Frustrated over mounting regulations on Maryland businesses, Frederick County Commissioner Kirby Delauter said a comment he made during a recent meeting about moving his Emmitsburg-based construction business to Pennsylvania was sarcastic.
During a May 17 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Delauter (R) criticized PlanMaryland, an effort by the state government to promote sustainable growth and development, as part of a series of moves that could make companies in the state move to Virginia or Pennsylvania, where there are fewer government regulations.
“They’re going to go down the road, get out of here,” Delauter said. “I don’t blame them. I wish I could take my business and move it across the Pennsylvania line. I’d do it tomorrow. And I still may do that.”
Delauter and four of the five members of the current board of commissioners ran on a platform largely focused on making Frederick County more business friendly and drawing businesses to the county.
Delauter said Monday that his remark had been made sarcastically, but he defended the sentiment behind it.
He said he hears from a lot of businesses about the problems of regulation in Maryland, and has seen the amount of government red tape increase during his 25 years with W.F. Delauter and Son, Inc., a construction company in Emmitsburg.
Lawmakers in Annapolis need to better understand the ramifications of the regulations they’re putting on small businesses, he said.
Delauter said that state auditors recently visited his business, requiring his employees to stop their normal tasks to provide financial information to the state. Following their two-week review, auditors questioned a $12 discrepancy.
Delauter said this illustrates the unnecessary burden that the state is placing on small businesses.
In December, the Frederick commissioners joined with the governments of Allegany, Carroll and Washington counties to form the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition. The group hired two lobbyists to oppose proposed legislation and programs, including PlanMaryland, that would bring increased regulations, fees and taxes they believed would harm their counties’ economies and long-term prospects for growth. Cecil County later joined the coalition.
A work group on smart growth is scheduled to submit a report to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in August outlining how state agencies will implement the plan.
On Tuesday, O’Malley signed a bill stating that PlanMaryland cannot be used as a cause for the state to deny project permits or approvals, or to deny mandated funding. It also requires good faith meetings between the state’s Department of Planning and the local government if there’s a conflict in identifying growth, preservation or other planning areas as part of the plan.
Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) said he took Delauter’s comment at the meeting as sarcastic “venting,” and said he believes Delauter was trying to make a point about the frustrations felt by many in Maryland.
“His opinions are no different than many other elected officials across the state,” said Young, who owns the Yellow Cab of Frederick taxi company in Frederick.
Many officials, whether in Annapolis or elsewhere, don’t own businesses that employ people, he said.
Hopefully, Young said, Delauter’s comments will help state officials understand the frustrations of business owners.
Delauter said he has no plans to move his company out of Frederick County.
“It’s not like I’m going to pick up and move my business tomorrow or next week or next year,” he said.