Local Business Issues
The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce prides itself on having a proactive government affairs program. A portion of the annual dues goes to hiring a lobbyist to promote the Chambers positions and to keep abreast of important issues as they arise on the state level in Annapolis and on the local level in Rockville, the county seat. Through the efforts of the lobbyist and the Chambers active volunteers, the concerns of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase business community are heard and have impacted legislation on both local and the state levels.
In addition, the Chamber is a member of the Montgomery County Business Coalition--a group of county business organizations that band together to promote business issues.
The Chamber works with the countys Department of Economic Development in any way it can to promote the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area to attract new businesses to our community.
Local Legislative Issues
To date this year, the Montgomery County Council took the following action on bills of particular interest to the business community.
East West Transportation
The Montgomery County Council passed the resolution opposed to the Intercounty Connector (ICC). Councilmember Silverman, in particular and Councilmember Subin spoke against the resolution. Councilmember Krahnke opposed the resolution on a technicality. She had initially supported the measure.
Review of Impact Tax Law
Councilmember Praisner, Chair of the WP Committee, wrote a letter to the Chamber asking the Transportation and Land Use Committee for its comments concerning changes in the impact law countywide, which the Committee will be addressing over the summer. The Committee indicates this review will be conducted with elements of the County's Annual Growth Policy, the "Pay and Go" Program and other development related policies. Work sessions will begin in June and work through the summer.
Piggyback Tax/Cell Phone Tax Elimination/Proposed Tax Reduction
The Coalition gave testimony on April 20th in support of measures aimed at reducing the local portion of the state income tax, better known as the "piggyback tax," to 58% from the current 60%; eliminating the cellular phone tax; and reducing the property tax by 2.6 percent. All measures are in the County Executive's Budget. Four members of the Council (Leggett, Dacek, Krahnke, and Praisner) support the piggyback tax reduction; four members (Andrews, Berlage, Silverman, and Dacek) support the cell phone tax cut.
Property Tax - New Jobs Credit Extension
The NIFP Committee will be recommending adoption of Bill 4-99, which would extend the new jobs credit legislation.
The County Council will address the spending affordability guidelines on Tuesday, April 20th for the upcoming fiscal year. Reports indicate that for this coming fiscal year, the guideline adopted will be in the 7 percent range.
Ban on Smoking in Restaurants and Bars
The County Council passed this legislation with a vote of 5 to 4. The legislation is that all restaurants and bars within Montgomery County will be smoke free as of January 1, 2001. The National Smokers Alliance is seeking local plaintiffs for the lawsuits that will be filed next month concerning the Board of Health regulation banning smoking in bars and restaurants.