From the Halls: P-TECH expansion in Maryland

We’ve made it…past Crossover Day that is. With just under three weeks to go until the end of the 2019 legislative session there is still a lot up in the air—it’s, quite literally, do or die time. Over the coming weeks, legislation will be moving forward or will die, hoping to be revived come 2020. Our government affairs team is still hard at work tracking the legislation you have been focusing on all session.

House Bill 440 – Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) Expansion Act of 2019

Delegate Harrison is sponsoring HB 440, a bill quite similar to a P-TECH bill introduced by Governor Hogan, that was shut-down. This bill would repeal the limit of the number of P-TECH planning grants that may be awarded to a local school system in each year.

Currently, each local school system is allowed one planning grant, and there may be no establishment of a new P-TECH school until after the 2016-2017 cohort of students completes the six-year pathway, in 2022.

Just last week, there was an amendment added that would allow three new planning grants to be awarded come fiscal year 2020. It will still stand that each local school system may only be allowed one planning grant, but the implementation of a new school would be allowed before 2022 with this amendment.

The P-TECH program serves all students, including those from low-income families, first-generation college students, students with disabilities, English-language learners and students of color. Maryland is looking to replicate the success the first cohort of students has achieved thus far to help improve job readiness in the state.

At the Maryland Chamber, we have 11 members who are partners in the state’s P-TECH program: Alban CAT, Community College of Baltimore County, Dataprise, Inc., Johns Hopkins University, Kaiser Permanente, KCI Technologies, Inc., Marriott International, MedStar Health, Stanley Black & Decker, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. There are more members who are ready and willing to be partners in P-TECH, but at this point, the state will not allow it.

The Maryland Chamber supports this bill because it recognizes the need for a strong talent pipeline. P-TECH allows the chance for a high quality education and workforce experience. It also prepares students, who need it most, for higher education or for jobs in high-demand industries. Learn more about P-TECH and how this model has been globally successful.

Senate Bill 813 – Personal Injury or Wrongful Death – Noneconomic Damages 

Senate Bill 813 increases the maximum amount of noneconomic damages that may be recovered in specified personal injury or wrongful death actions, including health care malpractice actions. The bill establishes separate formulas for calculating the limit on noneconomic damages based on the number of claimants or beneficiaries in an action.

The Maryland Chamber is deeply concerned about the negative impact this bill would have on employers and their employees. Small businesses may be subject to higher liability for noneconomic damages. The bill may also result in increased insurance premiums for small businesses, including health care practitioners, as a result of the increases in potential liability. This is especially problematic for small businesses with razor-thin revenue margins. For employers and employees both, they will see their health care costs rise as a product of physicians and hospitals passing along, to patients, their increased premium rates.

House Bill 166/Senate Bill 280 – Labor and Employment – Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage (Fight for Fifteen)

We promised we would keep you up-to-date on the current status of the $15 minimum wage bills, HB 166 and SB 280. The House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have identified their respective Conference Committee members to work out the differences between the version passed by the House and then modified in the Senate.

The House Conference Committee will be Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis (D-25), Kathleen Dumais (D-15), and C.T. Wilson (D-28). The Senate Conference Committee will be Finance Chair Delores Kelley (D-10), Vice-Chair Brain Feldman (D-15) and Malcolm Augustine (D-47).

Related stories:

P-TECH in Maryland

Why $15 minimum wage is bad for business

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