From the halls: Not just four-year degrees

(March 13, 2018–ANNAPOLIS, Md.)–It’s getting down to the wire for legislators to make sure bills move out of their originating chambers. Monday, March 19, is what’s called Crossover Day. If a bill hasn’t made it out of its originating chamber by then, it is no longer guaranteed to receive a hearing in the opposite chamber. Bills would have to be assigned to a Rules Committee and then a standing committee to have a chance. That means we’ll see a flurry of bills moving from committees to floors this week.

Update on paid leave compliance

Late last week, the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation released updated guidance on complying with 2017’s HB 1, the paid leave bill. Be sure to share that updated guidance with your human resources teams.

Minimum wage

Minimum wage bills got a lot of legislative attention last week. We testified on SB 543, SB 368 and SB 1019. The differences were in implementation and phase-ins for companies of specific size.

You may have seen Government Affairs Vice President Larry Richardson quoted on this in some press. As he shared with the committee, this year’s minimum wage increase to $10.10 marks a nearly 40-percent jump in the last four years. Three of our members have shared the impact of a further hike.

“When that bill goes through, that [pizzeria] employer with a staff of 30, including eight full-time employees, is going to see an increase in salary cost of $151,000,” Larry told the committee. “A coffeehouse with 11 employees, including four full-time employees, will see an increase of $45,000. And a company that’s been in business over 23 years with 42 employees will see an increase in labor costs of nearly $282,000.”

Affordable access to education and skills programs

The Maryland Chamber supported three initiatives to expand student opportunities at the tables last week. These bills help create a path to higher-skilled and higher-wage jobs. That’s good for economic development.

HB 1599 would, among other provisions, increase the financial accessibility of apprenticeship and job training opportunities for Maryland students. Maryland’s legislators have scholarship funds available to their constituents, but only if they are used toward eventual baccalaureate degrees. This bill would open those scholarships to vocational or apprenticeship program participants. It would also require community colleges to help with fees for textbooks and other materials. Overall, it means improved affordable access to education and skills training.

HB 1388 would create a $2.5 million annual state budget appropriation to help Maryland community college students with disabilities. It would pay for supplemental services and support via grants from the Maryland Higher Education Commission. This would be effective in fiscal year 2020.

HB 976 would establish a tuition waiver program for students completing vocation certificates, associate’s degrees, and apprenticeship training programs. This bill would allow more students to gain necessary skills and abilities for meaningful work.

Sine Die is less than a month away. Let us know if there is a bill that matters to you. Thank you, as always, for your partnership in building a stronger state.

 

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