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Legislation that would triple funding for the state’s research and development tax credit program — a key issue for Maryland business leaders — has returned in both the House and Senate.Similar legislation died in the House last session after passing the Senate 46-0.

The bill got caught up with budget talks during the late hours of the session last year, said Gene Burner, president of the Manufacturers’ Alliance of Maryland, a coalition of manufacturing companies that operate in the state. He said the measure should have a better chance of approval in the 2013 session.

“I think it will get a better look by the House this time,” Burns said. “It has a good shot this year to pass.”

HB386 and SB203 would increase the maximum amount of research and development tax credits that may be granted annually from $6 million to $18 million. It also would allow a refundable credit for small businesses, which would help those that don’t yet have income.

The program has been dominated by large businesses, according to a legislative analysis. Having more funds available would spread the funding to smaller businesses, as would having the refundable credit, Burner said.

The current cap has not been increased since the program was created in 2000, while Pennsylvania has more than tripled its program funding to $55 million since then, according to a legislative analysis.

Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) sponsored the House version, while Sen. Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery) sponsored the Senate bill.

They could not be reached for comment.

Hearings are set for 1 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and 1 p.m. Feb. 26 in the House Ways and Means Committee.

kshay@gazette.net