From the halls: Minimum wage, maximum effort

Today starts with nothing less than the much talked-about landmark issue of this year’s legislation: the effort to increase Maryland’s minimum wage to $15.

The House Economic Matters Committee takes up HB 664, the first of four bills on the issue, today at 1 p.m. We will be on record opposing the wage hike for several reasons, chief among them unintended but serious consequence of cuts to jobs and available hours, as well as the extraordinary additional expense. Members can find our advocacy kit on the bill on mdchamber.org.

The hearing for the Senate cross-file, SB 543, is scheduled for March 8. The Senate Finance Committee will also hear two other $15 mininum wage bills—SB 235 and SB 368—that day.

Remember the hope we mentioned for small business?

In the aftermath of HB 1 becoming law, HB0099 / SB0134 would provide a tax credit to small businesses that offer their employees certain employer-sponsored benefits. These benefits include paid time off, commuter benefits, dependent care assistance, educational assistance and health saving account (HSA) contributions. We testified in favor in both the House and the Senate.

SB0377 is the cross-filed version of HB 512, which we shared with you last week. It would require an employer to provide an applicant with a job’s pay scale on request, and would prohibit an employer from relying on wage history information to screen or make salary offers to prospective employees. The bill further creates actual damages, liquidated damages and special damages for the violation of these mandates. We oppose it.

SB0305 would alter the More Jobs for Marylanders Act passed in 2017. These alterations include expanding the definition of a qualified business from primarily the manufacturing sector to businesses engaged in mining, transportation, communication, and agriculture, among others. We support it.

Updates

We testified in favor of HB1358/SB0380, which has now passed the Senate and awaits a vote in the House. This bill provides an income tax credit to employers who otherwise cannot hire an intern, increasing the number of internships available to develop the workforce.

Because we believe it would shield necessary information from employers about their job applicants, we opposed HB0733, which got an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee. This bill would have required the clerk of the court to shield civil court records from public inspection one year after a certain judgment has been satisfied or seven years after the conclusion of the civil proceeding.

SB0428 changes the date when the state would begin to pay interest on tax refunds when taxpayers are not at fault. It passed the Senate and is currently in the House. We support this bill because it would allow taxpayers to receive interest on their refunds starting on the date of the overpayment if the fault was on the state.

Got some advice?

Our Rural Advisory Group’s first quarterly meeting discussed proactive steps the Maryland Chamber can take on rural health care access and availability. Our Telecommunications Advisory Group discussed how the industry is working to expand access in rural areas around Western and Southern Maryland the Eastern Shore. It also exchanged ideas on how increased investment and small-cell proliferation could lead to increased economic opportunities across the state.

Tomorrow is the first quarterly meeting of the Human Resource Advisory Group, 10 – 11 a.m. in the Maryland Chamber offices.

If you have expertise and you would like to join any of these groups, you are welcomed.

Regardless of your industry, if there is a way we can help you advocate for a better state, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

 

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