ABOUT THE MARYLAND TOURISM COALITION
MTC represents the interests of the tourism community across the state of Maryland with hotels, restaurants, retail locations, attractions, destination marketing organizations, and small businesses counted among our members. Our Legislative Committee, comprised of a cross section of members appointed by the Board of Directors, convenes regularly throughout the year to discuss and consider the potential impact of proposed legislation on the tourism community and to determine what, if any, action should be taken. MTC has a contracted lobbyist, Frank Boston III, to advise the organization and advocate on its behalf. MTC Executive Director Wini Roche is also a registered lobbyist. The MTC Legislative Committee has identified the following priorities for the 2017 General Assembly session.
MTC SUPPORTS PERFORMANCE-BASED TOURISM MARKETING FUNDING
- TO BUILD UPON POSITIVE TRENDS IN THE TOURISM SECTOR AND REMAIN COMPETITIVE WITH NEIGHBORING REGIONS, WE STRONGLY URGE THE GOVERNOR AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO INCREASE FUNDING TO THE MARYLAND TOURISM DEVELOPMENT BOARD (MTDB) ACCORDING TO PROVISIONS LAID OUT IN THE TOURISM PROMOTION ACT OF 2008.
The Maryland Tourism Development Board (MTDB) qualifies for an increase for FY2018 under the Tourism Promotion Act of 2008. This funding formula provides a quantitative, policy-backed way to report the impact visitor spending has on sales tax. Eight sales tax codes are tracked and multiplied by a tourism factor —the amount deemed attributable to visitor spending — by the Comptroller. The MTDB qualifies for additional funding if this tourism tax increment exceeds 3% of the tourism tax revenues from the previous year.
On September 22, 2016, the Comptroller’s Office reported $450.6 million collected in designated tax codes resulting in a 5.8% increase and yielding a qualifying tourism tax increment of $5.9 million.
MTC SUPPORTS A PRO-BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IN MARYLAND
- TO SUPPORT THE HUNDREDS OF BUSINESSES, MANY OF THEM SMALL AND FAMILY-OWNED, THAT MAKE UP MARYLAND’S TOURISM COMMUNITY, MTC DISCOURAGES ANY LEGISLATION THAT WOULD RESULT IN UNNECESSARY AND CUMBERSOME REGULATIONS ON EMPLOYERS.
Maryland’s tourism and hospitality industry sustains more than 140,000 jobs that pay nearly $5.5 billion in annual wages. For many young people, a seasonal or part-time job in tourism and hospitality is the first step toward a fulfilling and lucrative career. While MTC supports employee rights, the legislature should bear in mind that many of the measures currently under consideration, including paid sick leave and an increased in the minimum wage, do not necessarily apply equally to all Maryland employers, and could potentially place an inordinate amount of stress on the tourism and hospitality industry, impacting small businesses in particular. Measures such as these may also discourage new businesses from investing in Maryland.
Any action taken by the General Assembly related to employment regulations, including paid sick leave and minimum wage increases, should be enacted only after careful consideration of the legislation’s impact on the tourism community, and small businesses in particular, which employ thousands of seasonal and part-time workers.
MTC SUPPORTS A POST-LABOR DAY SCHOOL START FOR MARYLAND
- TO SUPPORT POSITIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THE TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY, MTC DISCOURAGES THE ENACTING OF ANY LEGISLATION THAT WOULD REVERSE GOVERNOR HOGAN’S EXECUTIVE ORDER REQUIRING SCHOOLS TO START AFTER LABOR DAY.
Governor Hogan’s executive order announced in August 2016 was based on exhaustive study and research that indicated early school starts negatively impact communities with tourism economies. In May 2014, a statewide task force, created through the passage of SB963 and appointed by Governor O’Malley, voted 12 to 3 to support a post-Labor Day start for Maryland schools. A poll of 708 residents released by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College found that 74% of those asked said they supported moving the start of school until after Labor Day. On August 15, 2013, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot released an Economic Impact report completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates announcing that a delayed school start in Maryland would result in an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and a separate $7.7 million in state and local revenue. Virginia, Michigan and North Carolina, our closest competitors, have enacted legislation to ensure that school calendars do not unnecessarily inhibit tourism. Michigan saw a 25% increase in tourism revenue by starting schools after Labor Day. New York, Minnesota, Iowa, and Alabama also have a mandated post-Labor Day school start. In Maryland, a post-Labor Day start for Maryland public schools can be implemented with minor adjustments to the current school calendars and can be done so without negatively impacting students. Research conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University proved that there is no correlation between test scores and schools that start after Labor Day.
Any action taken by the General Assembly to reverse the Governor’s order would result in a negative economic impact statewide and present an undue burden to school systems that have already begun taking steps to comply with the new scheduling requirements.