The Maryland General Assembly has crossed the midpoint of its 2023 session. After a somewhat slow start, by the 41st day of the 90-day session, more than 2,200 bills had been introduced many with important implications for commercial real estate. A select list of bills that are a high priority for NAIOP Maryland’s Legislative Committee runs the spectrum from land development to construction and asset management.
Construction and Energy Codes
SB0477 – Residential Construction or Significant Renovation – Electric Vehicle Charging – Requires the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new multifamily construction and at major renovations.
HB1134 – Maryland Building Performance Standards – Fossil Fuel Use and Electric–Ready Standards – Bans the use of combustion equipment in new construction less than seven stories beginning in 2025 and higher than seven stories in 2027.
Environment and Natural Resources
SB0471 / HB0607 – Water Pollution Control – Discharge Permits – Stormwater Associated With Construction Activity – Requires an individual permit for a broad range of common construction activities. Adds zero discharge requirement to obligations of the permit holder.
SB0250 / HB0147 – Environment – Climate Crisis Plan – Requirement – Requires local governments to adopt their own climate crisis plans. No requirement that local government use the definitions, means and methods set out in state law for the state’s climate plan or meet the economic benefits test in state law.
HB0723 / SB0526 – Natural Resources – Forest Preservation and Retention – Broadens the definition of Priority Forest in the Forest Conservation Act, requires a variance to clear Priority Forest and increases replanting requirements to as high at six acres planted for one removed.
HB1209 – Environment – Flood Control – Flood Risk Assessment and Model Ordinance (Climate Ready Floodplain Act of 2023) – Requires state and local governments to map and regulate activities in the 100-year and 500-year floodplains.
SB0470 / HB0631 – Natural Resources – Land Conservation – Establishment of Goals and Programs (Maryland the Beautiful Act) – Directs the Smart Growth Subcabinet to develop a plan to place 30% of land in the state under a conservation easement by 2030 and 40% of land in the state under conservation easement by 2040. Creates a Land Trust revolving loan fund seeded with $10 million in the governor’s 2025 budget to enable rapid land purchases.
Land Use and Transportation
SB0294 – Comprehensive Plan – Implementation and Review in Priority Funding Areas – Changes the definition of master plan consistency that must be met by special exceptions to zoning and other land use regulations approved by local governments. These changes result in the standard of review reverting to an expanded checklist that includes density and intensity threatening the function of mixed-use and other innovative zoning techniques.
Leasing and Asset Management
SB0549 / HB0552 – Economic Development – Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program and Fund (Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act of 2023) – Creates a grant program in the Department of Commerce to provide funding for infrastructure projects that support innovative technologies. Infrastructure projects supporting aerospace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, life sciences, robotics and defense are among the eligible innovation sectors. Examples of eligible infrastructure projects include building out secure information facilities, wet laboratories, cyber ranges and other specialized research-related facilities.
SB0224 / HB0230 – Department of the Environment – Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Regulations (Clean Trucks Act of 2023) – Adopts the California zero emissions sales quotas for heavy-duty vehicles. Includes extensive feasibility study and mechanism to delay implementation.
HB0347 – Attorney General – Climate Change Actions – Authorization – Authorizes the attorney general to sue publicly traded companies for tortious or otherwise unlawful conduct that has contributed to climate change. Allows AG to hire outside counsel on a contingency basis. Applies to companies with market capitalization of $1 billion or more.
SB0819 – Real Property – Sale of Apartment Facilities – Rights of Qualified Organizations – Requires owners of apartment buildings to complete an offer of first refusal process allowing nonprofit and government housing providers to make purchase offers.
HB1220 – Commercial Leases – Force Majeure Clauses – Requires that commercial leases contain clauses that relieve the parties from performing their obligations when a health or public safety emergency has been declared.
Taxes and Fees
SB0476 / HB0371 – Recordation Tax – Indemnity Mortgage Exemption – Threshold Amount – Increases the value of indemnity mortgages that are exempt from the recordation tax from $3 million to $15 million.
HB0231 – Baltimore City – Property Taxes – Authority to Set Special Rates – Authorizes the Baltimore City council to create different real estate property tax rates based on building type.