A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. House and Senate advance vastly different bills on paid family leave as session moves into its final weeks
At the start of the legislative session in January, Maryland lawmakers filed identical bills in both the House and Senate that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to recover from childbirth or a serious illness, or to care for a loved one. But now, as session moves into its final stage, both chambers are advancing two vastly different versions of the legislation and it remains unclear which version, if any, will pass.
The Senate has moved forward with a bill that outlines a standard of 12 weeks of partially paid leave, and up to 24 weeks for qualifying new parents. Under this plan, Maryland workers who worked at least 680 hours in the last year would be eligible to start receiving benefits in January 2025, ranging from $50 to $1,000 a week. Workers would be required to cover 75% of the costs of the program, with employers covering 25% of the cost. Going a different direction, the House version proposes establishing a commission to study and make recommendations for establishing a program that would determine the cost split between the employers and workers. Read the full story here.
In an op-ed in the Capital Gazette, our President & CEO Mary Kane, along with the National Federation of Independent Business and the Maryland Retailers Association, discusses how establishing a one a one-size-fits-all family paid leave program would only worsen conditions for Maryland businesses at a time when they can least afford it. Find out why here.
2. Maryland high court hears gerrymandering case on its legislative districts
Maryland’s Court of Appeals began hearing arguments Wednesday on the state’s recently redrawn legislative districts that Republicans argue are highly gerrymandered and would illegally favor Democrats in elections. During the hearing, the plaintiffs, including Republican voters and two groups of GOP delegates, argued the map contains irregularly shaped districts and suggested substituting it with the map created by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by Governor Hogan. Once the hearing is over at the end of the week, the judge will assess all evidence before filing a report on the case with the appeals court, who will then rule. If the map gets scrapped, the court could order the General Assembly to make a new one.
Read the full story here.
3. SEC unveils new climate disclosure rule for businesses
On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a new effort to standardize climate-related disclosures for investors by requiring traded companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risks. The proposed rule will only affect companies registered with the SEC, potentially creating a wave of opportunities and challenges for businesses, regardless of size, if companies and investors begin to change their behaviors in response to the disclosure requirements. SEC officials said the goal of the new disclosures, which would go into effect if approved after a public comment period, is to help investors gauge a company’s exposure to climate risks and how well they manage those risks.
Read the full story here.
4. Happy holiday: Maryland gas prices are down for now after tax pause
After Governor Hogan signed legislation on Friday to enact an immediate gas tax suspension, the average price of gasoline dropped by 39 cents in Maryland, according to AAA. Maryland was the first state in the country to lift state taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels, providing much-needed relief to Marylanders at the pump. Nationally, average gas prices have also dropped since Friday, but not nearly as much (only 3 cents per gallon). Maryland’s tax holiday is set to expire on April 16 unless lawmakers vote to extend it. But it is unclear whether prices will continue to drop or if another price surge is coming amid uncertainty in the oil markets.
Read the full story here.
5. Don Fry and Mary Ann Scully to enter Maryland Business Hall of Fame
On Wednesday, The Maryland Chamber of Commerce announced we are inducting two of Maryland’s most accomplished business leaders into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame at our annual event, Inspire MD presented by AT&T, on May 12. Our inductees include Donald C. Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, and Mary Ann Scully, Former CEO of the Howard Bank. In addition to these honors, we will present Governor Larry Hogan with the 2022 Public Service Award and an up-and-coming Maryland executive, Sriram Manivannan, with our Rising Star Award.
“We are incredibly thrilled to gather the business community in-person in May to recognize stand-out Maryland businesses and leaders,” said Maryland Chamber President & CEO Mary Kane. “At Inspire MD, we honor Maryland’s most exceptional and dynamic leaders and celebrate what makes our business community unique and innovative. Governor Hogan, Don, Mary Ann and Sriram are wonderful examples of impactful leadership in our state, and we are thrilled to present them with these distinguished awards.”
You’re invited! Join us and 300+ fellow Marylanders to celebrate our 2022 Business Hall of Fame Award winners and be a part of a unique, experiential night that will leave you feeling truly energized, inspired and proud to be part of the Maryland business community. Purchase your tickets and learn more here!
Upcoming Legislative Briefings and Hearings
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Tuesday, March 31, 2022
See MGA Website for additional information