As legislative counsel for GBBR, we track all local and state legislation affecting anything related to property rights and real estate. Please see a breakdown below of both recent activity in Baltimore City and the State:
At the end of 2017 leading into 2018, Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry of the 4th District, introduced citywide legislation that would have had widespread industry implications. The proposed bill would have increased the recordation tax from $5 to $6 per $500, and raised the transfer tax from 1.5% to 1.75%. The proceeds would be put toward the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. At the onset of 2018, our Legislative committee is generally focused on statewide legislation because the Maryland General Assembly kicks off in early January. However, because this proposed piece of legislation had such a potential negative impact on our members and our members’ clients, it was crucial for GBBR to voice our opposition. Therefore, we met with the entire Baltimore City Council to lobby and educate them of the ramifications this bill will have on real estate and Baltimore City.
Our efforts were successful in defeating the above legislation. The bill never had a hearing; our message to City Hall was heard loud and clear. You may be wondering why I am bringing up an issue from early 2018 for a September 2018 legislative update. Fast forward a few months to April 2018. A new bill sponsored by Councilman John Bullock of the 9th District, proposes a surtax to the recordation tax of $2 for each $500 and an additional surtax of .6% to the transfer tax. However, this bill exempts owner-occupied residential property if the owner swears under oath that they will use it as their primary residence. The proceeds from this surtax will be devoted to the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Clearly, the City is desperately trying to invest in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The City understood the negative impact the initial bill would have had on increasing the City’s homeownership, especially with first time homebuyers. The City feels the April 2018 bill is a good compromise. A hearing is set for September 27th at 11:00 a.m. before the Taxation, Finance, and Economic Development Committee.
Although the new legislation is better for our members than the initial, it is imperative that City Hall keep us in the loop when contemplating legislation that has a large scale impact on our industry. Therefore, GBBR recently sent letters to the Mayor and the City Council President echoing about the importance of real estate for the future of Baltimore City.
The results of the 2018 April primaries shocked many of us. The 2019 legislative session will be much different than previous years. Three of the four Senate chairs were replaced. Many of the older generation Baltimore City senators were replaced by younger and progressive former delegates. The General Assembly will see a lot of new faces. The trend we are seeing at the state level appears to be for a younger and progressive legislative body.