The Maryland General Assembly convened on January 9, 2019, for its annual 90-day legislative session. The Maryland Senate has 18 new members in its 47-member body. There are now 15 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the Senate. The Maryland House of Delegates has 43 new members in its 141-member body. There are 99 Democrats and 42 Republicans in the House of Delegates. It is important to note that both legislative bodies have enough Democrat votes to override any veto by Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
On January 18, 2019, Governor Hogan introduced his Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget bill. The proposed FY2020 budget is $46.6 billion, which represents a $1.8 billion (3.9%) increase over FY2019 spending. The Governor has proposed an increase of $1.6 billion (8.9%) to $19.5 billion for General Fund spending. The General Fund consists of any revenues collected by the State that are not dedicated by law to a specific purpose to include the Rainy Day Fund. The individual income tax, retail sales tax, and State Lottery are the three largest sources of General Fund revenue. Other sources include the corporate income tax and other business taxes, alcohol and tobacco taxes, and miscellaneous taxes and fees.
Governor Hogan has proposed tax relief for certain retirees, contributors to college savings plans, small businesses, companies locating in distressed areas, and individuals with student loan debt. These tax proposals would result in a revenue loss of $35 million in FY2020. By FY2024, the State revenue loss is estimated to grow to $138 million.
LEGISLATION OF INTEREST
1. House Bill 22 – Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Application Determinations – Use of Criminal History – This legislation would limit Maryland State agencies from denying applications for occupational licenses if 7 years have passed since a criminal conviction of an individual. This legislation does not apply to “crimes of violence.” The intent of this legislation is to encourage the employment of non-violent ex-offenders throughout Maryland. The hearing date was January 22nd in the House Economic Matters Committee.
2. House Bill 24 – Procurement – Public Works Contracts – Contractor Occupational and Health Requirements – This legislation would require contractors to submit a contractor safety and health plan when bidding on Maryland State contracts in excess of $100,000. IEC Chesapeake submitted written testimony in opposition because of the regulatory burden and additional costs the legislation would impose on contractors. The hearing date was January 24th in the House Economic Matters Committee.
3. House Bill 60 – Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation – Renaming – House Bill 60 would change the name of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) to the Department of Labor. The purpose of the bill is to simplify the name of this State agency. The hearing date was January 30th in the House Economic Matters Committee.
4. House Bill 72 – Extension of Electric Vehicle Incentives Act – This legislation would extend for another year tax credits for the use of electric vehicles. The hearing is scheduled for February 7th in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
5. House Bill 126 – Labor and Employment – Labor Organizations – Right to Work – This legislation would prohibit the requirement that as a condition of employment an employee would have to join a labor union and pay union dues. As representatives of merit shop contractors, IEC Chesapeake will submit testimony in support of House Bill 126. The hearing is scheduled for February 6th in the House Economic Matters Committee.
6. House Bill 166 – Labor and Employment – Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage and Enforcement (Fight for Fifteen) – This legislation would increase the Maryland State minimum wage to $15 per hour by July 1, 2023. Future minimum wage increases would be tied to increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The hearing is scheduled for February 8th in the House Economic Matters Committee.
7. Senate Bill 219 – Employers of Ex-Offenders – Liability for Negligent Hiring or Inadequate Supervision – Immunity – This legislation would grant immunity to certain employers who hire ex-offenders. IEC Chesapeake will submit testimony in support of this legislation. The hearing is scheduled for February 6th in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
8. Senate Bill 300 – Prevailing Wage Rates – Public Works Contracts – Suits by Employees – This legislation would allow employees to bypass DLLR and go directly to Circuit Court to file an action regarding the payment of prevailing wages on public work contracts in Maryland. IEC Chesapeake will oppose this legislation. The hearing is scheduled for February 13th in the Senate Finance Committee.
CREATION OF A STATE JOURNEYPERSON ELECTRICIAN LICENSE
IEC Chesapeake will once again lead the effort to create a State journeyperson electrician license. IEC Chesapeake is working with representatives from the low voltage industry, local governments, NECA, and ABC on this issue. The Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) has submitted House Bill 164 – Business Occupations and Professions – Licensing and Regulation of Electricians, which would create a statewide journeyperson electrician license. The hearing date is scheduled for February 6th in the House Economic Matters Committee.
Delegate Kevin Hornberger (R-Cecil County) is working on two bills: 1) a bill to address the need for a statewide journeyperson electrician license and 2) another bill to provide for a statewide license for low voltage workers. IEC Chesapeake is working with Delegate Hornberger and other stakeholders on his legislative proposals. It is yet to be determined how Delegate Hornberger’s proposals will affect House Bill 164. IEC Chesapeake is hoping that out of all of these proposals a statewide journeyperson electrician bill will be enacted.
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