The Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO has more than 600 affiliated local unions, representing 340,000 union members in public sector, education, trades and construction, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, health care, retail, hospitality, and other industries. We work to strengthen and build unions, for the right of all people to be free from employment discrimination, to be treated fairly, to earn family sustaining wages with secured retirement and affordable health care, and to be safe at work. Our focus includes: Investing taxpayer dollars in building and repairing our infrastructure and schools; creating good family-supporting jobs with benefits and job protections; maintaining and building good jobs at home by reindustrializing the Maryland economy and redoubling efforts for worker protections; ensuring fair tax policies, transparency, and accountability in spending public tax dollars; protecting public education and public service workers so that they can continue to provide the highest value and level of support to Marylanders; and ending wage theft through protecting and enforcing current labor laws.
The State Fed Headquarters was the hub of labor and activists’ activities during the 2019 General Assembly. The weekly Monday Night Labor Lobbyists meetings were well attended by a cross section of labor leaders and activists representing all sectors of labor affiliations. The State Fed educated attendees and facilitated discussion on bills and issues impacting workers in Maryland. Individual unions presented legislation keeping the broader labor community educated and involved in issues impacting certain sectors of labor. Most legislation has some impact on a cross-section of workers. Lobby nights also engaged strategies for moving bills through committees and identifying legislators to target for direct lobbying in favor of labor’s position on the bills. The State Fed participated in and hosted a number of coalitions steering legislation. Most notably among these was the successful “Fight for Fifteen” coalition, led by 1199SEIU and joined by several unions and community groups.
During the 2019 Maryland General Assembly Session, we monitored over 545 bills including the Operational Budget and the Capital Budget. We submitted testimony and testified before legislative committees on 123 bills. Together, labor worked to get 23 bills passed for our unions while only 1 bill passed that we opposed.
Labor’s success on advocating for our bills and opposing anti-worker bills is due to the State Fed’s daily visibility and interactions with legislators and the grassroots lobbying efforts of unions. Leaders and members spent hours in hearings and visiting legislators to make Labor’s voice heard on our issues. Union members were visibly present and testifying at bill hearings and lobbying House and Senate committees. On several days, with high profile labor bills in hearings, there was a sea of union members in the chambers’ hallways, offices, and hearing rooms.
General Assembly Leadership
The first order of business with each new annual session is the election of the Senate and House leadership. Mike Miller was elected Senate President for the 33rd time, and he is the longest serving Senate President in United States history. Mike Busch was elected Speaker of the House of Delegates for the 16th time, making him the longest serving Speaker in Maryland history, and one of the longest serving Speakers in the nation.
Both Leaders announced their struggle with severe health problems early in the session. The President Pro Tempore and the Speaker Pro Tempore presided over several days of General Assembly floor sessions, while both Leaders convalesced. Unfortunately, On April 7th, 2019, the day before Sine Die (the end of the Legislative Session), Speaker Michael E. Busch, passed away. He was the longest serving Speaker in Maryland history, holding the office from 2003 until his passing. Speaker Busch was first elected to the House in 1986, serving on the House Environmental Matters Committee, eventually becoming Chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, prior to being elected Speaker. He is well-known for his impact on the All-payer hospital system and health care, supporting marriage equality, and protecting the Bay. This session he was focused on protecting reproductive rights for women, raising the minimum wage, and increasing education funding.
2019 Session Statistics
During the 2019 regular session of the General Assembly legislators introduced a total of 2,481 bills and 18 resolutions. The Senate originated 1,051 bills and 5 resolutions and the House originated 1,430 bills and 13 resolutions. Of those introduced, 864 bills and 2 resolutions were passed. 5 bills were passed in session, vetoed by the Governor, and the legislature overrode all 5 of his vetoes.
The 439th session of the General Assembly of Maryland convened January 9, marking the firstyear of the four-year 2019 – 2023 elected term for 47 Senators and 141 Delegates. The 2018 Election resulted in 43 seats in the House of Delegates and 18 seats in the Senate being held by first time legislators with the exception of a handful of Senators who served previously in the House. Over one-third of the General Assembly was new to their elected position in the 2019 Legislative Session. Committees also changed composition with 8 first-time Chairs and 7 first-time Vice Chairs.
The Operating Budget for FY 2020 (compiled from the “90 Day Report”)
House Bill 100 (enacted) provides $46.6 billion in appropriations for FY 2020 – an increase of $1.8 billion (4.0%) above FY 2019.
Education was the focus of the 2019 session, as legislators sought to establish funding for the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (a.k.a. the Kirwan Commission). Providing $500.0 million for school construction was also a session priority. For FY 2020, operating budget action either restricted or authorized a total of $255.7 million to begin implementing preK-12 funding enhancements. Separate legislation proposed increased spending of $356.2 million in FY 2021 and $501.2 million in FY 2022 (in part, contingent on additional revenues to be enacted in the 2019 or 2020 sessions). The operating and capital budgets also combined to meet the school construction goal by providing $500.6 million, with $170.5 million in the operating budget
In December 2018, the Spending Affordability Committee (SAC) projected a FY 2020 structural general fund shortfall of $18 million and recommended that this deficit be fully resolved in the 2019 session. The budget introduced by the Governor for FY 2020 failed to eliminate the entire structural shortfall, leaving a shortfall of $64 million. Legislative action on the budget was made more challenging by a revenue write-down of $268.5 million across FY 2019 and 2020, largely related to a trend of lower estimated income tax payments.
While the State’s FY position is positive in FY 2019 and 2020, the outlook is less favorable in the out-years. A cash shortfall of approximately $900 million is forecast in FY 2021 and is expected to grow to $1.6 billion by FY 2024. Absent one-time spending, the forecast of ongoing general fund revenue and spending shows a structural deficit of nearly $1.0 billion in FY 2021, growing to $1.5 billion by FY 2024.
General fund spending accounts for 41.6% of the total budget. Federal funds support 28.2% of all spending. Special funds constitute 19.9% of the budget with higher education revenue providing the remaining 10.2%. State agency operations constitute the largest area of spending, accounting for 41.0% of the total budget. Entitlements represent 27.3% of the budget, and 19.8% is provided as aid to local governments. Remaining appropriations fund pay-as-you-go
(PAYGO) capital spending, debt service on State general obligation (GO) bonds, and an appropriation to the Rainy-Day Fund.
General fund appropriations increase by nearly $1.5 billion, or 8.4%, over the FY 2019 working appropriation. The $498.8 million increase in the appropriation to the Rainy Day Fund accounts for nearly one-third of the total general fund budget growth and brings the Rainy Day
Fund balance to 6.0% of general fund revenues. Although spending on general fund PAYGO projects account for less than 1.2% of the total general fund budget, the availability of additional cash resources in FY 2020 and the recommendation of SAC that cash resources be directed to one-time expenses provided for a $172.3 million increase over the amount of general fund PAYGO projects funded in FY 2019. This increase included an additional $127 million for school construction and $25.0 million used for projects that would have otherwise been funded with taxable debt at a higher cost to the State.
Medicaid funding decreased by a net $235.1 million due to declining enrollment, a reduction in calendar 2019 managed care organization (MCO) rates, and a lower federal matching rate for the Affordable Care Act expansion population and the Maryland Children’s Health Program.
Aid to local governments, primarily in the form of education aid, accounts for 36.7% of total general fund spending in FY 2020; an overall increase of $388.3 million over the current FY year. Education aid provided through K-12 education formulas, such as the Foundation
Program, Compensatory Education, and student transportation grants, accounts for 90.8% of the total growth in local aid. Funding for State agency operations increases at a rate of 4.6%, providing a total spending increase of $326.5 million. Net changes to employee compensation, including a 3% general salary increase for all State employees and a 5% increase for law enforcement union members, account for $186.2 million. Additional funding in the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) provides $52.9 million for a provider rate increase and to expand access and utilization of services.
Special funds grow by a net $115.1 million, or 1.3%, compared to the FY 2019 working appropriation. In FY 2020, the General Assembly identified $150.3 million in special funds to be used toward education spending priorities for SB 1030, The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (passed). Growth in operating expenses for the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) bus and rail operations also account for the majority of the $60.8 million increase in the special fund appropriation for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). GO bond debt service also accounts for $51.0 million of the increase.
Federal fund spending increases by a modest $57.1 million, or 0.4%. The most significant area of growth is the $207.5 million in additional federal PAYGO funds for capital projects, including $160.7 million for transportation projects, such as MTA’s Purple Line and various projects within the State Highway Administration. There is also a $48.3 million increase in the
Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), primarily due to provider rate increases and higher utilization of substance use disorder services.
The size of the regular State workforce decreases by 81 positions to 80,863 regular positions in FY 2020. Effective July 1, 2019, a 3% general salary increase is provided for most State employees; however, select law enforcement positions will receive a 5% general salary increase. If FY 2019 general fund revenues exceed December 2018 forecasted levels by at least $75 million, State employees will also receive a 1.0% general salary increase effective January 1, 2020. Ongoing concern regarding the growing number of vacant positions in Executive Branch agencies combined with serious understaffing for critical classes of positions, particularly correctional officers, resulted in a SAC recommendation to provide a one-grade salary increase for correctional officer salaries and to encourage the Administration to fill vacant positions in understaffed agencies immediately.
In summary, FY 2018 closed with a fund balance of $589.6 million in the General Fund, reflecting significant over attainment as FY 2018 revenues finished the year nearly $340 million (2.0%) above the estimate. This was the result of higher than anticipated collections from the personal income tax, primarily due to large capital gains realizations, along with sales tax collections exceeding estimates by over $34 million.
Maryland’s employment growth decelerated in calendar 2017 and 2018, but the positive revenue performance at the close of FY 2018 and increases in wage income in the first half of 2018 resulted in the Board of Revenue Estimates (BRE) revising its general fund revenue forecast for FY 2019 upward by a net $313.2 million between its September and December 2018 meetings. Year-to-date economic performance and revised economic assumptions also led the board to marginally reduce the FY 2020 general fund revenue outlook by $55.3 million. However, in its December 2018 report, the board cautioned that monetary and FY policies at the federal level and the steep trajectory of revenues relative to the real economy highlighted the potential risk for a recession in the near future.
Vetoes and Veto Overrides
Multiple bills were vetoed by the Governor, following the 2018 Legislative Session, including the bill that would have allowed skilled trades workers to sue for wage theft and the bill that would have required at least two crewmembers to serve on freight train that shares track with passenger trains. The Maryland Constitution dictates than any bills vetoed during Gubernatorial Election year are not eligible for a veto override by the General Assembly, in the following Legislative Session. Therefore, no action could be taken on any gubernatorial vetoes that occurred after the 2018 session was complete, but labor’s bills were re-introduced this session.
On March 27 – During the 2019 Legislative Session – Governor Hogan vetoed four bills, and the General Assembly immediately moved to override all of them during Session, enacting them into law.
- HB 166 (SB 280) – Fight for Fifteen gradually increases the minimum wage in Maryland until it reaches $15/hour by January 1, 2025. Businesses with 14 employees or less have until July 1, 2016 to meet the deadline. Additionally, tipped workers receive no increase, farm workers are exempted, and there is no indexing for inflation. Board of Public Works (BPW) may temporarily suspend and increase to the minimum wage rate, only once, if it determines that adjusted total employment is negative and the performance of State revenues in the previous 6 months justify temporarily suspending an increase to the minimum wage rate. The minimum wage in effect for the period beginning the following January 1 must be the same as the rate that was in effect for the preceding 12-month period. The remaining minimum wage rate increases then take effect one-year later than the date specified.
- HB 1052 – Alcohol and Tobacco Commission removes the Field Enforcement duties and responsibilities from the office of the Comptroller and vests them within the newly formed Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
- SB 128 – Community Control of School Calendars Act rescinds Governor Hogan’s Executive Order that mandated all Maryland schools start the day after Labor Day and end by the 15th of June. SB 128 allows local school boards to control their own calendars of operation.
- HB 298 –Oysters – Tributary-Scale Sanctuaries – Protection and Restoration sets aside five oyster sanctuaries (in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River, and the Manokin River), and prohibits catching oysters in, or removing oyster seed from, these sanctuaries.
Following the 2019 Legislative Session, on May 24, 2019, Governor Hogan vetoed 8 bills, 3 of which were high-priority pieces of legislation for the State Fed and our Affiliates.
- HB 891 (SB 289) – State Personnel – Grievance Procedures removes an ambiguous section of the code that suggests that an employee may not file a grievance under the current system if they are covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that contains its own dispute procedure. It allow issues regarding the interpretation and application of a collective bargaining agreement, or MOU, to be heard through the grievance procedure and allows the Exclusive Representative to file a grievance on its own behalf or on behalf of its member
- HB 66 (SB 252) – Railroad Company – Movement of Freight – Required Crew for public safetyprohibits a freight train that shares the same rail corridor as a high-speed passenger or commuter train from being operated in the state unless it has at least two crew members. The same bill was passed by the legislature in 2018 and was vetoed by the Governor.
- HB 994 (SB 839) – Labor and Employment – Criminal Record Screening Practices (Ban the Box) prohibits employers with 15 or more full-time workers from requiring a job applicant to disclose their criminal record, prior to the first in-person interview with the prospective job seeker. It also allows for certain exceptions to this law for employers who work with children or who are required by federal law to collect the information as part of the application process.
Expanding and Supporting Organizing, and Collective Bargaining
Developing new opportunities to support our unions in their efforts organize and build is a goal of the State Fed. President Edwards is always seeking avenues to amend or submit legislation that creates a more fertile ground for unions to organize. This session saw the first adoption in a bill (SB 516) of “Good Jobs” language written by President Edwards. The definition is: “A job with family-sustaining wages, employer-provided health care with affordable deductions and co-pays, career advancement training, fair scheduling, employer-paid workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, a retirement plan, paid time off, and the right to collectively bargain.” It is the intention of the State Federation to push this language on every bill that uses any taxpayer money to provide grants to businesses with the promise of “job creation”, to ensure that the money Maryland takes from workers – in the form of taxes – is not used to create low-road jobs with no benefits. Taxpayer funded job creation should have one goal: Good jobs, with an opportunity to organize.
SB 516 (HB 1158) – Clean Energy Jobs (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) The State Federation led a labor coalition including US, SMART-TD, IBEW 24, WBBT, and LiUNA in working with the House and Senate sponsors to accept all of labor’s amendments in an attempt to develop high road good jobs in the clean energy industries of solar and wind. The labor coalition worked with sponsors to protect existing jobs while creating opportunities for increased unionization in the clean energy industries. Specifics of the union amendments passed are:
- Money from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund to provide grants to businesses be distributed only for the creation of jobs that fit the “Good Jobs” language noted earlier.
- Money from the Clean Energy Workforce Account to fund Apprenticeships must use “Made in America” products
- Requires PLAs for off shore wind projects
- Defines Community Benefits in accordance with NBTA standards
- Expands definition of “Clean Energy Industries” to include Building and Trade Associations
- Requires the Power Plant Research Program to conduct a study measuring the impact a 100% RPS will have on current workers and local and state economies.
SB 433 (HB 680) – State Procurement - State Funded Construction Projects – Payment of Employee Health Care Expenses (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) requires all bidders, contractors, and subcontractors on State-funded construction projects to pay a portion of their employees’ health care expenses if they employ 31 or more employees. The bill exempts minority business enterprises or businesses with 30 or fewer workers.
HB 270 (SB 491) – Higher Education – Collective Bargaining – Graduate Assistants (Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act) (FAILED) provides collective bargaining rights to Graduate Students in the University System of Maryland, St. Mary’s College, and Morgan State University. It passed the House, but Senate Finance Committee did not vote on the bill.
HB 540 (SB 511) – Cecil County – Correctional Deputy Sheriffs – Collective Bargaining (ENACTED) expands collective bargaining to Correctional Officers under the Sheriff’s Office.
HB 548 – Collective Bargaining – Student Athletes (FAILED) requires the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board to adopt regulations authorizing and establishing the process for collective bargaining for student athletes who participate in intercollegiate athletic programs. The bill focused on CB rights for workplace safety, medical care, and ownership of an athlete’s likeness. The bill was ultimately withdrawn by the sponsor for lack of support. Student athletes have no explicit rights in statute beyond those granted to all students, yet they disproportionately put themselves at risk and attract a huge portion of a school’s revenue.
HB 766 – Education – Community Colleges – Collective Bargaining (FAILED) established a collective bargaining process for local community college and Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) employees including full-time faculty, part-time faculty, and staff, but excluding officers, supervisory or confidential employees, and student assistants. AFSCME 67, AFSCME 3, AFT-MD, CWA 2100, and SEIU 500 currently represent certain community college workers in Maryland. The bill was heard the House Appropriations Committee and was eventually withdrawn by the sponsors. This is the sixth year that this legislation has been introduced. There was no vote in either committee in 2018 or 2017.
HB 767 – Collective Bargaining – Chancellor of the University System of Maryland – Negotiations (FAILED) simplifies the collective bargaining process in the University System of Maryland by allowing the exclusive representative, AFSCME, to negotiate directly with the Chancellor, instead of with each institution, individually, on multiple contracts that ultimately need to be approved by the Chancellor. The bill requires the Chancellor and the exclusive representative to negotiate a consolidated agreement and streamlines the collective bargaining process.
HB 1143 – Higher Education – Collective Bargaining – Tenured Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, and Graduate Student Employees (FAILED) provides collective bargaining rights to tenured, adjunct, and graduate student faculty at institutions at University System of Maryland, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Morgan State University, and BCCC. It received a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee, but was never taken up for a vote.
HB 126 – Labor and Employment – Labor Organizations – Right to Work (FAILED) repeals various provisions of State law that authorize an employer to require an employee pay a fee (service, maintenance, or representative fee) to a labor organization. Unions from throughout the State came together and voiced unified opposition. The State Federation submitted testimony from 27 unions and had two panels of union leaders testify orally against HB 126, in a strong unified message of solidarity. The bill was voted down in the Economic Matters Committee, on a strict Party-line vote, with two Delegates being excused. This is the ninth year, in a row, that Delegate Warren Miller (District 9A) has introduced a “Right to Work” bill in the General Assembly.
In addition to the introduction of workplace safety protections, a multitude of bills were introduced that would have either strengthened or attempted to weaken job security for workers.
SB 328 (HB 38) – Labor and Employment – Noncompete and Conflict of Interest Clauses (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) establishes that a worker earning $31,200/year or less, cannot be bound by a Noncompete or conflict of interest clause from their employer.
HB 734 (SB 689) – Criminal Law – Labor Trafficking (Anti-Exploitation Act of 2019) (ENACTED) establishes the offense of labor trafficking as a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 25 years and/or a $15,000 maximum fine. It also empowers either a State’s Attorney or the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute a violation of the bill. If the Attorney General exercises this authority, the Attorney General has all the powers and duties of a State’s Attorney to investigate and prosecute the violation.
HB 822 (SB 711) – University System of Maryland – Regular Employees – Grievance Procedures and Disciplinary Actions (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) provides professional full-time and part-time employees within the University System of Maryland workplace protections against being disciplined or fired without following a grievance procedure. Prior to the passage of HB 822, these workers were considered “at-will”, and could be subject to capricious and arbitrary discipline.
HB 790 – Equal Pay for Equal Work – Enforcement – Civil Penalties (Equal Pay Remedies and Enforcement Act) (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) attempts to strengthen compliance and enforcement by authorizing the Commissioner of Labor and Industry or a court to require an employer who violates the Equal Pay for Equal Work Law – two or more times within a 3-year period – to pay a civil penalty equal to 10% of the amount of damages owed by that employer. The civil penalty is paid into the State’s General Fund, to offset the cost of enforcement of the Act. Under current law and employer who violates certain provisions of the Equal Pay for Equal Work law is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine up to $300.
HB 1107 (SB 518) – Discrimination in Employment – Pregnancy and Childbirth (FAILED) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and those who have limitations due to childbirth. It applies to job applicants, as well, to eliminate pregnancy and childbirth related discrimination in hiring practices. The bill was heard in the House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, but was not taken up for a vote in either.
SB 66 – Labor and Employment – Occupational Safety and Health – Enforcement of Regulations (FAILED) authorizes the Commissioner of Labor to suspend, delay, or alter enforcement of a State Occupational Safety and Health regulation if the Federal government has changed how they handle the corresponding Federal regulation. This bill put in by Governor Hogan and DLLR. It received no vote in Senate Finance.
HB 24 – Procurement – Public Work Contracts – Contractor Occupational Safety and Health Requirements (FAILED) requires a contractor, when bidding on a public project, to submit a contractor safety and health plan as part of the procurement process. The Commissioner of Labor would be required to develop a uniform contractor safety and health plan form that could be used by all procurement units in the State. The bill was ultimately withdrawn by the sponsor. This bill has been introduced in 2015 and 2016.
HB 158 (SB 169) – State Personnel Recruitment Modernization Act of 2019 (FAILED) is a bill introduced by the Governor that completely changes how internal hiring and appointments work within State government. The bill disregards seniority from current workers when they seek another position within government and it removes the requirement of internal job advertising to current workers before advertising to the general public. The bill received an unfavorable report in both Houses.
