General Assembly Convenes for Annual Legislative Session

Date: January 06, 2022

Here are three big issues for Small Business

The Maryland General Assembly will convene next week for their annual 90-day legislative session. It begins Wednesday, January 12 and will run until Monday, April 11. This session will mark the final of the four-year term that began in 2018. This also means it is the final session before all 188 seats in both the House and Senate are up for election in November.

Small businesses will have a stake in a number of bills throughout the session. Here are three major issues NFIB members need to be aware of:

Paid Family Leave Insurance – labor activists have once again introduced legislation to create a paid family leave insurance program that will be funded in part by employer contributions. Workers would be guaranteed up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a variety of reasons including the birth of a child or the illness of a family member. Employers of all sizes would fall under the program if they cannot certify they offer a leave benefit of equal value and under identical circumstances. Only self-employed indivduals would have the option to participate. The bill has been prefiled (House Bill 8) and awaits consideration in the House Economic Matters Committee. NFIB anticipates the bill will be crossfiled in the senate.

Unemployment Insurance – NFIB secured a big victory last year for small business owners with the passage of Senate Bill 811. The legislation lowers the unemployment insurance tax tables from Table F to Table C for 2022 and 2023. Further, another law passed last year guarantees any experience rating charges from 2020 will not impact their tax rates. This was done in light of the government mandated shutdowns and capacity restrictions which in turn forced layoffs and furloughs.

This year, however, labor activists will seek to increase UI taxes on rate payers by changing the taxable wage base calculations and increasing the maximum weekly benefit amount for claimants. NFIB remains committed to partnering with the legislature on ways to keep workers off of the unemployment rolls instead of increasing the costs of the program.

Minimum Wage – Nearly three years ago, the General Assembly passed a statewide $15 minimum wage over the objections of small business owners. During negotiations, lawmakers set forth a schedule of annual increases allowing employers to gradually meet the demands of the higher minimum wage. But lawmakers are likely to consider a bill this session to speed up the phase-in to $15 and upend the hard fought compromise. NFIB will oppose any efforts to do so.

As mentioned, there are likely to be other issues impacting small businesses during the session. Your Maryland team will keep you apprised of them and ask for your input as needed. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.

Related Content: Small Business News | Maryland

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