It is no secret that that our national economy—as well as Maryland’s—has struggled mightily over the past few years.
As our nation and our state seek to rebound from the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the attention and energies of legislative leaders at all levels of government should be focused entirely on job growth and creation.
Accordingly, I have joined forces with a working group of fellow legislators with a focus to encourage Gov. O’Malley to hone in on efforts to grow our state’s business community.
Already our efforts are beginning to yield results, as the governor has taken input and suggestions from our working group and turned them into action.
One recent example: Gov. O’Malley recently signed an executive order known as “Maryland Made Easy,” which calls for a 60-day state review of current state regulations with the intent of changing and/or eliminating regulations in order to spur job creation. This window of input is open and I encourage anyone with suggestions to provide them to the Governor’s office for consideration.
In addition to Maryland Made Easy, there is also a newly designed “FastTrack Program” that is meant to expedite state review of qualifying business and development projects in an effort to promote economic expansion and job creation. Projects eligible for FastTrack must produce jobs, must require approval of one or more state permits, and should be located in areas deemed as revitalization or Priority Funding Areas.
Projects approved for FastTrack will have the benefit of a concurrent and coordinated review by all relevant state agencies for any necessary state permits, allowing for early identification and resolution of any potential issues in the development process. FastTrack projects will also be assigned a contact person to help guide them through the permit application process.
The Governor’s Executive Order that established the FastTrack program is substantially similar to House Bill 474, legislation I co-sponsored during the 2011 legislative session, entitled “Construction and Development Projects—Expedited Approval of State Permits.”
These new business initiatives are good first steps, but we need to keep looking to do more, especially in the areas of providing a skilled workforce and avoiding burdensome taxation. I am pushing both of these priorities not only in the legislature, but also as an newly-appointed member of the Task Force on Industrial Job Creation in Baltimore County.
Presently, we are working with state officials and county economic leaders to determine what we can do to promote specific policies that attract new industrial businesses and create jobs.
Should you care to provide your feedback about state regulations that should be altered or abolished, learn about Maryland’s FastTrack Program and see if your project might be eligible, or search a database that can simplify the process of figuring out which state permits apply to your business, visit the Maryland Made Easy website at http://easy.maryland.gov/wordpress/.