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  • 10/10/2017 1:39 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)

    If you’re reading this letter, you are likely to be a small business owner or work for a small business.  It is likely that you joined SCBA to help your business, and that’s good.    That’s one step toward making your business grow.  All of us want to do what we can to help our business.

    Are you registered to vote?   Are your employees registered to vote?   Keep in mind that the people who make the laws that affect your business have to get elected to be able to pass these laws.  

    I’ve heard so many people over the years say that their one vote won’t make a difference.   So how can you make your vote count the most?  I have a suggestion.

    Before going further, let me say that I am a member of the Republican Central Committee of Carroll County.   If you go to the local fire department carnivals you may have seen me working the voter registration booth.   That experience has actually allowed me access to a number of unregistered voters. 

    The majority of new voters we sign up are students just coming of age to vote.   I give them the card.  When they hand it back, the overwhelming majority of them fill in “unaffiliated.”   At that point I ask them to sit down and we have a talk.  I ask them why they don’t want their vote to count.  They seem shocked.   Here are some points to be made

    ·         Unaffiliated (a.k.a.  independent) voters, in a primary election, can only vote for school board.

    ·         Unaffiliated voters can’t vote in local OR national Democratic OR Republican primaries as primaries are only reserved for voters who are registered as members of that party.  If you are a registered member of the Green Party, for example, you can only vote for Green Party candidates in primaries, on both the national & local level – and that’s, of course, only if there are any!  This rule applies to all party affiliations.

    ·         In many primary elections, particularly local ones, the eventual winner is determined.

    o        In Carroll County, no Democrat has been elected in this century, for any office except school board.

    o        In Baltimore City, Theodore R. McKeldin was the last Republican elected as mayor,  and that was in 1963, 54 years ago.

    o        There are some jurisdictions that go back and forth between parties, but some jurisdictions typically vote solidly one way or the other with long standing regularity.  For example, Carroll County is known for its strong Republican voter base and Baltimore City is known for typically electing Democratic candidates.

    My point is that, if you want your vote to count, and live in a jurisdiction that goes with the same party election after election after election, in order for your vote to affect the outcome, it is worth carefully thinking about whether it is in your best interests to register with the party that usually wins in that jurisdiction.  This may be especially meaningful if it is common for that district to ONLY have candidates from the leading party.  It does not mean that you agree with the national party line – although it will mean that you will only be able to vote in your registered party’s national or local primaries.   But this method may give you an opportunity to make your vote count on the local level.

  • 09/10/2017 4:38 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)
    Democracy or Republic

    I can’t help but notice, on TV and in the papers, how often the United States is referred to as a Democracy, rather than a Republic.  

    On August 9th, on the Wall Street Journal editorial page (A 14), Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, Washington, wrote a letter entitled “School Vouchers Diminish Public Education.”

    A few excerpts from the submission include the following :

    1)      Regarding your editorial:  Randi Weingarten’s “Racism Rant” (July 24) Public education is, and has always been, foundational to our democracy.

    2)       ……………while also detailing the threats public schools and our democracy

    3)      Our collective response to that question will determine whether our democracy gets stronger

    Or comes apart

    This person is PRESIDENT of the American Federation of Teachers and in one letter referred to the United States, three times, as a Democracy instead of a Republic.    Is this what our kids are being taught?  If so, it has to stop.  

    I ask all of you with kids to ask them to name our form of government and see if they answer that it is a Democracy or a Republic.  It’s important, and they need to know the difference.  I pulled the following paragraph off the internet. These are not my words but are rather the words pulled from the internet.  See:  http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-democracy-and-republic/

    The main difference is that in the case of democracy the majority rules, whereas in a Republic the Government rules according to law.  Both of them are governed by constitution too.  In a republic the government rules according to the law prescribed by men of caliber.  In a democracy, MOBOCRACY prevails.   Mobocracy can be defined as political control by a mob. 

