The 2020 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session: Dominated by COVID-19 and Public Education
COVID-19: The 2020 Legislative Session marked the first time since the Civil War that the General Assembly adjourned early. As the COVID-19 Health Crisis grew, and “social distancing” had become the norm in Annapolis and our Country, the legislature made the decision to pass two emergency bills to address the crisis and then to adjourn Sie Die at 5pm on March 18th, 2020. The legislature worked full-bore for the last week of Session, but there was far too much to accomplish in the abbreviated Session. This led to, unfortunately, many good bills never receiving a vote. Prior to adjourning, Leaders of the General Assembly announced that they had worked out a deal with the Governor to re-convene in late May, in order to work on any new COVID-19 related bills that might be necessary, as well as to finish the business of the General Assembly for 2020. However, that Special Session never came to pass.
Public Education: The 2020 Legislative Session started, and for the most part ended, with Public Education being at the top of General Assembly’s list of priorities. Following the release of the recommendations of the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Education – commonly referred to as the “Kirwan Commission” – in December, the General Assembly acted on those recommendations to pass sweeping changes to education policy in Maryland. Having been routinely called a “once in a generation change” to how we educate Maryland’s children, the 235-page bill entitled the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” took up the lion’s share of political capital of the Maryland General Assembly. Due to this juggernaut of legislation, multiple revenue-producing bills were introduced to help pay for it, and many bills were waylaid by their projected cost due to the perception that they would interfere with the passage of the “Blueprint”. Governor Hogan ended up vetoing the Blueprint, as well as every bill that would have increased revenue to pay for it.
Who We Are and What We Do: 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 2020 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 several coalitions steering legislation.
During the 2020 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session, we tracked 745 bills including the Operational Budget and the Capital Budget. We submitted testimony and testified before legislative committees on 60 bills and their cross-filed versions. Together, labor worked to get 14 bills passed for our unions and no bill passed that we opposed.
General Assembly Leadership
The first order of business with each new annual session is the election of the Senate and House leadership. Bill Ferguson was elected Senate President, signifying the end of Mike Miller’s tenure as the longest serving Senate President in the history of the country. Adrienne Jones was elected Speaker of the House. There were changes in Senate Committee leadership, with Senator Guy Guzzone appointed as the Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee, Senator Will Smith appointed as the Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Senator Rosapepe appointed Vice-Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee, Senator Kagan appointed Vice-Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, and Senator Waldstreicher appointed Vice-Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. In the House, no Chairs changed hands, but Delegate Dumais was appointed Vice-Chair of Economic Matters, Delegate Alonzo Washington was appointed Vice-Chair of Ways and Means, and Delegate Mike Jackson was appointed Vice-Chair of Appropriations. In addition, a handful of Delegates and Senators received different committee assignments.
2020 Session Statistics
During the 2020 regular session of the General Assembly legislators introduced a total of 2,745 bills and 18 resolutions. The Senate originated 1,081 bills and 6 resolutions and the House originated 1,664 bills and 12 resolutions. Of those introduced, 681 bills and 1 resolution were passed.
The 440th session of the General Assembly of Maryland convened January 8, 2020, marking the secondyear of the four-year 2019 – 2023 elected term for 47 Senators and 141 Delegates. During the interim and during Session, five members of the General Assembly resigned, and Gubernatorial appointees replaced them to fill the remainder of the terms.
House of Delegates Replacements
District 8 - Carl Jackson replaced Eric Bromwell, who resigned.
District 30A – Shaneka Henson was appointed following the death of Mike Busch
District 35B – Mike Griffith replaced Andrew Cassilly, who resigned.
District 45 – Chanel Branch replaced Cheryl Glenn, who resigned.
District 42A – Cathi Forbes replaced Steve Lafferty, who resigned.
District 11 – Lisa Belcastro replaced Shelly Hettleman, who was appointed to the Senate.
District 44B – Sheila Ruth replaced Charles Sydnor, who was appointed to the Senate.
District 22 –Nicole Williams replaced Tawana Gaines, who resigned.
District 42 – Charles Sydnor replaced Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who resigned.
District 11 –Shelly Hettleman replaced Bobby Zirkin, who resigned.
Veto Overrides on 2019 Legislation
Following the 2019 Legislative Session, Governor Hogan vetoed 8 bills, 3 of which were high-priority pieces of legislation for the State Fed and our Affiliates. On January 30th, 2020, the General Assembly overrode two of them:
- HB 891 (SB 289) – State Personnel – Grievance Procedures allows 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 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.
Unfortunately, The General Assembly chose not to override a high priority bill for Labor, that had taken five years to pass
- HB 66 (SB 252) – Railroad Company – Movement of Freight – Required Crew prohibits 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 but was ineligible for a veto override due to restrictions in the State Constitution that prevents override votes immediately following an election of the General Assembly.
Gubernatorial Action on 2020 Legislation
Citing the COVID-19 pandemic – and the resulting negative impact to Maryland’s economy and tax base – the Governor announced that he would not sign any bills that would increase spending by State government.
Gubernatorial Vetoes – On May 7, 2020, Governor Hogan released a list of the bills that he had vetoed from the 2020 Legislative Session. He issued an unprecedented 39 vetoes, and in his correspondence to the General Assembly, the Governor grouped the vetoed bills into four categories of his justifications for vetoing them: “Excessive Spending”, “Increased Taxes and Fees”, “Crime”, and “Additional and Duplicative”. Several bills affected labor were vetoed, and they are noted below.
Signed Legislation – True to his word, and in another unprecedented move, the Governor signed no bills into law after the end of the Legislative Session.
Passed Without Action – Hundreds of bills that passed the General Assembly became law due to the Governor taking no action on them.
The final status of each bill is listed below in parentheses, immediately following the title of the legislation.
COVID-19 Emergency Bills
In the final few days of the abbreviated Session, the General Assembly worked with the Governor to craft emergency legislation related to the health crisis. On Friday, March 13th, after extensive conversations with affiliates, President Edwards drafted a letter to the Speaker and Senate President, detailing what provisions would be needed in any emergency legislation to address the immediate and medium-term needs of workers to help them navigate the COVID-19 health crisis. Unfortunately, General Assembly leadership did not add most of Labor’s requests, but they did attempt to tackle the expansion of Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Additionally, the Governor, through executive order, suspended utility turn-offs and evictions for the duration of the crisis. The following two bills were passed in response to the growing problem in Maryland:
- SB 1079 (HB 1661) State Budget - Revenue Stabilization Account Transfers – Coronavirus (APPROVED BY GOVERNOR) allows the Governor to transfer up to $50 million from the Revenue Stabilization Act (rainy-day fund) to pay for costs associated with the COVID-19 response. To access those funds, the Governor must provide the Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) with the reason for expenditure at least 7 days in advance of the transfer. Additionally, within 60 days of the transfer, the Department of Management and Budget (DBM) must submit a report to the LPC on the use of the funds.
- SB 1080 (HB 1663) COVID–19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 (APPROVED BY GOVERNOR) authorizes the Governor to take a series of actions that would facilitate access to health care and provision of that care and mitigate costs to individuals for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment. Specifically, the Governor may:
- prohibit cost-sharing by an insurer, nonprofit health service plan, or health maintenance organization for COVID-19 testing
- order MDH to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing if the costs are not covered by an insurer
- require carriers and Medicaid to cover an eventual COVID-19 immunization
- establish or waive telehealth protocols for COVID-19, including authorizing health care professionals licensed out-of-state to provide telehealth to patients in the State
- order MDH to reimburse telehealth services for COVID-19 provided to a patient, if the service is covered by Medicaid and provided by a participating Medicaid provider
- consult with MDH, the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to develop and implement orders relating to COVID-19 to minimize disruption in enrollment in health insurance and Medicaid, facilitate reimbursement by carriers of telehealth services provided to patients in the State, and facilitate reimbursement of essential services to minimize the risk to public health.
Prohibition powers for the Governor: The bill authorizes the Governor to prohibit a retailer from increasing their costs by over 10% during the pandemic, and it authorizes him to prohibit employers from terminating workers who has been required to quarantine.
Staffing of State-owned Health Care Facilities: The Governor may order Maryland Department of Health to authorize an alternative workweek for 24-hour state-owned health care facilities.
Unemployment Insurance: The Commissioner of Labor is authorized to provide UI benefits to workers impacted by COVID-19.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
SB 1000 (HB 1300) The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – Implementation (VETOED BY GOVERNOR) is a far-reaching bill that, if signed by the Governor, will fundamentally change education funding and implementation in the State of Maryland. The following points are some of those changes:
- Increase in per-pupil funding: When fully implemented, over 10 years, per-pupil funding will increase by $1 billion, and then will continue to adjust for inflation for each year, thereafter.
- Special Education Funding: State aid for students receiving special education will increase by over 80%. State aid for English Language Learners (ELL) will increase by $450 million.
- Community School Expansion: Any school where low-income students are 55% or more of the population will be converted into a community school, which comes with special funding for that status.
- Pre-K changes: The Blueprint makes free public pre-k available to all 3 and 4 year-old children whose families are below 300% of the federal poverty line. It also expands Judy Centers, Family Support Centers, and county “infant and toddler” programs.
- Better Pay: Teachers’ salaries will be improved – up to 10% by 2025 – and starting pay for new teachers is expected to be $60,000 per year by 2026. There will also be additional salary increases for National Board Certification.
- Career and Technical Education (CTE): The Blueprint sets a target of 45% of graduates achieving an industry approved occupational credential before they graduate, requiring a vast expansion of vocational and CTE training.
- Increased Accountability: The new Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), comprised of 7 members appointed by the Governor and Leadership of the General Assembly will be responsible for ensuring that new programming under the Blueprint is implemented correctly and accurately measured for success.
Labor did not have unanimity on this bill. While teachers around the State were supportive of the legislation – while still having changes they wished to see amended into the bill – the support staff in Maryland’s schools, represented by AFSCME 2250, SEIU 400, AFSCME 67, and ASASP vocalized concerns that it didn’t fully address all staff that worked in schools.
Bills that passed the Maryland General Assembly
SJ 1 (HJ 7) 2026 FIFA World Cup - Protection of Human Rights (PASSED) is the resolution written by President Edwards that reaffirms Maryland’s commitment to protecting Human Rights and Labor Rights in the build-up to, and execution of, the 2026 World Cup Games, of which both Baltimore City and Washington, D.C., are potential host cities for the games. The State Fed worked to get 25 sponsors in the Senate and 77 sponsors in the House, the largest sponsorship for a bill in the 2020 Legislative Session.
HB 1018 (SB 780) Labor and Employment - Economic Stabilization Act – Revisions (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) requires the Secretary of Labor to promulgate mandatory guidelines for employers (with over 50 employees) on proper notice on their decision to downsize operations or close up shop, requiring 60 days’ notice to workers, bargaining representatives, and all elected officials in the jurisdiction where the reduction of operations will occur. The original bill required 90 days’ notice but was amended to 60 before passage.
HB 123 (SB 217) Labor and Employment - Wage History and Wage Range (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) mandates that employers will no longer be allowed to use salary history when considering a worker for a new position, including a promotion, and they may not use it in determining the wages for a worker. The original bill allowed a worker to sue an employer for a violation, but that was amended out before final passage, allowing only the Commissioner of Labor to assess fines for violations.
HB 523 (SB 225) State Personnel - Employee Accommodations - Pregnancy and Childbirth (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) requires the State to provide reasonable accommodations for State workers who experience a temporary disability due to pregnancy or childbirth. These include changes to work hours, duties, locations of work, providing aids for the worker, or granting leave.
SB 434 (HB 722) Labor and Employment - Occupational Safety and Health - Heat Stress Standards (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) requires the Commissioner of Labor – in consultation with the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Advisory Board – to promulgate regulations that require employers to protect workers from heat-related illnesses caused by heat stress, by October of 2022. It also requires MOSH to hold four informational hearings around the State to gather input from interested parties. The original bill laid out the regulations that were necessary to protect workers, but the entirety of that was amended out of the bill. It was converted to its current form which is, essentially, a study to determine what the regulations should look like.
SB 938 (HB 1571) Hospitals - Changes in Status - Hospital Employee Retraining and Placement (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) corrects the lack of funding for retraining and placement by requiring all hospitals to pay into the Hospital Employees’ Retraining Program (HERP) Fund, on an annual basis. All Maryland hospitals will pay a reduced rate of 0.006% of gross operating revenue, annually, into the Fund. The bill was amended to also include that all hospitals pay into the fund when any hospital downsizes or closes, resulting in workers being displaced.
HB 443 (SB 430) Southern Maryland Code Counties - Collective Bargaining (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) is enabling legislation that allows Charles County to enact a local law to provide regular employees of the county the right to organize and bargain collectively with binding arbitration.
HB 1420 (SB 875) Hospitals - Financial Assistance Policies and Bill Collections (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) provides much need relief for the poorest in Maryland, by requiring each hospital to have a financial assistance policy (FAP) that patients who are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level receive free care, and that those between 200% and 500% receive discounted care. Additionally, it requires that, prior to being discharged, patients are informed of the FAP and are screened for eligibility, with some being presumptively eligible based on their current economic situation.
HB 37 (SB 145) Election Law - References to Absentee Voting in Communications - Mail-In Voting (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) changes all references of mail-in voting from “absentee” to “mail-in”, allowing Maryland to better communicate to voters that there are no pre-conditions on voting by mail. On the last day of Session, the bill was amended to require that all mail-in ballots were postage pre-paid, so that voters do not have to pay for stamps in order to mail their ballot back to the board of elections.
SB 122 (HB 45) Alteration of the More Jobs for Marylanders and Opportunity Zone Enhancement Programs (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) requires new businesses requesting tax credits in an Opportunity Zone to pay at least 120% of minimum wage to qualify for the credit. The original bill applied to all businesses, whether they were new or existed prior to the passage of the law. Also, massage parlors were, inexplicably, amended out of
HB 1026 Economic Development Programs - Data Collection, Tracking, and Reporting Requirements (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) provides reporting for four of the business tax credits: More Jobs for Marylanders, Purchase of Cybersecurity Technology or Service, Opportunity Zone Enhancement, and Small Business Relief. The annual reporting requirements applied to these credits includes the name of each business that receives them, the total amount received, the number jobs and average salary created by them, and a statement of whether the credit was reduced, revoked, or recaptured for any reason.
HB 1169 (SB 774) Health Services Cost Review Commission – Community Benefits – Reporting (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) mandates that the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) establishes a Community Benefit Reporting Workgroup and adopts recommendation of the workgroup, to address the health needs in communities that surround Maryland’s hospitals.
HB 1658 (SB 1065) Economic Development - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - Funding and Reporting (VETOED BY GOVERNOR) requires the Governor to fund the BSO at $1.5 million in FY2022, with decreasing amounts annually, until a final appropriation of $700,000 in FY2026. In FY2020 Governor Hogan refused to release $1.6 million. Ironically, this refusal to release funds coincided with a labor dispute at the BSO, that resulted in musicians being locked out for months, until finally reaching a deal in negotiations with management in early fall of 2019. This need never have happened if the funding had been released.
HB 1127 (SB 994) Department of Labor – Electricians – State Licensing Workgroup (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) originally changed the entire licensure process for Electricians, and its title was “Maryland Electricians Act of 2020”. It was amended to become a workgroup to study licensure issues, “low-voltage” electrical services, and local government code enforcement processes. The workgroup mandates at least one member from a labor organization that represents licensed electricians.
SB 294 (HB 593) Revenues of For-Profit schools - Limitation on Enrollment (Veterans' Education Protection Act) (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) demands that the GI Bill education benefits and Defense Department tuition assistance count toward the 90% Federal funding limit for private for-profit schools in Maryland. Additionally, it provides accountability by not allowing these for-profit schools to enroll new Maryland residents if they do not derive at least 10% of their revenue from private sources. The original bill would have applied the law immediately; however, it was amended to begin in 2023.
Bills that were voted down in Committee
SB 408 (HB 426) Department of Legislative Services - Voting by Mail - Study (FAILED) mandates that a study be completed by the Department of Legislative Services that delves into every facet of VBM, including fiscal, security, and legal issues, allowing Maryland to design and implement a VBM program that fits our State and eliminates any concerns that opponents may have. No action was taken in the House, and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee voted it unfavorable.
SB 369 (HB 804) Workgroup to Study Maryland's Emerging Digital Economy (FAILED) creates a workgroup to study Maryland’s emerging digital economy, tasking it to look at all facets, from Higher Education to potential tax credits; from re-evaluating current State training programs to recommendations to industry on how best to prepare for the coming transition to “Manufacturing 4.0”. The State Fed requested an amendment to add four members from organized labor to this workgroup. The Senate took no action on the bill, and the House Economic Matters Committee voted the unamended bill unfavorable.
HB 1021 (SB 906) Maryland Healthy Working Families Act - Seasonal Temporary Workers (FAILED) is another attempt to weaken protections for workers and to dilute Earned Sick Leave for working Marylanders. Under current law, seasonal workers are exempt from the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act if they work 106 days – a compromise from the original 90 days – or less at a seasonal job. HB 1021 increases that window from 106 days to 120 days, thereby exempting even more workers from receiving their Earned Sick Leave. It was withdrawn from the Senate and voted unfavorably by the House Economic Matters Committee.
HB 163 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 46 unions, locals, and central labor councils, and both the President and Secretary-Treasurer testified orally against HB 163. The bill was voted down in the Economic Matters Committee, on a strict Party-line vote, with three Delegates being excused. This is the tenth year, in a row, that Delegate Warren Miller (District 9A) has introduced a “Right to Work” bill in the General Assembly.
HB 956 (SB 831) Labor and Employment - Wage Payment and Collection - General Contractor Liability (FAILED) requires a worker to seek payment from the General Contractor (GC) on a site if they were a victim of wage theft by a subcontractor, before being able to take any other action to make themselves whole. This creates an additional obstacle for workers to recover stolen or lost wages. They work directly for a sub-contractor who, if the worker is disputing a pay difference, has zero incentive to help the worker connect directly with the GC. Once a worker for a subcontractor starts inquiring about a GC, that worker will likely be fired by the subcontractor. The bill was withdrawn in the Senate and voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.
Bills that received a vote of some kind but did not pass
SB 168 (HB 98) Electricity - Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Qualifying Biomass (FAILED) removes black liquor from the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). The bill was voted unfavorably in the Senate Finance Committee and no action was taken in the House.
HJ 8 United States of America - District of Columbia - Statehood (FAILED) is a resolution that urges members of Congress to enact federal legislation or a constitutional amendment that would grant statehood to the District of Columbia. The resolution passed the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on the last day of Session but did not come up for a vote in the full House.
HB 473 Pass–Through Entities, Throwback Rule, and Combined Reporting (FAILED) closes a corporate loophole (throwback rule) that allows companies to pay no taxes by selling over state lines by ensuring that each dollar of corporate income in Maryland is subject to taxation by a single state – without double taxation on the profits – by assigning income to Maryland for the purpose of calculating the company’s tax bill. The original bill only handled the “throwback rule” but was amended to include the taxation of corporate pass-through entities and the enactment of combined reporting. The bill passed the full House. No action was taken in the Senate.
