The Maryland General Assembly convened its 2020 Session on January 8th. As noted last month, there are many changes in the legislative leadership and membership including a new Senate President, Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker, Adrienne Jones. In District 44, which includes Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Charles Sydnor has moved from the House of Delegates to the State Senate replacing former Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam who resigned. Sheila Ruth has been named to replace Charles Sydnor in the House of Delegates. In Baltimore County’s District 11, Delegate Shelly Hettleman has replaced Bobby Zirkin in the State Senate.
On January 15th, Governor Larry Hogan introduced a $47.9 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The focus of the Governor’s budget is on violent crime reduction, education, and economic development. The Governor’s proposed budget increases spending by 1%, does not raise taxes, or cut services. The FY2021 budget includes a record $7.3 billion for education plus $733 million for school construction. In addition, the Governor’s budget includes more than $350 million for initiatives coming from the Kirwan Commission Recommendation.
IEC Chesapeake will monitor and comment, as necessary, on budget issues relating to any proposed tax increases, policy and/or budget issues that would affect the electrical industry.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEGISLATION OF INTEREST
1) Senate Bill 16 – Business Occupations and Professions – Master Electricians Guaranty Fund-Establishment: On January 22nd, Kevin O’Keeffe and Grant Shmelzer testified against SB16 in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. This legislation calls for imposition of a fee up to $150 on each master electrician license in order to create a fund to provide compensation for acts or omissions by master electricians. It is anticipated that SB16 will not pass.
2) Senate Bill 157 – Employers of Ex-Offenders-Liability-Immunity: On January 28th, Kevin O’Keeffe joined a coalition of business organizations and advocates for ex-offenders to testify in support of SB157 which would provide immunity for employers who hire ex-offenders in certain industries, including the construction industry.
3) House Bill 163 – Labor and Employment-Labor Organizations-Right to Work: On February 4th, IEC Chesapeake submitted written testimony in support of HB163 which would enact Right to Work legislation in Maryland. HB163 has been introduced by Delegate Warren Miller for many years. The House Economic Matters Committee will probably once again fail to pass Right to Work legislation.
4) House Bill 123 – Labor and Employment-Wage History and Wage Range: On February 4th, IEC Chesapeake submitted written testimony in opposition to HB123 which would insert government into the setting of wages and sharing of wage history of prospective employees. IEC Chesapeake believes that the setting of wages and the sharing of wage information should be free from government intervention. In addition, there are civil penalties of up to $5,000 associated with the violation of this proposed legislation.
5) Senate Bill 133 – Education –High School Students-Graduation and Attendance Credit for Vocational Training: On February 4th, IEC Chesapeake submitted written testimony in support of SB133 which authorizes county Boards of Education to award credit toward a high school diploma or a post-secondary credential for one vocational course per semester in a career and technical education program.
6) Electrician Licensing Bill: Delegate Kevin Hornberger and Senator Cory McCray are expected to introduce legislation to create a statewide journeyperson electrician license. This legislation has been introduced many times over the past decade. IEC Chesapeake will once again work closely with the sponsors to address issues relating to establishing a new statewide license and issues relating to the licensing of low voltage workers. Another issue that always arises in this legislation is the role of local licensing departments and electrical boards of counties and municipalities.
BALTIMORE CITY PROJECT LABOR AGREMENT LEGISLATION
On January 27th, the Baltimore City Council introduced 20-0488 Construction Projects-Project Labor Agreements. This legislation would require all Baltimore City public works projects meeting a certain monetary threshold in public funds to be subject to pre-hire collective bargaining agreements. The requirements of this proposed legislation would apply to construction projects of $25 million or more and long-term capital improvements at multiple locations if the aggregated costs of these project improvements total $15 million or more. Thirteen out of fifteen Council members are sponsoring this legislation. IEC Chesapeake will work with the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABE) and the Maryland Minority Contractors Association (MMCA) to oppose this legislation.
NFIB/IEC CHESAPEAKE LEGISLATIVE DAY
On Tuesday, February 11th, NFIB Maryland will host its 2020 Maryland Small Business Day from 8am to 2pm in Room 180 of the Maryland House Office Building. IEC Chesapeake will once again partner with NFIB Maryland.