The Maryland Senate voted 37 to 9 Monday to exempt Lockheed Martin from paying about $450,000 a year in hotel taxes to Montgomery County related to a training center that the giant defense contractor operates in Bethesda.
Supporters of the measure, who included most senators from Montgomery, argued that the lodging facilities at the center are not a hotel and that the action was consistent with a decision the General Assembly made in 2010 to exempt it from state sales taxes.
But Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), the chairman of the county delegation, said the Senate action defied the will of a majority of the Montgomery County Council, which is on record opposing the tax break.
“I think we’re going down the wrong road, where the state is overriding the judgment of the county,” Raskin said.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has supported the measure, which Sen. Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery), the bill’s chief sponsor, noted during Monday night’s debate.
As introduced, King’s bill would have applied retroactively to 2010. Montgomery officials estimated the county would owe a refund of about $1.4 million to Lockheed Martin as a result. But that provision was dropped from the bill in recent days.
As written, the bill applies to any company that operates a lodging facility in Maryland solely to support a training or conference facility that is not open to the general public. But no other facility currently qualifies for the relief.
Lockheed Martin’s Center for Leadership Excellence opened in Bethesda in 2009. It is a 30,000 square-foot conference center and lodging facility located next to the company’s headquarters. It has more than 180 guest rooms.
The bill now moves to the House of Delegates.