    Think of the last election.   We’ve all heard that Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes than Trump.  Trump won because he received more ELECTORAL COLLEGE votes.   Each state, based on population, receives a certain number of ELECTORAL votes.   Every state actually has a say.

    If we were a Democracy, politicians would spend ALL of their time in California, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois.     The population in these four  states, plus a small number from the other 46 states, would determine who is in power.

    Again, ask your school children the question.  If they answer DEMOCRACY, you need to spend some time teaching them from our Founding Papers.

  • 08/10/2017 3:35 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)

    SCBA letter for August, 2017

    Next time you see a grandfather’s clock, notice this.  For every TICK there is a TOCK.  In business, for every ACTION by   government  (the TICK) , there is a REACTION from business (the TOCK).

    The other night I saw a gathering of activists on TV and heard one gentlemen say,   “Every worker deserves a living wage.  We should raise the minimum wage to $ 15.00 an hour”.   I can assure you that this person never owned a business.

    The first minimum wage was in the late l950’s and was $ 1.00 per hour.  My father owned a neighborhood grocery store.   I remember working in the store and also remember some of the prices.   A loaf of bread was 10 cents.  A quart of milk was 21 cents.  A can of Campbell’s tomato soup was 15 cents. 

    I bought my first new car in 1964.  It was a beautiful Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible for which I paid a total of $ 3,250.00      A new convertible today would cost $ 40,000.

    When I got married, in 1969, my wife and I could go to MARS supermarket in Dundalk and buy a full bag of groceries for $ 15.00.   We rented a two bedroom apartment for $ 105.00 a month.

    My first house in Carroll County in 1969.  A 3 bedroom rancher with a full basement on Klee Mill Road,  for which  we  paid $ 19,500.00.   A couple of years ago it sold for almost $ 300,000.

    My 35,000 sq. ft. building on Venture Way, when I built it in 1983, costs $ 875,000, complete with finished offices.    The county says it’s now worth three times that.  I could go on; but you get the point.   

    One of my favorite sayings is "All plans are based on logic; all logic is based on assumption.  If the assumption is wrong, the plan will fail."

    The inescapable fact is that, when the federal  minimum wage goes up, the cost of you doing business goes up accordingly, and you have to raise your prices.   In the end, the worker does not benefit and the government has to raise the minimum wage again.

    TICK       TOCK     TICK       TOCK     TICK       TOCK

  • 07/02/2017 1:34 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)
    From Larry Helminiak, SCBA Board Member and Government Relations Chairperson

    July 2017

    I would guess that a high percentage of SCBA members vote.  At least, I would hope so.   I wonder how many voters actually understand exactly what determines what district we vote in, and why.  It’s called gerrymandering.

    All states, regardless of size, have two Senators who go to Washington.   In the House of Representatives, each state has a different number, from Montana with 1 to California with 53.   Why is that?  How are the 435 members assigned?

    Every 10 years, there is a national census.    Right now, the number of people living in the United States is about 330 million. The government takes the total number of people and divides it by the number of seats in the House of Representatives.     So we divide 330 million by 435 and come up with 758,620.  Each state will get  ONE Representative for every 758,620 residents.   Maryland, with 6 million residents,  has eight, for now, based on the 2010 census.    That could change after the  2020 census.

    The big question is “Who determines what district I live in?” One would assume that this is an easy question to answer; but it’s not.    Get familiar with the word “GERRYMANDERING.”    What does it mean and where did the word come from?

    In the 1880’s, there was a governor of Massachusetts named Elbridge Gerry.    After one census, he influenced the division of the districts assigned to Massachusetts by drawing a map.  Even though the number of PEOPLE for each district was correct, he split the state so that it would give the advantage to his party.   When you looked at the map of districts, some were SO distorted that they looked like a SALAMANDER.     Thus, Gerry   +   Salamander   =    Gerrymandering.  It simply means that the map is drawn to the advantage of a particular party as opposed to simply geography.

