoke City Mayor Bruce Morrison and Council Member Esther Troast; Princess Anne Town Commission President Garland Hayward; Lower Eastern Shore Heritage Areas Executive Director Lisa Ludwig; Delmarva Poultry Industry Executive Director Holly Porter; Perdue Farms General Counsel Herb Frerichs; Shore Transit Director Brad Bellacicco and Maintenance Manager Bruce Richardson; Worcester County Commission on Aging Executive Director Robert Hart; Darlene Taylor and Jalissa Worthy from It Takes a Village in Crisfield; Wicomico County Partnership for Families and Children Director Michelle Bradley from Hebron; Republican Women of Worcester County member Carol Frazier from Berlin; Ocean Downs Casino Director of Finance John Derby; Ocean Downs Racetrack Director of Racing Peter Szymanski; District 38 Registers of Wills Terri Delaney-Westcott (Worcester), Karen Lemon (Wicomico), and Keith Ward (Somerset); CPAs Denise West of Salisbury and Herbert Geary from Salisbury; Senate Page Daniel Davis from Salisbury; Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kerrie Jones Bunting of Ocean Pines and her son, Kyle; Senate Page Craig Birckhead-Morton from Snow Hill; District 38 Teachers of the Year Christina South (Somerset),Gina Russell (Worcester), and Shane Morton (Wicomico); and Donald Hawkins from Berlin; Bill Chambers, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce: Melanie Pursel and Sal Fasano, Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce; and Somerset County Commissioner and Choptank Electric Board Cooperative Board member Craig Mathies. 



Snow Hill High School Senior Craig Birckhead-Morton served as a Senate Page in Annapolis this week.



Senator Carozza introducing legislation to provide relief to small businesses.


(l to r): Somerset County Teacher of the Year Christina South; Senator Mary Beth Carozza; Worcester County Teacher of the Year Gina Russell; and Wicomico County Teacher of the Year Shane Morton.




Testifying in strong support of legislation to prohibit the release of balloons into the atmosphere (l to r): Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kerrie Jones Bunting; Senator Mary Beth Carozza; Senator Clarence Lam (Howard and Baltimore County); Senator Steve Hershey (Queen Anne’s County); Queen Anne’s Conservation Association Executive Director Jay Falstad; and Kyle Bunting.


Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate