A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. Employers may need to change employee policies with new marijuana law
While Maryland will soon allow marijuana, the drug is still illegal federally – leading to confusion by employees that are required to take drug tests as a new hire, randomly, or due to a workplace accident. Beginning July 1, adults ages 21 and older will be allowed to use and possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. Maryland will join more than 20 states and the District of Columbia that allow for recreational use of the drug.
Experts say since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, employers are permitted to test for marijuana and terminate an employee, or refuse to hire a candidate, that tests positive. Other jurisdictions, however, have enacted legislation modifying their laws mandating that employers cannot refuse to hire an applicant who tests positive, or otherwise discriminate against someone who has a medical marijuana card.
2. Governor Moore makes the case for high school students’ optional year of service
For the second time in a week, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore visited a state legislative committee to make the case for one of his administration’s priorities.
Moore testified before the Maryland House Appropriations Committee for his bill SERVE, or Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act, that aims to establish a service year option to provide young people of every background and jurisdiction throughout Maryland the opportunity to serve our state while gaining real-world perspectives, skills and experiences.
According to the proposed bill, students would work a 30-hour week and be paid $15 an hour. Upon completion of the program, they would earn a $3,000 stipend. There will also be opportunities for students to get guidance in professional development and financial literacy. Moore said businesses and nonprofits alike would be invited to participate,
Initially, the SERVE Act would include 200 students, expanding to 2,000 by 2027. So far, the bill has received support from both sides of the aisle, as well as from members of the business community.
3. Maryland lawmakers reelect Dereck Davis treasurer
Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday reelected Dereck Davis to be the state’s treasurer for a four-year term.
The treasurer, who is elected by the General Assembly, is the principal custodian of the state’s cash deposits, money from bond sales and other securities, and directs the investments of those assets. He also leads several key state boards and financial planning committees, including the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Systems.
Davis said he is making a priority of improving the state’s performance in meeting goals of increasing Minority Business Enterprise participation in state procurement. While Maryland set a goal of 29% minority participation, the number routinely comes in at under 12%, Davis said.
4. U.S. business activity rebounds to eight-month high in February
U.S. business activity unexpectedly rebounded in February, reaching its highest level in eight months, according to a survey on Tuesday that also showed signs of inflation subsiding.
S&P Global said its flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, increased to 50.2 this month from January’s final reading of 46.8.
This uptick ended seven straight months of the index being below the 50 mark, indicating a contraction in the private sector and a rise in business activity for the services sector – though manufacturing remains weak. Economists had forecasted the index being at only 47.5.
5. Top six global business trends to watch in 2023
Understanding the global environment is imperative for the U.S. business community – and a precondition for the American leadership required to shape that environment. For that reason, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently shared some of the biggest global trends they are tracking for 2023, which include:
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