From the halls: Crossover

(March 20, 2018–ANNAPOLIS, Md.)–It’s not exactly March Madness, and we’re not going to wear out all the basketball puns, but yesterday was a significant buzzer on the legislative clock.

Over, not back

Yesterday was Crossover Day. That means bills that have not made it out of their originating chamber are far less likely to see hearings in the opposite chamber. It’s not impossible, but it requires Rules Committee assignments and political will.

One bill that, predictably,  remains on the bench is the Paid Leave Compromise Act. This was Gov. Larry Hogan’s attempt to modify 2017’s HB 1 paid leave law. With HB 1 already in effect, the compromise act was going to be a confusing challenge if it went anywhere, but it is still in its original committee.

Wins

The House Economic Matters Committee issued unfavorable reports on several bills, including the attempt to increase overtime regulations on businesses.

HB 974 would have imposed on a state level what the U.S. Department of Labor attempted to regulate in late 2016. We opposed the bill because it would have changed tens of thousands of Maryland workers from exempt to non-exempt status, hurting their work-hour flexibility and benefits.

The committee powered down several energy-related bills, as well. HB 1453/SB 732 and HB 878 would have increased the Renewable Portfolio Standard 25 percent by 2020, 50 percent by 2030, and/or 100 percent by 2035. We opposed these bills. This rate went up at the beginning of 2017 and there is a study underway to find the most effective way to proliferate renewable energy without harming businesses.

HB 939 would have imposed heavy penalties on energy producers via a tax on greenhouse gas-producing substances. This tax would add to the cost of almost everything Maryland consumers and businesses use or consume. We opposed this.

Plays remaining

Tomorrow, March 21, the House Ways & Means Committee is scheduled to hear SB 380, the tax incentive bill for certain businesses to hire interns. The bill has already passed the Senate. Tomorrow is the second reading in the House committee. It’s on an 18-bill docket, starting at 1 p.m.

SB 810 will head to the Senate floor, where we expect it to pass. We support it, as we did last year when it got stuck in committee, because it gives businesses in depressed areas tax credits to hire additional employees.

SB 979 would change the refund and compensation structure of the Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF). The Senate passed it, and it is now in House Economic Matters. We support this bill because it allows employers to receive more money toward any lien reimbursement from a third party recovery.

The House passed HB 372, which allocates $150 million to the Washington-Area Metropolitan Transit Authority as part of a permanent funding source. WMATA sought $167 million from Maryland. We support this bill and a permanent funding solution for the Metro because it moves millions of people to work each day and improves highway and city traffic. The Senate has not yet passed its version of this bill, SB 277. We believe it will either match the House’s allocation or increase it to $167 million.

Set-up

With the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now in effect, check our resource links for a template on how to inform staff about how their personal income taxes will be withheld. You will need to provide the specifics in the highlighted areas.

Thanks for being with us as we look ahead to the last three weeks of the legislative session. Don’t forget to join us for our open house on Sine Die. We hope to see you there.

And congrats, Retrievers, for making NCAA men’s basketball history. This won’t get old.

 

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