    Of the 435 districts in the United States today, Maryland is the SECOND WORST in Gerrymandering.   A case will soon go to the Supreme Court to see if it can be simplified, eliminating Gerrymandering as much as possible.

    Whomever is Governor in 2020 will supervise how districts are drawn in Maryland.  How you vote in 2018 will determine how those districts are drawn.  

  • 06/01/2017 1:34 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)
    Maryland Government Affairs Update for June 2017

    There are two new Maryland laws that directly affect local businesses that SCBA would like to draw your attention to for evaluation as to how they might affect your business.

    The “More Jobs For Marylanders Act” was signed into law by Governor Hogan this month. This Legislation takes effect on June 1st, 2017. The bill provides tax incentives to eligible manufacturers that are designed to create jobs and provide workforce development initiatives for existing employees. New manufacturers that open shop in high unemployment tier 1 counties which include Western Maryland, the Eastern shore, and Baltimore City, will receive a 5.75% wage tax credit, a state property credit, and sales and use tax credits for ten years. State filing fees are also waived for companies that create at least 5 new jobs. Existing manufacturers can qualify for the property tax credit.

    The second bill that was passed addresses paid sick leave. This legislation states that part-time employees who work at least 12 hours a week are eligible to receive up to 5 paid sick days per year, earning 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. All companies with 15 or more employees are required to provide this mandatory paid leave once the employee is on the payroll for 106 days. The “106 day” test was put in place to aid businesses, such as those in Ocean City, who routinely hire seasonal employees. Governor Larry Hogan has vetoed this bill as of the distribution of this newsletter. Governor Hogan has stated that he feels strongly that it will be an undue burden on the small businesses which it largely affects. He had proposed that only businesses with more than 50 employees on one site be affected by the measure but that was rejected by the largely Democratic governing body. Hogan had also wanted to offer tax credits to smaller businesses in order to give them incentives and financial help to implement the measure. That was rejected also with opponents stating that Hogan hadn't offered a way to pay for the tax cuts. This is a hot-button issue with concerns for the financial health of small businesses on one side and employee safety nets on the other. Supporters argue that many employees spend much of their lives on the brink of financial difficulties and that not being allowed to take paid sick leave for themselves or for dependent care is unreasonable. However, detractors of the bill are adamant that it is a very difficult burden for many businesses to bear, especially small businesses that employ as few as 15 people. In all, Governor Hogan's veto will delay its implementation until the General Assembly meets in 2018 and could process a veto override. The bill did pass the General Assembly with a veto-proof margin assuming that all those who voted for the bill would also vote to override a veto. So, stay tuned for this one – but if you are a business with more than 15 employees, SCBA would suggest that you review how this bill may affect your policies and procedures so you are ready to handle it when it officially becomes law.

  • 05/10/2017 1:32 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)
    Report for May Newsletter

    The legislative session in Annapolis is now over.    Following are some of the things that may or may have affected business owners.

    HB771 Public Health.     This bill streamlined and reduced the amount of effort a mobile food truck operator has to go through

    HB531 Labor and Employment – Labor Regulations – Right to Work.   29 states have enacted “right to Work” legislation.  This allows an employee to choose whether or not to join a union.  This bill failed .

    HB536 – Speed monitoring in Work Zones.     A bill to remove this failed.

    HB 100  Income Tax Subtraction Modification – Retirement Income of Law Enforcement, Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Personnel.    This bipartisan initiative gives tax relief to First Responders and Emergency Response Personnel.  The first $ 15,000 of retirement income for first responders and emergency personnel who are at least 55 years old will not be subject to state tax.

    Paid Sick Leave   The General Assembly pushed forward with HB-1 Labor and Employment Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.  This legislation mandates up to 40 hours of “sick and safe” leave for employees who work for businesses with 15 or more employees.  In addition, HB 1 carries heavy fines for non-compliance.  This bill requires paid sick leave for part-time employees who work as little as 8 hours per week, and it does not exclude temporary seasonal employees. These provisions would allow a teenager working after school, as well as summer workers in Ocean City to qualify for paid sick leave.

