From the beginning of session, it was clear that the legislature intended to create an incentive package around the federally designated Opportunity Zones, many of which overlap municipalities. The Governor and several legislators introduced legislation in January designed to leverage investor funds in Opportunity Zone in differing ways. Ultimately, Senator Bill Ferguson took the lead and incorporated various aspects of each (in a now 60-page bill!).
As described by the bill’s sponsor, SB 581:
1. Extends and provides more resources for the More Jobs for Marylander’s Program.
2. Provides “value-based” enhancements to several programs for transparency (level 1, 5% boost) and community benefits (level 2, 10% boost). To be eligible for level 2 enhancements, a qualified business or fund must have the approval of their municipality if they reside in one.
3. Alters the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program and extends the benefit to certain Opportunity Zones.
4. Addresses vacant properties by authorizing local governments to provide a property tax credit against local real property taxes imposed on the eligible assessment of qualified opportunity zone business property if the property has been vacant for at least 12 months.
5. Expands rural development by extending some development programs limited to priority funding areas to all the Opportunity Zones located in Allegany, Garrett, Somerset, and Wicomico counties.
The bill received its hearing in the House of Delegates this afternoon. MML staff will continue to track all developments and provide more information when appropriate.