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Nearly a month after it was introduced, a bill to authorize a hotel room tax for Harford County has not made any progress in the Maryland General Assembly.

Harford County Del. B. Dan Riley introduced a hotel room tax authorization bill earlier this session at the behest of the city of Aberdeen, but no action has been taken on the bill by the House Ways and Means Committee.

The bill, which does not have the support of any other members of the delegation, had a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee Feb. 18, but there’s been no committee action on it since.

Riley’s bill will authorize a tax, not to exceed 5 percent, on hotel and motel room rentals for the entire county, but even if the state bill passes, the tax would still have to be approved at the county level by the county council and county executive.

“It’s long overdue for Harford County,” Riley said earlier in the session, adding that Harford is the only county in Maryland that does not have a room tax.

Though the legislation will be enabling, Riley had also explored the possibility of making the hotel tax mandatory.

Riley said he had two bills drawn up; however, after talking to officials at both the county and municipal level, he found their preference was for enabling legislation.

Aberdeen city officials have sought some kind of hotel tax in the past, and this year, the officials requested legislation imposing a mandatory 5 percent hotel home tax.

To get any room tax bill through this session, it will need the unanimous support of Harford’s eight delegates and three senators, or at least a situation where none of them tries to kill the effort.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think the delegation will support it,” Riley said.

Riley said the word “tax” is what scares people, but it is because they don’t understand how it works.

The room tax will only be imposed on those who use the hotels and motels in the county, not on residents of the county like an income or property tax.

Two years ago, Riley introduced a similar bill that passed in the House, but was killed in the Senate by an unfriendly amendment, according to Riley’s Annapolis update.

At the time, more than 24 Harford County citizens, many from the Aberdeen area, came to the committee hearing to testify in support of the bill.


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