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Legislative Update - January 3, 2017

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To make Maryland attractive to businesses, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is keeping a close eye on 2017 General Assembly issues like mandatory paid leave, income tax credits, and liability.

Under last year’s bill, employers with at least 15 employees would be required to provide paid leave to anyone who worked eight hours a week; some part-time workers could accrue seven full paid days. Although we believe employers should have the right to decide what kind of benefits they provide their employees, if the bill returns, the Chamber wants a higher number of worked hours, a maximum of five full days paid leave, and a 50-employee minimum trigger for consistency with existing standards. It wants the state law to preempt local law.

“We appreciate that the governor and lawmakers recognize the business community’s concerns with last year’s bill,” said Chamber President & CEO Christine Ross. “The costs, requirements and penalty provisions would hurt small businesses. If there’s another bill, we’ll work to reduce that impact.”

To encourage growth, Ross said, the Chamber will support proposed income tax credit increases for qualified research and development expenses, and for hiring eligible interns.

It will also watch for moves toward mandatory unitary combined reporting in retail and food service. Unitary combined reporting essentially applies state income taxes to earnings outside of Maryland, forcing multi-state businesses to pay taxes on the same income multiple times and diminishing Maryland’s lure. 

Additionally, the Chamber will track bills that may remove caps on punitive damages for personal injury or death, or change the “actual malice” standard requiring litigants to prove intent to harm.

“We want a strong business environment for workers and employers,” Ross said. “The best way to make that happen is to encourage a reasonable regulatory environment so businesses want to call Maryland home. This, in turn, will mean more jobs for the residents of this great state.”