The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has a committed and dedicated team that works on behalf of our members and the business community as a whole, advocating for what makes Maryland move forward. This legislative session was challenging to businesses—the engines that employ Marylanders. Below you’ll find more of the biggest bills we worked on this year.
MORE OF MDCC’S MAJOR ADVOCACY IN THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
HB 440/SB 55 (liability for ex-offender employment)
This bill would have made employers immune from liability in certain situations for employing an ex-offender who reoffends. If we want ex-offenders to re-enter society productively and meaningfully, we have to be able to employ them without fear of retribution if they commit another crime. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce supported this bill. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it out of its original committees.
HB 872, HB 1051/SB 1021, and HB 1052/SB 873 (tax credits)
872, 1051/1021 defeated; 873 passed
These bills would amend or create certain tax credits and incentives programs to be as efficient as possible and create more opportunities for Marylanders. The Chamber supported these bills to give businesses needed relief and encouraging job creation, especially in economically distressed areas. HB 872, HB 1051/SB 1021, and HB 1052 were held in committee, but SB873 passed.
HB 868/SB 869 (workforce development funding for community colleges)
This bill would have let community college students take courses that assist in job preparation, licensure or certification, or job skill enhancement. The Chamber supported this legislation because it trains the future workforce in highly useful and desirable skills, creating a more robust school-to-workforce pipeline. This program would help students succeed in the workforce, translating in job growth and economic development. These bills did not get voted out of their respective committees, but many of their provisions were included in Gov. Larry Hogan’s recently signed More Jobs for Marylanders Act (SB 317/HB 394).
HB 1050/SB 1065 (I-270/US 15 study completion)
This bill would have required the state to complete a review of the I-270/US 15 Multi-Modal Corridor, aiding in federal funding. The Chamber supported this bill because it would have helped determine how to reduce congestion, ease commerce, and create better economic development and job creation. Unfortunately, neither the House or the Senate bill made it out of committee.
HB 1483/SB 522 (income tax credits for internships)
This bill would create a tax credit for intern hiring for employers who otherwise couldn’t afford to hire interns. The Chamber supported this bill because it can be difficult for young people to find jobs without experience in their fields, and internships help. The Senate bill passed, but did not advance out of the House Rules Committee.
HB 1325/SB 740 (fracking ban)
The Chamber opposed this legislation simply because it would ban an entire industry based on speculation rather than violation or offense, which sends a negative message to all businesses thinking of expanding or relocating in the state. It’s bad policy to kill any otherwise legal business based on hypotheticals before any such business was conducted or any regulations were violated. Nonetheless, this bill passed and was signed into law.
HB 1614/SB 1116 & HB 1615/SB 1145 (mandatory schedule notification)
These bills would have required businesses to make sure every employee had their schedule a full three weeks before it was effective. They created penalties and fees for changing the schedule within three weeks or missing the deadline. The Chamber opposed these bills because they created unrealistic and costly mandates on businesses without considering the nature of certain businesses, especially the service and retail industries. None of the bills passed out of the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 229/SB 186 (polystyrene packaging prohibition)
This bill would ban polystyrene (more commonly known as Styrofoam) in the state. The Chamber opposed it because it would cost businesses more to comply, since other packaging materials are more expensive. This bill followed Montgomery County’s ban, which its own finance department reported would cause a $16.2 million decline in profits. This bill died in committee.
HB 639/SB 833 (“The Throwback Rule”)
This bill provides that a corporation is considered taxable for income, franchise, or corporate stock tax in the state if it meets certain criteria. The comptroller’s office calls it the “throwback rule” to determine whether sales are considered to have taken place in the state for the purposes of determining taxation. The Chamber opposed it because it institutes new taxes on businesses and is particularly damaging to small export-based companies. Additionally, the Maryland Business Tax Reform Commission, under Governor O’Malley, chose not to recommend its adoption in part because it effectively created a tax on product originators, thereby discouraging investment in Maryland. Both bills died in their original committee.
HB 214 (pregnancy or childbirth accommodation)
HB 214 based accommodation requirements on a new definition of what’s reasonable for conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. The bill declared that a reasonable accommodation at one time for one employee would be a reasonable accommodation at another time for another employee. Most of the other provisions are already expressly provided under state and federal law. For those reasons, the Chamber opposed the bill, which died in committee.