Economic Development and Government Policy

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Vice President of Economic Development & Government Relations Group
Chris Ruhlen of Learch, Early & Brewer

(this group meets regularly on the Fourth Wednesday of each month)

March 18, 2015
March 25th is the next meeting date for both our Economic Development and Real Estate groups. More to come on their programs. Last month we had some great presentations on transportation from Jim Dinegar, Rich Parsons and Miti Figuredo on the Purple Line, Metro and transportation funding. At our Real Estate meeting focused on the Bethesda Fire Department’s development plans as well as starting planning for the Annual Real Estate Update on June 5th.

Local Legislation / Issues
At the local level, we have one success to report on and an update on the other:
** County Minimum Wage – Effective Dates – Based on our collective efforts with other area chambers, the County Council enacted legislation on March 3rd that mandates that the effective date change for minimum wage increase in Montgomery County. It will be moved to July 1, 2016 (rather than October 1, 2015).
** Earned Sick and Safe Leave – As the state legislation focusing on this issue will not be passed this year, we can count on the County Council to take it up and try to pass at the local level. Later this month, Ginanne will be meeting with the other chamber and AOBA execs to start developing our plans for negotiating on the details of the legislation.
** Bethesda Downtown Plan – Member of the Chamber’s “Bethesda Sector Plan Steering Committee” met with Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and his colleagues on February 24th to review and discuss the Chamber’s recommendations for the future of the Downtown Plan.

State Legislation / Issues
** Purple Line: On March 9th, the Chamber joined numerous organizations throughout the state at a Purple Line rally and at meetings with legislators in Annapolis regarding keeping the Purple Line on track. In total, there were more than 150 people who came out to meet with legislators and participated in a press event.
** Maryland General Assembly: Work is still underway in communicating with legislators about specific bills that affect our members. Currently there have been more than 2200 bills introduced. March 23rd is “Opposite Chamber Cross Over Date” when the narrowing down of bills that haven’t been withdrawn or voted “unfavorable” starts taking place.