SB 979 (HB 413) – Public Information Act – Personnel and Investigatory Records – Formal Complaints Against Public Employees (FAILED) redefines the Public Information Act to say that job-related misconduct records are not part of a public worker’s personnel file. It opens up State employees to having portions of their personnel records available to the public. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsors in both Houses.
SB 272 (HB 12) - State Correctional Facilities - Correctional Officers - Background Check (FAILED) allows for the State to use a polygraph test or an extensive background check, or both, when hiring correctional officers. Current law only allows the use of a polygraph. The bill received no vote in the House Judiciary Committee, but was voted favorably out of Senate Finance, only to have the full Senate recommit the bill back to the Finance Committee.
Multiple Workers’ Compensation bills were introduced this Session, with most relating to medical presumptions, reporting, or establishing time or resource limitations for issues surrounding WC claims.
HB 595 – Workers' Compensation – Medical Presumptions (ENACTED) adds bladder, kidney, or renal cell cancer to the types of cancer that are considered occupational diseases suffered in the line of duty and it sets the compensation levels accordingly. These cancers affect firefighters and first-responders the most. An almost identical bill – HB 233 (SB 160) – was introduced by the Governor, but it received no action in either committee.
HB 604 (SB 646) – Workers’ Compensation – Medical Presumptions for Diseases and Cancer – Eligibility (Firefighter Jesse McCullough’s Cancer Protection Law) (ENACTED) changes the circumstances under which firefighters, firefighting instructors, rescue squad members, advanced life support unit members, and members of the Office of the State Fire Marshal are presumed to be suffering from an occupational disease that was suffered in the line of duty and is compensable under the workers' compensation law to encompass individuals with at least 10 years of cumulative service within the State and the cancer or leukemia has resulted in partial or total disability or death. Prior to the passage of this law, first-responders needed to have 10 years of service at the same fire station to be eligible and have a total disability.
HB 797 (SB 348) – Workers' Compensation – Medical Benefits – Reimbursement for Medical Mileage (FAILED) requires that covered employees request reimbursement for medical mileage within one year of incurring the cost, and that the request be on a form adopted by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Under current law, covered workers must be reimbursed for medical mileage, and there is no time limit on when they can submit requests, nor requirements of specific forms from the WCC that must be used. The bill received no vote in either the House Economic Matters or Senate Finance Committees.
SB 349 – Workers' Compensation – Provision of Medical Services and Treatment – Notification to Seek Treatment (FAILED) requires a covered employee who seeks medical treatment for an accidental personal injury, but has not yet filed a claim or has no issues pending before the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), to notify his or her employer, its insurer, or the
Uninsured Employer’s Fund (UEF) at least 30 business days before undergoing medical treatment. If the employee does not do so, the treatment is not eligible for a workers’ compensation claim payment unless the WCC determines the medical treatment was emergent. There is no such onerous requirement on injured workers under current law. It was heard in the Senate Finance Committee, and no further action was taken.
SB 443 – Workers' Compensation – Discharge of Employee – Prohibition (FAILED) prohibits an employer from firing a worker, if the determination for firing them is, in any way, related to the worker filing a claim for Workers’ Compensation. It received no vote in the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 453 (SB 444) – Unemployment Insurance – Exemption From Covered Employment – Bulk Vending Item Assembly (FAILED) creates a carve-out in UI law where workers engaged in the light assembly of bulk vending items for bulk vending machines will not be covered by Unemployment Insurance. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsors in both the House and the Senate.
Protecting and Expanding Voting Rights
Multiple bills affecting voting rights were introduced in the 2019 Session. Some attempted to restrict voting rights, but the majority sought to expand them. Additionally, in the 2018 Election, a ballot question was approved by the voters, authorizing the General Assembly to pass a law that would allow Election Day Voter Registration. However, it was disappointing that the General Assembly refused to make any movement on expanding Voting By Mail.
HB 286 – Election Law – Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Places (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) allows a Maryland resident and US citizen to register to vote on Election Day at a polling location in their county of residence with proof of residency. If the resident goes to their precinct of residency they receive a standard ballot. If they go to a different polling location within their county that is not within their precinct of their residency, they receive a provisional ballot.
HB 269 (SB 343) – Election Law – Voting by Absentee Ballot – Prepaid Postage for the Return of Ballots (FAILED) requires that all absentee ballots that are mailed out have return postage, with half of it being paid for by the local board of elections and half being paid for by the State board of elections. The bill was never taken up for a vote in either the House Ways and Means or Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committees.
SB 333 – Election Law – Permanent Absentee Ballot List (FAILED) allows voters to request that they are placed on a permanent absentee ballot list, so that they are automatically mailed an absentee ballot for every election. They can, at any time, opt to be taken off the list. The bill received no movement in the Senate or House.
SB 476 – Department of Legislative Services – Voting by Mail – Study (FAILED) requires a study of Voting by Mail by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS). Specifically, DLS must research options for convenient, reliable, and secure procedures and materials for voting by mail and make recommendations regarding a plan of action and milestones for designing, testing, and implementing a system for voting by mail, including proposed legislation and any necessary administrative changes. The bill was voted unfavorably by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Wages, Benefits, and Retirement
Myriad bills were introduced that addressed wages, benefits, and retirement. The spectrum ranged from bills that would be a boon for working families all the way to direct attacks against workers and their benefits. Most notably were the number of attempts to undermine the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, by finding new and inventive ways to deny more Maryland workers access to sick leave.
