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June 30, 2011

O'Malley calls state permit process a 'weakness'

Gov. Martin O'Malley called Maryland's often lengthy and confusing business permit process "one of the weaknesses of our state," this morning before signing an executive order aimed at easing it.

"Fast Track," he said, is supposed to help speed projects with significant economic impact in specific redevelopment areas -- so long as they would not adversely impact the state's environmental and Smart Growth goals.

Developers who qualify for Fast Track would be told up front whether their business plans have any chance at approval, or whether the state will fight "tooth and nail" against the project, O'Malley said.

The new program is part of an overall administration concept called Maryland Made Easy, which corrals state permitting and business approval information in one area. Noting that small businesses account for 85 percent of the jobs in Maryland, O'Malley said, "We understand that government is not the job creator. But it sets the conditions."

Bureaucratic red tape was a theme on the gubernatorial campaign trail last year, with Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. repeatedly criticizing the Democratic governor's "over-regulation" of private businesses.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is tasked with overseeing Fast Track, said complaints about Maryland's approval process date back far longer than the O'Malley administration.

"It's not like approvals came to a standstill four years ago," Brown said. He said he and the governor have been pondering ways to improve it for years but "we needed to make sure we got it right."

The state Department of Business and Economic Development now plays "traffic cop" for the permitting process, said Secretary Christian Johansson, helping businesses contact all the right state agencies. The speed of permitting will be monitored by StateStat, allowing the governor to prod agencies that aren't moving quickly enough, Johansson said.

Maryland Business for Responsive Government -- a frequent critic of O'Malley's approach to small business -- issued a supportive press release today on Fast Track.

"Governor O'Malley is taking a step in the right direction today by streamlining regulatory processes in Maryland departments and agencies," MBRG President Kimberly M. Burns said in a statement. "The executive order has potential to increase business productivity, investment and ultimately lead to job creation."

Bakery Express in Halethorpe played host to the Fast Track executive order ceremony this morning. The many cabinet secretaries and state and local lawmakers in attendance left with boxes of doughnuts.

Owner Charles Burman said his own experience with state and local permits has been positive in recent years.

By the time he began working on the 143,000 square-foot bakery in Halethorpe in 2007, he'd already opened three others in Maryland and one each in California, Texas and Florida. He said he knew to stay in constant communication with the state agencies that would issue permits.

"The state was extremely responsive," Burman said, "but we were extremely proactive."

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:40 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Administration, Money and Business, jobs, jobs, jobs


About fracking time MOM got his head out of his --- and did something, anything to improve the business climate in this state,
Continually raising fees/taxes and spending certainly is not the answer,.
I have been pressing my boss for years to relocate the business out of Maryland because of the high cost of doing business and living here.

how about cutting taxes from businesses, you nimwit? O'Malley still can't see the correlation between high taxes and businesses not coming here. It's gotta be just the paperwork....

I'll admit this-- right direction. IF it's as it seems on the surface. About time, MOM.
Maybe if you'd done this 4 years ago I never would have had any furloughs...

Maryland is not business friendly or retirement friendly and it has lost any luster it once had due to heavy taxes. Martin You want to help commercial fishers and crabbers when they lie on their income taxes for what they make. Peter just check what revenue and business is generated by Sport Fishing and make Rock Fish a Gamefish this is a no brainer if you really want to help small business.People can't afford the Taxes and Tolls in Maryland they can move South with a better class of lifestyle the way Maryland use to be.

If it's admittedly "one of the weaknesses of our state," why is this not available for businesses in all of the state, and available regardless of the size of the economic impact?

Obviously O'Malley is reacting to the recent Sun article citing Maryland is 50th in job creation and the CNBC article showing Virginia is the nation's most business friendly state. Reacting as usual but claiming leadership. Maybe he should spend more time in his own state instead of other states criticizing everything under the sun.

I'm not a fan of MOM, but MOM didn't create the current business climate. It exists because of the state legislature. The cries of that MD is not business friendly were voiced by Ehrlich running against Townsend.

That being said, MD must being doing something right. We have some of the best school systems in the nation, an educated workforce, and rank high in per capita income.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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