BY LISA MAY Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Maryland REALTORS Need a quick overview of the General Assembly and how it impacts you? Want a refresher on those acronyms your lobbyists are always using? This article is for you: The Session The Maryland General Assembly meets for 90 calendar days each year, beginning the second Wednesday in January and concluding in early April. At the beginning of Session, most work is conducted between Monday afternoon and Friday morning. However, as the session wears on, meetings and hearings stretch from early morning to late evening – including the weekend – to finish the business of the legislature. The Process Members of the General Assembly introduce bills by their own initiative, on behalf of the Administration, or at the request of a constituent or group, like Maryland REALTORS®! Bills then proceed through a maze of committees (and House subcommittees), readings, and floor votes before reaching the Governor’s desk for passage. Read more about this process here: The Legislative Process (maryland.gov). The Committees to Watch While all General Assembly Committees discuss matters of importance to the state, there are those which deal with the real estate industry more than others. In the House, those are the Environment and Transportation (E&T) and the Economic Matters (ECM) Committees. E&T hears housing, common ownership community, and property management related legislation. Those bills will flow through two subcommittees: Housing and Real Property, and Land Use and Ethics. ECM hears bills related to real estate licensing and business operations. REALTOR® legislation most often goes to their Business Regulation subcommittee, though the Insurance and Banking subcommittees may also come into play. A third Committee, Ways and Means, hears most property tax credit legislation. Over in the Senate, the Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee (EEE or “Triple E”) is the destination for housing and land use issues, along with professional licensing bills. For matters related to landlord-tenant issues and contracts, Judicial Proceedings (JPR) is the place to be—and you may be there for a while! JPR is known for its long-running meetings and in-depth debate in tackling the most controversial issues introduced in recent years. Finally, the Budget and Taxation Committee (B&T) decides funding levels for property and income tax exemptions, rental subsidies, and assessment calculations. The Issues Each year, the General Assembly considers 2,500 pieces of legislation and the state’s capital and operating budgets. These issues won’t have the news coverage of national issues or the immediacy of local ones, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t of importance to you and your clients. Around 200 bills each year impact real estate or homeownership in some way. They can range from the monumental— a sales tax on commissions, increasing housing supply, raising transfer taxes, or statewide rent control—to the mundane, like property tax credits and ground rents. Of course, there’s also the chance for something out of left field, such as requiring real estate agents to register their clients to vote or mandating the use of plexiglass to cover windows in vacant buildings. These are in addition to the measures sought each year by Maryland REALTORS®, which are summarized in this issue. The Bottom Line The actions of the General Assembly can boost—or hinder— the real estate industry. It’s our job to influence passage of positive bills while keeping harmful ones at bay. In both instances, the constant presence of Maryland REALTORS® in Annapolis keeps your views front and center when the legislature sets their sights on real estate. Read more about the upcoming Legislative session here.