VALUE OF TOURISM PROMOTION FUNDING IS RECOGNIZED IN PROPOSED STATE BUDGET The proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2015 includes an additional $1 million for the Maryland Tourism Development Board and $2 million for the state's War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration. Next critical steps in the budget approval process are Senate and House hearings this week and next. MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE OPTION DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY Proposals currently under consideration include a $12.00 per hour minimum wage (effective July 2014), a $10.10 per hour minimum wage (phased in over 3 years), raising the minimum wage for tipped workers from 50% to 70% and allowing every county in the state to set their own county wide minimum wage. FORECAST FOR PROBABILITY OF RAIN TAX REPEAL IS 0% The top leadership of the Maryland Senate and Maryland House of Delegates have predicted the General Assembly will not repeal mandated storm water fees (aka the rain tax) in Baltimore City and nine of the state's most populous counties this year. Not addressed was prospects for some revisions to the law. CONGRATULATIONS JAMES LOBOSCO James, who is Regional Vice President Operations for Kokua Hospitality; is the 2014 Chair of the MH&LA Board of Directors. As Chair, he will lead ongoing Board efforts to implement MH&LA's Strategic Plan which includes a new Vision, new Mission and an annual Business Plan with SMART Goals. REMINDER -- DEADLINE FOR STARS OF THE INDUSTRY NOMINATIONS IS JANUARY 31 The 25th Annual STARS of the Industry Awards Program is a once a year opportunity to honor outstanding accomplishments by lodging industry professionals and lodging industry properties in Maryland. For more details on the Awards categories or to submit nominations online click here. REGISTER ONLINE FOR TOURISM DAY IN ANNAPOLIS This free grassroots advocacy event on Friday January 31 is a great opportunity for tourism industry professionals from across Maryland to share the positive impact of tourism on Maryland's economy with key decision makers in Annapolis. To register click here.