Maryland Legislative Forecast 2019

Maryland will once again be governed under the executive leadership of Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.  Following his historic victory in November, Governor Hogan became only the second Republican Governor of Maryland in nearly 50 years. 

While the state will remain under the governance of a Republican Governor, Maryland’s General Assembly will retain a stronger Democratic dominance in both the House and Senate Chambers.  In total, the state legislature will witness a nearly 40% turnover of new lawmakers, predominantly made up by progressive democrats.  The surge of progressive lawmakers in the legislature (and in leadership) will ultimately result in an aggressive “push” for more liberal-leaning public policy agenda.  This could include perennial legislation, such as the “Fight for Fifteen” Minimum Wage Increase and “Restrictive” Scheduling, which would impact PGAMA and businesses, statewide. 

If you may recall, the Fight for Fifteen would mandate an increase in the state’s minimum wage to fifteen dollars ($15.00) over a period of time.  Restrictive” Scheduling would mandate certain employers to provide their employees a set work schedule 21 days in advance.  Should a schedule be modified, resulting in an impact against the employee, an employer would be required to provide additional compensation to the employee.  While these bills have not yet been introduced, PGAMA anticipates these bills to be reintroduced this year.  Moreover, PGAMA anticipates the re-introduction of legislation, including Pay Scales and Wage History Information, Association Healthcare Plans, and public policy directed toward workforce development, adult learning, and registered apprenticeships.

In the weeks leading up to the commencement of 2019 session, PGAMA began to review the list of pre-filed bills by members in the House and Senate.  Over 120 bills have already been introduced, with many having the potential to be of interest for PGAMA’s monitoring and advocacy throughout 90-day session. 

Criminal Expungements:

Thus far, three criminal expungement bills have been filed in the House Chamber, these include House Bill 13, 16, and 19.  Both House Bill 13 and 16, would permit an individual to petition the court for a partial expungement under specific circumstances.  House Bill 19 would authorize a person to file a petition for expungement of a certain record if the person was convicted of a nonviolent crime.

Corporate Income Tax – Reduction:

Senate Bill 37, entitled Corporate Income Tax – Rate Reduction, would reduce the State income tax rate on the Maryland taxable income of corporations over a period of time.  If passed, the State income taxable rate on corporations’ taxable income would be reduced to seven percent (7%) after the year 2020.

Sick Leave – Modification:

PGAMA (and its members) are not unfamiliar with the controversial legislation, known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.  Following Governor Hogan’s veto in the Spring of 2017, the General Assembly overrode the veto during the early weeks of the 2018 session – the law took effect 90-days thereafter.  The law generated debate between employees, the business community, and legislators on both sides of the aisle and remains a sensitive topic in Annapolis. 

Despite many in disagreement with various provisions in the law, both sides agree that it needs further modifications - Senate Bill 38 is reopening that discussion this year.  If passed Senate Bill 38 would exempt, from certain provisions of the law, specific employees who regularly work at facilities at which the employers offer the employees access to certain on-site health clinics. 

Should any of these bills (and/or others) begin to move forward, PGAMA will take positions and possibly seek membership “Call to Action” in Annapolis. 

One of the new initiatives PGAMA has developed is a legislative conference call for members. Alexander & Cleaver’s Government Relations’ team will provide their unique insight and expertise as to various issues that they anticipate to encounter on behalf of our industry and clients.  We strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to hear from these consultants and have a Q &A session at the conclusion of the call.  The first day of the session begins on Wednesday, January 9th, so be on the lookout for a follow notification regarding the details on how to participate on the conference call.   

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