The Maryland General Assembly moved more than 700 bills before the 69th-day crossover deadline and has headed into the stretch run of the 2023 Session.
The crossover deadline serves as the cut-down date for legislation. By that date, the House and Senate need to pass bills in order for the opposite chamber to have enough time to consider them before the end of the 90-day session. Moving before the crossover deadline does not guarantee passage but it signals a strong intention. Failing to move before the deadline makes the pathway to final passage much more difficult.
As the General Assembly approaches sine die on April 10th, here is the status of several bills impacting commercial real estate.
Construction and Energy Codes
SB0477 / HB0830 – Residential Construction or Significant Renovation – Electric Vehicle Charging – As introduced, required the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new multifamily construction and at major renovations. The House bill passed before the crossover deadline, with industry-drafted amendments that removed multifamily renovations from the bill and set infrastructure installation requirements for new multifamily construction that were achievable.
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. Failed to pass the House before the crossover deadline.
Environment and Natural Resources
SB0471 / HB0607 – Water Pollution Control – Discharge Permits – Stormwater Associated With Construction Activity – As introduced, required an individual permit for a broad range of common construction activities. Added zero discharge requirement to obligations of the permit holder. The House and Senate passed the bills prior to the crossover deadlines with industry-supported amendments that remove the individual permit requirement in lieu of a longer notice and comment period for projects located in Tier II watersheds.
SB0250 / HB0147 – Environment – Climate Crisis Plan – Requirement – Required 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. Failed to pass before the crossover deadline.
HB0723 / SB0526 – Natural Resources – Forest Preservation and Retention – As introduced, broadened the definition of Priority Forest in the Forest Conservation Act, required a variance to clear Priority Forest and increased replanting requirements to as high at six acres planted for one removed. It would have eliminated the use of forest mitigation banks. The bills failed to pass before the crossover deadlines, but the House and Senate have agreed to a series of compromise amendments that reduce mitigation ratios, narrow the definition of forest, remove the expanded variance requirements and preserve the future use of mitigation banking.
HB1209 – Environment – Flood Control – Flood Risk Assessment and Model Ordinance (Climate Ready Floodplain Act of 2023) – As introduced, required state and local governments to map and regulate activities in the 100-year and 500-year floodplains. The bill failed to pass before the crossover deadline.
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. An amended version of the bill that removes annual funding, passed before the crossover deadline.
Land Use and Transportation
SB0294 – Comprehensive Plan – Implementation and Review in Priority Funding Areas – As introduced, changed 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 resulted 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. Failed to pass before the crossover deadline.
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, including infrastructure projects supporting aerospace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, life sciences, robotics and defense. Examples of eligible infrastructure projects include building out secure information facilities, wet laboratories, cyber ranges and other specialized research-related facilities. Both bills passed prior to the crossover deadline.
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. House and Senate bills have been amended to require studies of electric grid readiness, charging infrastructure needs and costs prior to adoption. The amended bill passed before the crossover deadline.
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. Failed to pass before the crossover deadline.
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. Failed to pass before the crossover deadline.
HB1220 – Commercial Leases – Force Majeure Clauses – As introduced, required commercial leases to contain clauses that relieve the parties from performing their obligations when a health or public safety emergency has been declared. Failed to pass before the crossover deadline.
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. The Senate passed a compromise version that increases the threshold for exemption to $12.5 million. Both bills are in the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB0231 – Baltimore City – Property Taxes – Authority to Set Special Rates – As introduced, authorized the Baltimore City council to create different real estate property tax rates based on building type. The bill passed out of the House with amendments to alter and narrow the scope of the authority to vacant and blighted property. The bill is currently in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.