HB 524 (SB 300) - Prevailing Wage Rates - Public Work Contracts - Suits by Employees (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) allowsworkers to sue their employers for Prevailing Wage theft. Under current law, the only recourse a worker had – when their employer had not paid them what was owed under the Prevailing Wage Law – was to take their complaint to the Commissioner of Labor. Now, workers have the private right of action, to seek stolen wages, up to triple the original damages they received.
SB 40 – Procurement - Prevailing Wage – Modifications (FAILED) increases from 25% to 50%, the percentage of money that the State must contribute before the construction of a public school would need to be subject to the Prevailing Wage Law. The bill was never taken up for a vote in Senate Finance.
HB 1240 (SB 730) – State Personnel – Merit Pay (FAILED) requires the Governor to include in the FY2021 budget at least $94,178,000 for the purpose of providing a merit pay increase to workers whose overall performance is rated satisfactory or above on the employee’s annual performance appraisal. It passed the full House, but was not voted on in either the Senate Finance or Senate Budget and Taxation Committees.
HB 56 (SB 38) – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Employers With On-Site Health Clinics – Exemption (INTERIM STUDY) takes away Earned Sick Leave from workers whose employer has an on-site health clinic. The Economic Matters Committee referred it to an interim study, but the Senate Finance Committee took no action.
HB 686 (SB 912) – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Adverse Actions – Absence Control Policy (INTERIM STUDY) allows employers to create or use an existing “absence control policy” – a program employers use to discourage workers from using earned leave, and developed with no input from workers – to penalize working people for using their Earned Sick Leave. The House Economic Matters Committee referred it to an interim study. The Senate took no action.
SB 681 (HB) – Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Seasonal Temporary Workers (FAILED) takes away more Earned Sick Leave from seasonal workers by increasing from 106 days to 120 days, the period during which an employer is not required to allow an employee to use earned sick and safe leave. Therefore, a seasonal worker would need to be employed for 121 days in order to be eligible. The bill never made it out of the House Rules Committee and was not voted on in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 686 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Applicability (FAILED) takes away Earned Sick Leave from substitute teachers, statewide. It was not brought up for a vote in Senate Finance.
HB 634 (SB 738) – Labor and Employment – Wage History and Wage Range (FAILED) requires an employer, on request, to provide to a prospective employment applicant the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied. The bill prohibits an employer from asking the applicant for, or relying on, wage history – except under certain circumstances – as a condition of hiring. The bill did not receive a vote in either the House Economic Matters or Senate Finance Committees.
HB 341 (SB 500) – Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2019) (FAILED) establishes a statewide family and medical leave insurance program that shares the costs between employer and employee. The program is administered by the Division of Unemployment Insurance, and would provide up to 12 weeks of benefits to an employee. The weekly benefit is capped at $1000 in 2019 and indexed for inflation for future years. The bills were heard in the House Economic Matters and Senate Finance Committees, but no vote was taken.
HB 972 (SB 329) – Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law – Awards of Certain Fees and Costs and Prohibition Against Retaliation (FAILED) allows an employee to bring an action against the employer to recover unpaid wages and if the court finds that the employer unlawfully withheld wages, the court may award the employee reasonable counsel fees and other costs. Additionally, HB 972 prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee who acts to recover unpaid wages. The Senate took no action, but the House Economic Matters Committee voted unfavorably on the bill.
SB 959 - Labor and Employment - Wage Payment and Collection - General Contractor Liability (FAILED) reduces a General Contractor (GC) liability for wage theft committed by a subcontractor, by requiring a worker to notify the GC in writing within 180 days of the violation, and giving the GC 14 days to cure the violation. The State Fed and Building Trades successfully fought it back in the House, where it never came up for a vote in the House Economic Matters Committee. However, on March 19 it was voted out of Senate Rules heard and voted out unanimously in the Senate Finance Committee, and on second reader on the Senate Floor where it received a 46-0 vote on third reader.
As President Edwards often says: “Tax dollars are workers’ dollars. Every tax break for a business with the promise of job creation means that workers are paying businesses to develop jobs for workers with our own taxes.” With that in mind the State Federation pays considerable attention to all bills that address taxation, both individual and business. Unfortunately, the General Assembly proved, once again, that they were unwilling to increase corporate taxes, demand greater corporate accountability, or increase corporate transparency. However, all attempts to decrease the corporate tax rate were defeated. HB 1139, SB 37, SB 190, HB 922, and HB 375 sought to cut taxes for corporations. No action was taken on any of these bills in their respective committees.
SB 377 – Corporate Income Tax - Combined Reporting (FAILED) requires a multi-state corporation that operates in Maryland, to add together profits of all of its subsidiaries, regardless of their location, and pay Maryland corporate income tax based on all profit. More than half the states and the District of Columbia have some form of combined reporting. The bill was never taken up for a vote in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Similar bills have been introduced since 2004.
SB 76 – Small Business Fairness Act (FAILED) requires combined reporting (CR) for retail and food services corporations, only. It was never voted on in Senate Budget and Taxation.
HB 361 (SB 480) – Effective Corporate Tax Rate Transparency Act of 2019 (FAILED) requires a publicly traded corporation that files a Maryland income tax return to attach a statement to the return identifying the corporation's effective tax rate and an explanation of the calculation of the effective tax rate. It also makes their effective tax rate subject to an audit by the Comptroller. The bill was heard in Ways and Means and Budget and Taxation, but neither committee brought it up for a vote.
