From the Halls: $15 in review and the two man crew

On Friday, February 8th, Maryland Chamber members and other business representatives came to Annapolis to testify against an increase in minimum wage to $15. After a long day in the Economic Matters Committee room, the Maryland Chamber had numerous panels testify to the harm this increase would cause their businesses. Read how the business community stood together at the House.

The fight didn’t end there, however. In just under two weeks, on February 21st, the Fight for Fifteen will move over to the Senate. We need business owners and representatives to mark their calendars to return back to Annapolis to Fight AGAINST Fifteen. Sign up now.


HB 66/SB 252 Two man crew for freight transport

Maryland’s freight rail industry is one of its most critical. It helps to minimize transportation costs, manage carbon emissions levels and strengthen the state’s competitiveness. The rail industry is also responsible for thousands of direct jobs and contributes to hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs in Maryland. With HB 66/SB 252, Railroad Company – Movement of Freight – Required Crew, railroad companies will be forced to comply with onerous regulations which mandates that freight trains stop at the Maryland border, add a crew-member, and drop them off once they leave the state. This complicates what should be an easy flow of freight, especially when this industry is responsible for a significant portion of the movement of goods and services in Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Transportation projects that freight rail demands will increase by 45 percent by 2040. To keep up with these demands and ensure the easy movement of goods in, out and through the State of Maryland, the Maryland Chamber feels it is in the best interest of the state to support legislation that facilitates, not hinders, this movement. Private companies, the state and the federal government have all made significant investments in freight rail, knowing that it creates jobs, expands the economy, and increases Maryland’s competitive edge.

SB219 Second chance – employment of ex-offenders

Employers make an incredibly difficult choice when they decide to hire an ex-offender. This choice is driven by the fact that, under current law, an employer is liable for that ex-offender if they commit a crime while on the job.

The Manhattan Institute, in their 2015 report entitled Prison to Work: The Benefits of Intensive Job Search Assistant for Former Inmates, found that inmates have the greatest chance of avoiding recidivism (repeat offenses) if they find employment.

Employers take on risk when they hire any employee, which is the reason they are so diligent in their application and screening processes. Often, the instance of a criminal record is enough of a liability for an employer to reject an application.

In order to ease business owners’ worries about the legitimate possibility that an ex-offender, or their newest employee, might unfortunately repeat a previous offense, there need to be safeguards in place to help mitigate concerns and liability risks. Legislature, like SB 219, will help to protect employers from these types of lawsuits.

SB 173 Regulations impacting small business

It’s estimated that from 1993 to 2011, small business was responsible for the creation of 64 percent of all new jobs in the United States. Maryland is a small business state, but we face crucial regional competition. Recently, the 50 State Small Business Regulation Index listed Virginia as one of the top 10 best states for small business. Maryland was not even in the top 35 of this ranking.

Senate Bill 173 requires state agencies to establish an electronic registry, notification system and compliance guides for proposed regulations that are expected to have a significant impact on small business. Effective October 1, 2021, specified requirements for proposed regulations with significant small business impacts and the Advisory Council on the Impact of Regulations on Small Businesses would be repealed.

To help small businesses to comply with all of Maryland’s current regulations, it will be incredibly useful to have a mechanism in place that offers assistance and guidance, as well as notifies businesses of new regulations that will be especially substantial. Additionally, this bill will allow agencies more discretion when determining the assessment of fines and penalties on small businesses (defined as below 50 employees).

Related Stories

Together in the fight against $15 minimum wage 

From the Halls: Maryland’s unintended consequences of $15 minimum wage

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