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Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber unveils legislative agenda

The six areas are: over-regulation, job growth, a competitive tax structure, affordable health insurance, transportation funding and infrastructure investment, and workforce development and education

January 09, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | Kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce will focus on six core areas that affect the local business community as part of its agenda for the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session.

The six areas are: over-regulation, job growth, a competitive tax structure, affordable health insurance, transportation funding and infrastructure investment, and workforce development and education.

The chamber unveiled the agenda this week, to time with the opening of the 2013 legislative session in Maryland.

Brien Poffenberger, president of the chamber, said that his organization had looked at a whole spectrum of issues and “isolated half-a-dozen issues of importance.”

Poffenberger said that the agenda will help guide the chamber as legislation is introduced in Annapolis.

“It is important we speak as a single community,” Poffenberger said.

“The Chamber urges the General Assembly to avoid unnecessary regulations in the market or workplace and to balance the needs and obligations of employers and employees in enacting workplace-related laws,” said a press release from the chamber Tuesday.

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John Latimer, the chair of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, said in the press release that the agenda was a response to feedback from the members.

“The policy makers who pass laws affecting our businesses need to hear from us,” Latimer said, “and this agenda is part of the process to make that happen.”

Among the key issues that the chamber wants to focus on are:

  • Market-driven affordable healthcare for all;
  • Supporting incentives that create businesses leading to job growth;
  • Create a federal funding model to support long term transportation needs;
  • Take a position on tax issues and state spending related to businesses.

In December, at a pre-legislative meeting in Hagerstown, chamber officials were criticized by some members of the Washington County legislative delegation. At that meeting, some legislators asked for more cooperation from chamber officials.

On Wednesday, Del. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, the chair of the county delegation, said that he agreed with the tone and tenor of the agenda.

“We have had conversations with the leadership of the chamber. There has been a commitment from both groups,” Serafini said, adding that it was important that the two groups work together.

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