HB 111 (SB 549) – Income Tax Credit – Agency Shop Fees and Union Dues (FAILED) allows union members to claim a credit against the State income tax for union dues paid by the worker during the taxable year if the union dues would have been allowed as a deduction under the Federal Tax system, prior to the passage of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It would have restored the State tax credit for union dues after the Federal government took it away. The bill never received a vote in either the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee or the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 154 (SB 171) – Income Tax Subtraction Modification – Qualified Retired Public Safety Employee (Hometown Heroes Act of 2019) (FAILED) expands the State income tax subtraction modification for retired law enforcement; correctional officers; and fire, rescue, or emergency services personnel by exempting 100% of retirement income, phased in over two years and extending eligibility to retirees 50 years and older. The bill was not voted on in either the House Ways and Means or Budget and Taxation Committees.
HB 385 –Income Tax – Subtraction Modification for Classroom Supplies Purchased by Teachers – Alteration (FAILED) increases from $250 to $500 the maximum amount allowed as a subtraction modification for Maryland income tax for expenses paid by teachers. The bill received no action in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Two Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) bills – SB 262 and SB 263 – were introduced that would have expanded the EITC to more low-income workers by changing how it is calculated, who is eligible, and how it is refunded to the worker. Both were heard in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, but neither received a vote.
Public Education and Higher Education
The 2019 Session saw a flurry of education-related bills, with the most significant being the record funding increases for public education. We also won positive changes to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), and greater protections for workers and prospective students.
SB 1030 (HB 1413) – The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVENOR) establishes principles of The Blueprint for Maryland's Future intended to transform Maryland's early childhood, primary, and secondary education systems. This is the first of the “Kirwan Commission” bills that is based on the recommendations of the Commission’s interim report, published in January. The bill provides $255 Million in increased spending in FY2020 and mandates a $355 Million increase and a $370 Million increase in FY2021 and FY2022, respectively.
HB 87 – State Board of Education – Membership – Teacher and Parent Members (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) adds a certified teacher, elected by certified teachers in the State, and a parent of public-school student, selected by the Governor from a three person list submitted by the Maryland Parent Teacher Association (PTA), to the State Board of Education.
SB 661 – Primary and Secondary Education – Community Schools – Established (ENACTED) defines a “community school” as a public school that establishes a set of strategic partnerships between the school and other community resources to help students and families overcome the in-school and out-of-school barriers preventing children from learning and succeeding. Among other requirements, the community school must promote active family and community engagement with the school.
SB 35 (HB 137) – State Personnel – Professional Service – Maryland School for the Deaf – Teachers (ENACTED) codifies into law that teachers employed by the Maryland School for the Deaf are in the professional service in the State Personnel Management System. This guarantees them protections that being a yearly contractual employee does not afford them.
HB 464 (SB 399) – Consumer Protection – Private Career Schools and For-Profit Institutions of Higher Education – Disclosures (ENACTED) requires for-profit career schools to provide the following information to prospective students: “(1) the placement rate for the program, if the school or institution is required by its accrediting agency to calculate a placement rate for the program, or the school or institution, or both, using the required methodology of the accrediting agency; (2) whether the program satisfies the applicable educational prerequisites for professional licensure or certification in the State; and (3) the median earnings of former students of the school or institution who received federal financial aid at 10 years after entering the school or institution, as reported on the College Scorecard, if available.
There was not an abundance of action this Session on Apprenticeship and Training but several bills were filed addressing training in Maryland.
HB 1086 – Apprenticeship Maryland – Establishment, Requirements, Report (FAILED) establishes an apprenticeship program, named Apprenticeship Maryland, in six local school systems. It provides on-site employment training and related classroom instruction – but not an actual apprenticeship as defined by our unions – needed to obtain a license or certification for a skilled occupation in several different career tracks. It was voted unfavorably the Economic Matters Committee.
SB 617 – Free College, Career Skills, and Youth Apprenticeship Act of 2019 (FAILED) alters the State’s college and career readiness (CCR) standard, establishes post-CCR pathways for public high school students, requires related per pupil payments to local school systems, and provides support to students who have not reached the CCR standard. The bill also restructures the State’s career and technology education (CTE) program. It was not voted on in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
HB 1250 (SB 588) – Career Education Act of 2019 (FAILED) requires the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) to develop a mobile app to target employers in industries that are aligned with high school CTE student organizations. It requires county boards of education to treat certificates, certifications, or apprenticeships as the equivalent of college, and it also requires them to pay any fees related to CTE student organizations. It did not receive a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 1167 – Labor and Employment - Apprenticeship Career Training Pilot Program for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals – Establishment (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) establishes an Apprenticeship Career Training Pilot Program in the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) for formerly incarcerated individuals. DLLR will administer the pilot program and provide grants to employers that employ formerly incarcerated individuals. The grant is a maximum of $1,000 for each qualified workers. The Governor must include at least $100,000 annually in the State budget for fiscal 2021 through 2023 for the program.
HB 1115 (SB 515) – Community Colleges – Workforce Readiness Grant Program – Established (ENACTED) establishes a Workforce Readiness Grant Program to provide matching grants to each community college to improve their technology on campus. The bill authorizes the Governor to include matching grants of up to $250,000 for each community college campus in FY 2022 and 2024.
HB 201 (SB 319) – Maryland Transit Administration – State Employees – Free Ridership (Transit Benefit for State Employees) (ENACTED) expands the MTA free ridership services to any permanent employee in any unit of the Executive Branch of State government.
