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House Republicans announce Suite of Business Relief Proposals

February 18th, 2021 by WCBC Radio

WBAL reports the Republican caucus in the Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday announced bills aimed at directing more relief to businesses hurting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our party is often criticized for caring too much about business and not enough about people," House Minority Leader Nic Kipke said in a statement. "But businesses are built by people, they are run by people, they create jobs for people. What impacts businesses impacts people and many Maryland businesses are struggling."

One of the bills would require each county health department to establish clearer guidelines on when, how and under what circumstances businesses can be inspected, cited or shuttered. It would require counties to set up an appeals process and an oversight board for decisions made by local health officers. At least one business owner would have to sit on each of the oversight boards.

"In some areas these health officers are doing a good job, while in others they're acting with impunity, often making arbitrary decisions that appear to be based more on politics than on science," said the bill's sponsor, Del. April Rose. "This is a tremendous amount of power in the hands of unelected and mostly unaccountable bureaucrats."

A second bill would shield small businesses, churches and other nonprofits from civil liability for unintentional health violations related to the pandemic.

"Right now, small businesses, churches, and non-profit entities doing their level best to comply with all state and local pandemic mandates are at risk of being bled dry if they have to defend against lawsuits for innocent and minor violations of these orders," Rose said.

The package would also expand tax relief already granted under the RELIEF Act, which was signed into law this week. One proposed bill would exempt any coronavirus-related retirement income distribution in 2020 or 2021 up to $100,000 exempt from state income tax.