(Jan. 18, 2018 – ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — In spite of morning snow and cold that got more bitter by the hour, more than 200 leaders in the Maryland business community joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in Annapolis for its Business Day & Legislative Reception on Wednesday, Jan. 17.
The day, organized by the Maryland Chamber, was a chance for those leaders to show lawmakers that business matters to Maryland, and that employers need elected officials to understand how hard it is to stay open in the state.
With the override of Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 HB 1 veto, mandatory paid leave is just one of a number of onerous mandates that could come out of the session—and mandates pose a threat to jobs, benefits, consumer costs and more.
“Our small, woman-owned business must now fund over 20,000 paid leave hours annually, which is equivalent to hiring more than 10 full-time employees,” said Lynden Renwick of BrightKey, an outsourced service and support company with 200 staff in Maryland.
That’s just the beginning for Maryland employers, who came to share their concerns with legislators whose decisions in chambers impact Marylanders all over the state.
“It is becoming more difficult for our business to operate in the natural business environment, and more government intervention will not help,” said Ben Yingling, who has five employees at Crawford-Yingling Insurance in Westminster, Maryland. “Our employees are valuable, and for 100 years, we have treated them that way. We support Maryland and we want to do business here, but more regulation and mandates make it hard to operate successfully.”
Legislators in both the House and Senate recognized the Maryland Chamber group in the galleries as they gaveled the day to order.
“They will be advocating on issues and priorities that will make the state stronger economically by making Maryland businesses more competitive regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Sen. Stephen Hershey on the floor as he explained the day’s purpose to colleagues.
Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller noted to senators that it’s important to listen to employers about how bills and laws affect their businesses. Both the House and Senate acknowledged the group with applause from the floor.
After that, the group broke for individual meetings with their legislators.
For Mark Cissell, who employs about 100 people at KatzAbosch in Timonium, it boils down to where he spends his time, energy and resources. It’s about what it means to his clients and his ability to hire.
“We understand what legislators are trying to accomplish,” Cissell said. “Ultimately, the question for legislators is: Do you want us to be running our businesses and serving Marylanders, or do you want us to be dealing with compliance and paperwork all day? Do you want us to keep costs reasonable in the market and hire more employees, or do you want us to tie up funds in compliance and fines?”
These are questions that don’t have partisan qualifiers, which is why the Maryland Chamber invited every legislator to its evening reception. Just like in business, when relationships are stronger, results are better for everyone involved.
“The Maryland Chamber advocates for ways to strengthen the state for all Marylanders, with a focus on issues instead of parties or politicians,” said President & CEO Christine Ross. “This is about working together for a common good that makes Maryland more competitive and helps employers grow.”