HB 1150 – Criminal Law – Assault on Public Transportation Operator – Penalties and Reporting (FAILED) expands the crime of felony second-degree assault to include the intentional causing of harm to public transportation providers. The bill also requires annual reporting on assaults from each State and Local transportation authority, as well as the Office of the Attorney General.
It was never taken up for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 246 – 21st Century Transportation Funding Act (FAILED) imposes the Sales tax on digital products, and then directs all of that revenue to the Transportation Trust Fund. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB 764 (SB 914) – Transportation – Magnetic Levitation Projects – Requirements (FAILED) prohibits the construction of Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) projects without the express consent of the majority of the counties that would be affected by the project. The bill never received a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee, and it never made it out of the Senate Rules Committee.
Energy and the Environment
There was quite a bit of work done in the General Assembly on issues surrounding Energy and the Environment. With the passage of the Clean Energy Jobs bill, Labor saw Project Labor Agreements, “Buy America” provisions, and Good Jobs definitions make it into environmental legislation. Additionally, the General Assembly went after polystyrene single-use products, increasing energy storage, restricting pipeline projects, and utility grade solar expansion.
SB 100 (HB 499) – Civil Actions – Interstate Pipeline Liability Act (FAILED) establishes that a pipeline operator is strictly liable for certain damages resulting from or occurring in connection with the operation of an interstate pipeline facility in the State. The bill was withdrawn from the Senate Judicial Proceedings and House Judiciary Committees.
HB 277 (SB 249) – Regional Initiative to Limit or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Transportation Sector – Authorization (Regional Transportation and Climate Protection Act of 2019) (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) authorizes the Governor to include Maryland in a regional governmental initiative or agreement that limits or reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The state may only withdraw from the agreement with a vote from the General Assembly.
HB 532 (SB 744) – Protecting Natural Resources and Preserving Productive Farms – Commission on the Development of a Blueprint for Solar Energy in Maryland (FAILED) creates a commission to study the placement of utility grade solar projects in a way that does not encroach upon Maryland farm land. The bill passed the full Senate, but never received a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
HB 650 (SB 573) – Energy Storage Pilot Project Act (ENACTED) requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish an energy storage pilot program with the cumulative size of the projects under the program being between 5 and 10 megawatts. The bill creates the framework for energy storage systems, in order to handle the power demands of consumers from renewable energy sources.
HB 109 (SB 285) – Environment – Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products – Prohibitions (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVENOR) bans the use of polystyrene products, statewide, that are used in the food service industry – businesses or schools – for the packaging of food or beverages, starting after July 1, 2020. Maryland becomes the first State in the country to ban the entire class of polystyrene foam food containers and cups. There are exceptions for the food packages outside of Maryland, foam products not used for food, and foam packaging for raw materials.
HB 472 – Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights (FAILED) proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to establish that every person has the right to a certain clean and healthy environment. It also establishes that every citizen has the right to intervene in an action brought by the State, Counties, or Municipalities, to protect their environmental rights. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
SB 984 – Maryland EARN Program – Strategic Industry Partnership – Definition (FAILED) expanded the definition of what a strategic industry partnership is for the purpose of allowing unions representing health care workers access to EARN grant funding for training. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
SB 946 (HB 1120) – State Prescription Drug Benefits – Retiree Benefits – Revisions (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVENOR) is an emergency bill that requires all Medicare eligible retirees to leave the State’s prescription plan. Those hired before 2011 will have an out of pocket max of $1500 an individual or $2000 per family if retired by December 31, 2019. If hired before 2011 but not retired, the cap is at “catastrophic” coverage in Part D -estimated at $2500 in expenses. Both groups will have access to “life sustaining” medicine not available in Medicare but in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) formulary. Retirees hired after 2011 will go straight to Part D. All retirees will have access to counseling and a hotline. These changes are delayed until the resolution of the court case, and open enrollment will take place at least 9 months after the court suit is resolved.
HB 768 (SB 759) – Health – Prescription Drug Affordability Board (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) establishes the Prescription Drug Affordability Board with the intention to compile, study, and report data regarding the high costs of prescription drug products. The Board will collect data on prescription drug prices that may cause affordability issues, may conduct cost review of products, and, ultimately, must set upper payment limits on the prices of prescription drugs purchased or paid for by a unit of state or local government, including prescribed drugs that state and local employees may take.
Government and Regulatory
HB 792 – Maryland Electricians Act – Revisions (FAILED) repeals local authority to license master and journeyperson electricians beginning July 1, 2019, and makes significant changes to current state licensing standards. Exceptions allowed a local jurisdiction to apply to the board for authorization to license master and journeyperson electricians. It was voted unfavorably by the House Economic Matters Committee.
HB 905 – Electricians – Low-Voltage Electricians, Continuing Education, and Penalties (FAILED) establishes a low-voltage electrician license as a State license. The bill was voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.
HB 1428 – University of Maryland Medical System Corporation – Board of Directors, Ethics, and Audits (PASSED) requires, by May 31, 2019, the Board of Directors of the University of Maryland Medical System Corporation to adopt a conflict of interest policy, and to file annual financial disclosures. It also requires the Board to ensure that the Corporation continues to be a private, nonprofit, nonstock corporation, and it prohibits State or local elected officials from serving on the Board. This emergency bill passed unanimously in both houses and was signed by the Governor on April 18, 2019.