Maryland 2015 Session Review

Date: September 02, 2015

Related Content: Issues State Maryland

The 2015 Maryland General Assembly legislative session wrapped up at midnight on Monday April 13. Under the leadership of Governor Larry Hogan, it was a much better year for the small business community in Annapolis.  Below you can learn more about the outcome of the key pieces of legislation that NFIB worked on during the 2015 session:

Passed:

Rain Tax - SB 588

Outcome: Passed, waiting on the Governor’s Signature

Position: Supported

Summary:  The bill will repeal state-mandated stromwater fees, but still requires that local officials prove that they can pay to meet the federal requirements of the Clean Water Act.  Counties will need to report a five-year projection of costs and revenues, including specifying funding sources, for permit compliance to the Maryland Department of the Environment. This means that nine counties and Baltimore City will still have the option to charge the rain tax.

Stop Loss Self-Funding InsuranceHB 552

Outcome: Passed, waiting on Governor’s Signature

Position: Opposed

Summary: This bill makes fundamental changes to the Maryland law regulating stop-loss insurance by changing the point at which stop-loss insurance takes over from $10,000 to $22,500, in the event that an employee's health expenses are far higher than anticipated. As a result self-insurance will be more expensive and is now a less attractive option for Maryland small businesses. The bill also increases the aggregated attachment from the current 115% of expected claims to 120% which increases potential liability for small employers who wish to use a stop-loss insurance policy

2.5 Year Fracking BanHB 449

Outcome: Passed, waiting on Governor’s Signature

Position: Opposed

Summary: The General Assembly passed legislation that forbids drilling wells until October 2017, and also requires Maryland to enact regulations to monitor fracking. The original draft of this bill called for an eight-year ban, but was diluted resulting in a veto-proof majority vote.  At the time of print, the governor’s position on the bill is unknown, but NFIB is encouraging a veto.

Supported:

Gas Tax Relief - SB 589 / HB 483

Outcome: Dead

Position: Supported

Summary: backed by Governor Hogan, the "Motorist Tax Relief" bill would repeal a requirement that gas tax rates be adjusted in future years based on growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Opposed:

Mandated Paid Leave - SB 40 / HB 385

Outcome: Delayed until next year

Position: Opposed

Summary: House and Senate leadership announced that legislation that would mandate businesses provide paid leave to employees will not pass this session. Instead leadership is encouraging groups on both sides of the fight to work out difference during the summer. Mandatory paid leave legislation would require employers with 10 or more employees to provide one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, among other things. It's almost guaranteed based on leadership's statement that there will be a push to pass some form of mandated paid leave next session. We encourage members to continue to contact your legislators about this issue. Summer is a great time to schedule a meeting with your elected representatives, while they are home in the district. 

“Fair Scheduling” - HB 969 / SB 688

Outcome: Died in Committee

Position: Opposed

Summary: would put restrictions on how employers handle scheduling employees by requiring a scheduled notice 21 days in advance and charging employers to pay employees for changes to the schedule if they occur within those 21 days, plus additional tedious requirements.  Learn more and

“Equal pay for equal work” - HB 1051 / SB 424

Outcome: Unfavorable Report

Position: Opposed

Summary: would impose enormous burdens and risks on employers; devalue important factors in establishing wages, such as training, education, and skill; and expand litigation opportunities for plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking millions of dollars from employers without even having to prove that a business intentionally discriminated against women.

Fracking Liability - SB 458

Outcome:  Dead

Position: Opposed

Summary: would establish some of the harshest liability standards for fracking in the country.  

Ag Sales Tax Exemption - HB 928

Outcome: Died in Committee

Position: Opposed

Summary: would repeal the tax exemption that exists in current law for the purchase of inputs for farm operations. 

Chicken Tax - HB 886 /SB 533

Outcome: Unfavorable Report

Position: Opposed

Summary: would create a five cent tax on every chicken grown in Maryland.  If passed, Maryland would be the only state that charges a tax on chickens.

Tanning Ban - HB 56 / SB 152 

Outcome: Unfavorable Report

Position: Opposed

Summary: would have banned all minors under 18 years old from using tanning devices.

Food Allergy Awareness - HB 751

Outcome: Unfavorable Report

Position: Opposed

Summary: would have impacted all restaurants or food-related business that provides seating for customers. It’s expected that a harsher version of this legislation will reappear during the 2016 session.

Baltimore City Minimum Wage Hike - HB 4

Outcome: Unfavorable Report

Position: Opposed

Summary: originally a state-wide bill amended and passed by the Baltimore City delegation would have gradually raised Baltimore City’s minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by Oct. 1, 2017.  A majority of the Baltimore City delegation supported raising the minimum wage, and may try to push this next year.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted their legislators, written testimony and/or testified in Annapolis. Legislators value your input on these bills and your correspondence does make a difference, so please keep up the good work next session.  If you would like additional information on these bills or would like to become involved in our efforts, please contact Miranda Bond miranda.bond@nfib.org.

 






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