MHC Legislative Update

Regular readers of this column probably know that MHC’s Government Relations Committee spends a lot of time during the legislative session reviewing bills that have been introduced in Annapolis, flagging ones of interest or concern, and preparing and delivering testimony at bill hearings.

But effective advocacy is more than just reading and responding to legislation during the Session. Effective advocacy also involves building relationships and trust with individual legislators over the years. This latter point was borne out in February when a bill (HB 640/SB 869) was introduced that was intended to address a concern that buildings used for “value-added agriculture” (think winery and brewery tasting rooms, etc.) were being wrongly classified as “commercial” rather than “agricultural” for purposes of property tax assessments. The bill included buildings used for equine activities on the list of “value added agricultural” buildings. (Good) But – it prescribed that, while most buildings used in value added ag would be assessed at 25% of their full cash value, indoor riding arenas would be assessed at 50% of their full cash value. (Bad) We immediately contacted the bill’s sponsors and asked for an explanation of this discriminatory treatment. As a result, they quickly agreed to reduce the assessment rate on indoor arenas to 25%, in line with other value added ag buildings. As of this writing, the hearings on these bills have been canceled and have not been re-scheduled. The fact that we have worked so hard over the years to build relationships and a reputation as honest and trustworthy advocates . . .

Continue reading in this month’s Government Relations column.

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