    The greatest concern regarding this bill are the employees that could lose their “paid time off.  Many employees get PTO that can be used for any situation, illness, vacation, etc.  With the state requiring mandatory sick leave, employees may lose their flexible PTO as it is reclassified and can only be used for “sick leave.” 

    SB 317  -  More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017.   Is Governor’ Hogan’s jobs initiative that will spur job growth by providing tax incentives for new and existing manufacturers to hire more employees.  The bill targets jurisdictions across Maryland while giving priority to areas where job growth is not keeping pace with the rest of the state. These new business entities are required to offer job skill training programs or educational programs in order to foster a pipeline of potential workers.  The More Jobs for  Marylanders Act of 2017 will provide increase employment opportunities for areas across the state that need it most. 

    SB 307 Roadkill Repeal  During the 2016 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed a highly-partisan bill that meddled in Maryland’s transportation policy.  “Fixing” a problem that did not exist, the bill manipulated the process by which major transportation projects were funded and skewed the preference towards funding mass transit projects in urban areas.  Earning the name “The Road Kill Bill”, the legislation’s scoring system would kill all but 7 of the 73 major priority transportation projects in the state, with  the vast majority of all funding going to Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.  Governor Hogan made the repeal of this bill his # 1 priority in the 2017 session.  A compromise was reached in the Senate and the bill was amended to delay implementation of the bill while a workgroup of legislators and transportation officials study and issue a report regarding the scoring system.  This bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

     

  • 03/01/2017 10:04 AM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)

    SCBA Government Relations Letter – March 2017 

    This letter will be brief.

    The Legislature is in session, and Delegates and Senators HATE to go home without creating new laws.

    If you don’t receive regular updates from your own representative, I suggest you get in touch with them and ask to be placed on their email list.

    Brian Frosh, the state’s Attorney General, was given the right to sue the federal government without going through the Governor first.   Until now, the Governor had the ultimate power to do this.

    Governor Hogan and Lieutenant Governor Rutherford welcome you to the  Vacancies and Potential Seats Report for Maryland state boards and commissions.   The openings are available on line for the first time.

    YOU could serve on a state board or commission.   There is NO PAY for most; but your input, being an experienced person in business, is valued and valuable.

    The Vacancies and Potential Seats Report will provide the following information:

    Seats that are currently vacant;

    Terms that are soon to expire, within one year from the run date of this report; and

    Terms that have expired, but still have members serving in a holdover status.

    Candidates may apply for any board or commission at any time, but priority attention is paid to vacancies and seats that are soon to expire.

    Check it out!

    Sincerely,

    Larry Helminiak

    Government Relations, SCBA

     

  • 02/07/2017 8:57 AM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)
    Larry’s Letter for February

    By

    Larry Helminiak

    The Maryland General Assembly is in session.    If this is like any other year, nearly 3,000 bills will be submitted for consideration.  Most will not make it out of committee but many will become law.

    With a new president in office who is from the business community, expect many laws, such as those dedicated to regulating business, to be changed or eliminated.

    Last month, I suggested that every business owner join their particular trade associations.   This month, I suggest that you actually talk to your Maryland legislators to get an idea of what’s coming down (or up) from Annapolis that will affect your business.

    But how can I talk to my Senator or Delegate?  Where do I go?   Glad you asked.

    The Republican Central Committee of Carroll County holds an annual breakfast and invites all the elected officials who represent you in the county and in Annapolis.    You are free to ask questions.

    Date                      Saturday, March 11

    Place                     Best Western Hotel                        Westminster

    Cost                       $ 30.00

    Anyone interested in attending, email me at Larry@GOPLarrly.com and I will see that you get the invitation

  • 01/06/2017 5:15 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)

    Larry’s Letter - January 2017

    On January 20, 2017, Donald J.Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Rather than what he IS, it may be even more important to point out what he is NOT. He is NOT a Senator. He is NOT a Congressman. He is NOT a Governor. He has never held an elected office. Rather, he has spent his entire life in running a private business, and has had to deal with every law that elected officials can come up with to regulate and tax business. You may not have thought of it this way; but . . . . . . . . . . . HE IS ONE OF US. How do WE deal with that?

