(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
There was much for the tech community to keep up with in the final hours of the 2015 Maryland legislative session, as legislators crafted a deal that paved the way for Uber and Lyft to be regulated across the state for the first time.
Now that the celebration has died down, let’s take a moment to look at the fate of three more bills that were of direct interest to the Baltimore tech community.
1. GIS Mapping Bill
The first formal recommendation from the newly-created Maryland Council on Open Data called on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would remove the state’s right to charge for GIS data. Legislators listened, passing Sen. Bill Ferguson’s measure, and sending it to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for signature.
The bill guarantees that most GIS data will be available for free. Records show that an amendment was inserted which gives certain entities permission to recover costs associated with the upkeep of a GIS system. The amendment caps what the entities can charge at $50, and reflects a proposal brought forward by the Maryland Association of Counties.
2. Angel Investor Tax Credit
- DID NOT PASS
Despite packing two hearing rooms with tech community members and top-priority status from the Greater Baltimore Committee, the General Assembly did not act on a proposed tax credit for angel investors. Neither committee charged with hearing the bill took a vote on the legislation. Proponents of Sen. Catherine Pugh’s bill, including GBC President Don Fry and Baltimore Angels co-chair Greg Cangialosi, indicated that the change of leadership in Annapolis made for a difficult climate to pass such incentives. Fewer bills were introduced, and the focus of the 90-day session was primarily on the state budget. Backers said they will look to reintroduce the legislation next year.
3. One Maryland Incubator Tax Credit
- DID NOT PASS
A piece of legislation that would have provided incentives for creating business incubators also failed to garner a vote in committee. The legislation would have added incubators to the projects eligible to receive funds from the One Maryland Tax Credit program, which provides incentives for development projects that create jobs. Proponents said they plan to reintroduce the proposal next year.
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