May 2023 Policy Update: What our team is working on in Greater Washington region
WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING
The Board of Trade has spent the last month actively engaging in policy and advocacy efforts across the region. We met with Maryland’s Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld to discuss significant infrastructure projects impacting the region. This included projects such as construction of the Purple Line and the American Legion Bridge/I-270 traffic relief plan.
We also hosted a dinner with several of the region’s Chambers focusing on the impact newly passed legislation will have on economic development and what key issues the business community continues to face. The Board of Trade was excited to partner with MGM National Harbor to host a lunch with Prince George’s County Executive, and newly announced candidate for US Senate, Angela Alsobrooks. The County Executive shared her thoughts on the FBI HQ relocation efforts, transit-oriented developments, the Commander’s new ownership and its impact on the stadium location, the county’s budget, education spending, and crime.
Our work this May also included a webinar we hosted with police chiefs from Fairfax County, Prince George’s County, and Washington DC. The event covered various issues on public safety impacting the Greater Washington community, including violent and non-violent crime, the rise in carjackings, regional law enforcement collaboration, workforce issues and efforts to resolve them, along with the impacts of technology on policing.
With both Maryland and Virginia having concluded their legislative sessions, much of the focus in the region for our Policy & Advocacy team has been in DC, where its council is currently at the tail end of its budget process. It has been a difficult budget season for DC, as federal dollars from the pandemic dry up and revenues continue to shrink.
Ensuring that Downtown DC comes back stronger than ever is crucial to the future success of the city, which is why the Board of Trade focused on advocacy efforts pertaining to the 2024 DC Budget. Joining several like-minded organizations, we advocated for the removal of the proposed $2 congestion fee for rideshares serving downtown, the delayed implementation of the Building Energy Improvement Standards (BEPS), and the delayed implementation of the Parking Benefit Equivalent. Last week, DC Council took its first of two votes on the budget, which we were pleased to see included a reduced congestion fee ($.25) and delayed implementation of both BEPS and the Parking Benefit Equivalent. Unfortunately, the council decided to pull the majority of capital funding dedicated to the K Street Transitway and repurpose it for other initiatives. Considering the likelihood of continued budget issues next year, finding $100+ million in funding for K Street may prove difficult.
In Maryland, Governor Wes Moore has been busy with bill signings. While there was speculation that he could become the first Maryland Governor in more than 100 years not to veto a single piece of legislation, he issued his first veto along with allowing 10 pieces of legislation to become law without his signature, in his final acts pertaining to this year’s session. Of his three vetoes, two were related to legislation that already passed in another form and the third was a bill impacting the process of awarding commuter bus contracts that was passed over objection from the Maryland Transportation Administration.
Virginia received welcoming news in the form of April’s revenue projections. Year-to-date general fund revenues remain ahead of the updated December 2022 forecast by roughly $500 million – as April revenues declined less than expected projections. This is particularly significant as potential for a special session remains to determine what to do with the Commonwealth’s multibillion-dollar surplus. Several legislators wanted to see updated projections prior to deciding where the surplus should go. With the better-than-expected revenue projections, Governor Youngkin and House Republicans will continue to push for tax relief.