HB1 Committee Meeting and Q&A

HB1 Committee Meeting and Q&A

Among the topics deliberated at last week's Public Affairs and Policy Committee meeting were House Bill 1(HB1), the Baltimore City Styrofoam Ban, and the 2018 Chamber of Commerce Legislative Reception.

Monday, November 20, 2017 — During last week’s meeting, the Public Affairs and Policy Committee discussed a catalogue of hot-button issues that are currently impacting the city of Baltimore. Among the topics deliberated were House Bill 1(HB1), the Baltimore City Styrofoam Ban, and the 2018 Chamber of Commerce Legislative Reception. All three matters are poised to impact the vitality of the Baltimore City business community, and are certainly deserving of the public’s attention.

Veteran board member and public policy advocate, Hal Resnick, addressed House Bill 1 and what it means for the Greater Baltimore Area. The bill was originally passed in the 2017 Session of the General Assembly and subsequently vetoed by Governor Hogan. Several parts of this Act that require mandatory paid leave are viewed by many as potentially harmful to small business. The 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 and, more than likely, vote to override Governor Hogan’s veto of HB1.  A vote of three-fifths (60%) of both the Senate and the House of Delegates are required to override the veto, but a vote of 40% of either house will sustain the veto.

We had the chance to sit down with Hal, who offered the following guidance and insight on the implications of this legislature:

1. What is HB1: Labor & Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act?

This Act was passed in the 2017 Session of the General Assembly and subsequently vetoed by Governor Hogan. Several parts of this Act that require mandatory paid leave are viewed by many as potentially harmful to small business. (Most large businesses already include paid leave as part of their benefits packages.) From the perspective of small business, the following are of key importance.

  • Employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide paid sick and safe leave at the same wage rate as each employee normally earns; employers with 14 or less employees are required to provide unpaid sick and safe leave
    • Maryland employers should consider (1) the cost of this requirement and (2) the potential effect on the employer’s competitiveness
  • To be eligible for paid sick and safe leave, an employee must “regularly” work 12 hours per week based upon a “normal” work week
    • Maryland employers with their own established leave policies should consider the added complexity and administrative cost required to “layer on” this State mandated leave requirement
  • Maryland counties and Baltimore City are prohibited from passing their own mandated paid leave laws. However, Montgomery County is exempt because it already has passed its own mandated paid leave law
    • Maryland employers doing business in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the State should consider the operational and administrative effects of compliance with different local laws
  • The failure of an employer to comply with the requirements of this Act carries substantial penalties
    • Maryland employers that fail to comply with the Act, either unintentionally or otherwise may be subject to penalties including economic damages, civil penalties, and punitive damages

2. When will the General Assembly be voting on this issue?

The 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. Given the interest and controversy surrounding HB1, it is likely that the vote to override Governor Hogan’s veto of HB1 will take place shortly thereafter. A vote of three-fifths (60%) of both the Senate and the House of Delegates are required to override the veto. A vote of 40% of either house will sustain the veto.

3. How can City Chamber members contact their elected officials to voice their support of, or opposition to HB1?

A complete list of the members of the General Assembly is available at http://www.mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmmain.aspx?pid=legisrpage&tab=subject6. Click the “Who represents me?” icon on the upper right to locate the Senator and Delegates for your district.

In addition, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce has identified those senators that have committed to sustaining Governor Hogan’s veto.

Please see this list in the PDF attachment below. 

City Chamber members who prefer to have the veto sustained should contact one or more of those senators (whether or not they are in your District) and encourage their continued support. Any other senator who you believe would be in agreement with your position should be contacted as well.