Since news outlets usually focus on international and national matters, it’s easy for new legislation on the county level to receive less attention than it deserves. In 2016, Governor Larry Hogan signed 106 bills into law, three of which specifically affect Anne Arundel county government.
Senate Bill 47
Sponsored by Senator Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, Senate bill 47 is enabling legislation allowing Anne Arundel county government to grant property tax credits to “benefit” corporations and “benefit” limited liability companies (LLCs). In these cases, “benefit” refers to corporations legally obligated to provide some form of public service. Such corporations are for-profit entities, unlike non-profit organizations. The directors of a benefit corporation or benefit LLC must make decisions based not only on what is best for shareholders but how such decisions may affect the community or environment. Maryland was the first state to create benefit corporation designation in 2010. Since then, 32 other states and the District of Columbia have followed its example.
To obtain the property tax credit, the benefit corporation or benefit LLC in Anne Arundel County must be owned or leased for the benefit entity and used as a trade or business. Residential properties do not qualify. The county or municipality provides the tax credit amount, the duration of the credit – which cannot exceed 10 years – any additional eligibility for the credit and the regulations and procedures regarding the tax credit.
House Bill 366
Introduced by Delegate Michael Malone, R-Crofton, and sponsored by the delegation, House Bill 366 creates a tax break for the blind and authorizes Anne Arundel County to grant a credit of $15,000 of the assessed value of a home owned by a blind person. “Blind individual,” as per the bill, refers to impairment of both eyes resulting in central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective eyewear, or central visual acuity above 20/200 if the person has a field defect “in which the peripheral field has contracted so that the widest diameter of visual field …is no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.”
The original bill gave the property tax credit to surviving spouses of blind individuals, but the final bill signed by the Governor does not include widows or widowers.
House Bill 642
House Bill 642 allows holders of deluxe, Class BLX restaurant beer, wine, and liquor licenses to apply for permits to offer live music, dancing and outdoor entertainment, along with table service at their establishments. The bill also exempts certain alcoholic beverage licenses in Anne Arundel County from the prohibition against issuing multiple beer and wine licenses to any one individual. Previously, one person could not hold more than two beer and wine licenses. Under the new law, a person can hold up to five such licenses. Class BLX restaurant beer, wine, and liquor licenses are no longer included in the prohibition of issuance from a certain distance from a school or house of worship. The bill also permits a restaurant license holder to receive a second or third alcoholic beverage license if the restaurant is located in a shopping center with certain zoning classifications. Such shopping centers must contain at least 1 million square feet with a location within the county’s Mixed Use Development -C General Commercial zones.