We’re headed back to Annapolis for this week’s episode, where Maryland’s General Assembly recently put a bow on its 2019 legislative session. It was another busy one, including some CPA-related legislation that will impact accounting and finance professionals, not just here in Maryland but throughout the country.
Legislative advocacy, according to our members, is the most important thing that the MACPA does for them, and our president and CEO, Tom Hood, takes that role very seriously. So, today we talk to Tom about what went down in Annapolis and how it is likely to impact our profession.
In this conversation, we cover:
- Extending CPA licensure mobility to firm mobility (and the inverse: some states’ attempt to eliminate licensing for many professions).
- Deregulatory risk this year and next.
- The six employment laws we were concerned about.
- What accounting and finance professionals can do to prepare for the coming year.
- The session is over, but the work continues.
Listen to my conversation with Tom here.
What’s been happening in Annapolis in 2019?
Things were crazy as usual this year in Annapolis — although not as crazy as 2018. Last year, lawmakers introduced 3,118 pieces of legislation over the 90-day session, a 30-year high for sheer number of bills introduced.
This year, that number was down to only 2,481 bills: 1,051 in the Senate and 1,430 in the House, 850 of which were passed during the session. So, that gives you an idea of the scope of the work that the MACPA’s legislative team and our team of legislative volunteers do each spring. It’s incredible.
Our team this year included our CEO, Tom Hood; our advocacy manager, Mary Beth Halpern; our lobbyists in Annapolis; and all of the members who testify to or meet with legislators. These volunteers are critical because they help bring our messages down to a human level, which helps legislators understand the impact of the work they do. All of these people have to scan all 2,481 bills and then figure out which ones will have the greatest impact on the profession, what our position of those bills should be, how we should respond, and who can help us respond. It’s a tireless job, and they all do amazing work.
And that’s just in Maryland. This kind of coordinated volunteer effort is happening in every state in the land — volunteers working to protect your profession, your business, and your clients. Legislation might not mean a whole lot to you on a day-to-day basis, but truthfully, few things are as important as the legislative work that state CPA societies do on behalf of your profession.
Now, back to Maryland.
One of the most significant bills passed this year was a gradual increase in the state’s minimum wage, from $10.10 an hour to $15 an hour. Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the measure, but the General Assembly overrode the veto, so the first increase will go into effect on Jan. 1, initially bringing the minimum wage to $11.
A number of environment-related bills appear to have the votes to become law, including one that would ban the use of foam packaging, and another that would require Maryland to get more of its electricity from renewable sources.
In education, lawmakers approved a two-year plan to send more than $800 million in additional funding to public schools.
But the big news toward the end of the legislative session was the death of House Speaker Mike Busch. Busch died on April 7 after being hospitalized with pneumonia at the age of 72. As a result, Gov. Hogan has called lawmakers back to Annapolis on May 1 for a special session in which they will elect a new House speaker. Busch was a powerful political figure in Maryland for years, and he had served as House speaker since 2003, so those will be some pretty big shoes to fill.
Legislation that affects the profession
There were also some legislative decisions that will directly impact our profession. Topping the list was CPA firm license mobility, which helps CPAs practice more effectively in Maryland and across state lines, but there were other victories as well:
- There were no efforts to impose sales taxes on professional services.
- No comparative fault legislation.
- No deregulatory risk to the CPA license in Maryland.
- And lots of other action in defense of the profession and the CPA license in Maryland.
- Learn more at MACPA.org/future-learning.
- Read “Legislative Report from the Maryland General Assembly, Sine Die.”