From the Halls: The Fight Against Fifteen is far from over

(April 2, 2019—ANNAPOLIS, Md.) The end is near—of session that is. In less than one week, on midnight of April 8th, every bill that made it past Crossover Day will have a decided fate. As we’re coming into the home stretch, many bills that the Maryland Chamber of Commerce has testified on are still undecided. Our government affairs team is hustling to weigh in on all bills important to business before Sine Die.

Here are the latest legislative updates that you need to know:

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

Despite a hard fought battle and a veto by Governor Hogan, minimum wage will be increasing to $15. The General Assembly overrode the veto with a 96-43 vote in the House and a 32-15 vote in the Senate. The Maryland Chamber and numerous members vehemently advocated against the increase. Although this legislation has passed, the Maryland Chamber is not done fighting. We will convene a task force to compile data on the impacts of a higher minimum wage from our members who explicitly communicated to the General Assembly that they will shut down, cut jobs and/or move across state lines with its passage.

To our members and all businesses that came to Annapolis to fight against fifteen, thank you. We have heard your voices and will continue to fight for your business and all businesses in Maryland. Now it is time that we hold our legislators accountable. The Maryland Chamber urges you to look at the voting list from the House and the Senate veto override, and if your legislator voted for a $15 minimum wage, get in contact with them. Let them know you are disappointed. Make it clear how detrimental this legislation will be not only to your business but to the livelihoods of you and your employees.

Interested in how legislation like $15 minimum wage will affect the manufacturing industry? Download our Manufacturing Policy Report to learn more.

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

The Maryland Chamber has been a champion of P-TECH since its inception in Maryland. We have 11 members who are partners working day in and day out to help students achieve the education and careers they deserve.

Under current law, no new P-TECH schools are allowed until the 2016 cohort of students graduate from the six-year program. HB 440, would allow three new P-TECH 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 amendment.

HB 440 is currently in the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee within the Senate. The Maryland Chamber government affairs team is working closely with the Senators who are members of EHEA to move this bill forward.

Learn more about P-TECH through the Maryland Chamber Foundation.

Senate Bill 1049 – Civil Actions – Office of Asbestos Case Mediation and Resolution

There is a tremendous backlog of worker’s compensation cases in the State of Maryland related to asbestos. In efforts to reduce this backlog, SB 1049 has been submitted to reduce cases through mediation and resolution. This would combine a number of cases together, to be evaluated in a bundle. The issue here is that each case isn’t decided on its own merit. Some individuals may be awarded more money than necessary and some, less money than deserved.

The Maryland Chamber is in favor of increased litigation to alleviate the backlog. This is the fair way to adjudicate these cases, on their own merits.

Download our Advocacy Guide to learn how you can activate your voice with the Maryland Chamber.

REMINDER: Tax day is fast approaching

This is a reminder for all businesses to file your Annual Reports and/or Personal Property Tax Returns by April 15th in order to remain in good standing. You may also request a two-month filing extension through Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation’s online system, allowing you until June 17th to submit your filings.

For more specifics on what needs to be filed and how to do so read more here.

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