    Over the past eight years many rules, regulations and taxes that affect business have come down from Washington. If the new president keeps his promises, many of these will be modified or eliminated. I would wager that most business owners who read this letter don’t know all of those which affect your own business. Changes are likely to be FAST AND FURIOUS. The big question for you is, “How do I know when a new law or rule affects my business?” The answer is for you to belong to the association related to your business.

    I was an insulation contractor. Since Carroll Insulation installed insulation in new homes, I belonged to HBAM (Home Builders Association of Maryland). When the organization printed their annual membership booklet, which went to every builder I wanted as a customer, my name, address and phone number was there. So, if a builder got upset with the insulator he was using, he opened the book and saw my name. To increase market penetration, I went to monthly organization meetings and ran for office, and was elected to the highest position a sub-contractor can hold. This put me in meetings where I could personally ask builders for their business.

    In the 1980’s, because so many new laws were coming from Washington and the States, a national organization was started specifically for insulation contractors. ICAA Insulation Contractors Association of America. Being a member empowered us to actually meet in Washington and in State Capitals with the heads of departments that make the rules. I joined, became active, and was elected President in 1983 and in 1998.

    So, knowing that so much is going to change in the next year that affects your business, I suggest that every SCBA member join the association that represents your business and become active. Simply joining and sending in a check doesn’t cut it. 1) Join 2) attend all the meetings 3) Become an officer.

    Larry Helminiak


  • 12/30/2016 4:22 PM | Karen Sorrell (Administrator)

    Larry's Letter

    December 2016

    Dear SCBA Members:

    If you are reading this you are a member of the South Carroll Business Association and you know that on November 8th, Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th president of the United States and will be sworn in on January 21, 2017.

    The next four years are likely to be very different than the past as they affect our businesses. Here are a few things that may affect you, as a business owner:

    Personal Taxes: Trump’s campaign promise was that he is going to reduce personal taxes to a maximum of 25%, down from their current level. My hope is that, along with lowering, they are less complicated.

    Business Taxes: We’ve all read about large businesses moving their headquarters overseas to avoid paying the highest tax rate in the world. If they are lowered, there is at least the chance that these companies will move headquarters back to this country and bring the money back that they now have in foreign banks. The size of government. Trump has promised to freeze hiring of federal employees and to not fill openings when a worker retires. This should reduce the cost of government, and, hopefully, taxes.

    Regulation:  Perhaps the biggest change of all. During my career I have seen federal and state regulations on business grow and grow and grow. I remember none that actually helped my business; but many that simply raised the cost of doing business. In 2010, I was fortunate to be on a Baltic Cruise with the Young America Foundation, and our small group was granted a meeting with the President of Estonia, Mart Larr. He said that, as the first president after Soviet occupation, he had to come up with a quick method of taxing. He was able to implement a flat tax of 23% on all citizens. Make a million dollars and pay $230,000. Make $ 10,000 and pay $2,300. No categories. In this way, everyone knows what they have to pay and everybody cares about taxes going up. Filing is simple. The country needed jobs, so Mr. Larr announced to the world that any business that came to Estonia would pay zero taxes. Businesses came, and Estonia grew dramatically. One member of our group,

    Governor George Allen said he heard that Estonia has the fastest growing economy in Europe and President Larr said, “Actually it’s the fastest growing country on earth.”

    Another member in our group, former Attorney General Ed Meese, asked if there were any people in Estonia had any trouble finding work and Mr. Larry replied, “Yes. Accountants and lawyers because we don’t need either one.”

    Sincerely,

    Larry Helminiak

    SCBA Government Relations Liaison

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