HB 565 Business and Economic Development Tax Credits – Termination, Alteration, and Evaluation (FAILED) terminates several business tax credits and alters others, significantly. The original version of the bill would have terminated the Film Activity Tax Credit by 2023, but Labor worked with the sponsor and committee to have that provision amended out. The bill passed the full House, but no action was taken by the Senate.
HB 71 Maryland Funding Accountability and Transparency Act - Nonbudgeted State Agencies (FAILED) requires the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) to update payment data on the Maryland Transparency Portal on a monthly – instead of an annual – basis, and requires nonbudgeted state agencies to submit their payment data for inclusion into the website. These changes will allow taxpayers to observe – on a monthly basis – payments greater than $25,000 from all State agencies, and the entities that receive those payments. It passed the House but not the Senate.
HB 51 (SB 91) Individuals Released From Correctional Facilities - Voter Registration (FAILED) requires a correctional facility to provide ex-offenders a voter registration form and to instruct them that, upon their release from a correctional facility after serving their time, they have the right to vote and must register to do so. The bill was passed by the Senate, but never taken up for a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.
SB 159 (HB 207) Baltimore City Community College - Procurement Authority (FAILED) exempts BCCC from State procurement law, allowing them to set their own policy on procurement. This would also exempt them from Prevailing Wage (PW) and Living Wage (LW) requirements. The bill passed the full Senate but was, thankfully, withdrawn by the House sponsor when she realized that this would negatively impact workers.
SB 33 (HB 881) Voting by Absentee Ballot - Prepaid Postage for Return of Ballots (AMENDED INTO ANOTHER BILL) requires local boards of election to pay for return postage for absentee ballots, with 50% of the cost picked up by the State Board of Elections. This standalone bill was not acted upon; however, the entirety of it was amended into HB 37, which did pass.
Bills that received no votes in Committee
HB 1081 (SB 873) Health Facilities - Hospitals - Medical Debt Protection (FAILED) levels the playing field for hard-working Marylanders who experience a medical emergency, by eliminating the most egregious debt-collection practices of Maryland hospitals, requiring hospitals provide payment plan options instead of lump sum demands, and giving patients more breathing room to file health insurance appeals over contested billing. Hospitals will no longer be able to place a lien on a patient’s home, garnish wages, sue patients over medical bills while health insurance appeals are ongoing, report unpaid medical bills to credit reporting agencies for at least 180 days, or file lawsuits to collect on debts that are $5000 or less. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor in both the House and Senate.
HB 1089 Economic Development - Job Creation Tax Credit - Qualified Position (FAILED) borrows from the “Good Jobs” language that Labor amended into the Clean Energy Jobs Act passed in the 2019 Session. The bill amends the definition of a “qualified position” for employers to receive the Job Creation Tax Credit to include: Fair Scheduling, Career Advancement, the right to Collectively Bargain, Paid Leave, Unemployment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation verification, Health Insurance, and Retirement Benefits. It also increases the salary qualification from 120% to 150% of minimum wage, or – if in the construction industry – it applies Prevailing Wage. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 1192 (SB 577) Income Tax - Theatrical Production Tax Credit (FAILED) creates the Theatrical Production Tax Credit, structured in the same way as the highly successful Film Activity Tax Credit, with the same level of transparency, accountability, and benefit to Maryland workers and their families. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 1410 (SB 62) Labor and Employment – Secure Maryland Wage Act (FAILED) sets the wages and benefits of workers at BWI, the Port of Baltimore, and Penn Station to the Guard I classification for the applicable County under the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act. Workers at those locations would receive better pay and benefits because they are working at a “heightened security location”. At one point an amendment was floated that would have exempted the food service workers at those locations, but, ultimately, no action was taken on the bill.
HB 214 (SB 658) Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act (FAILED) enables Graduate Assistants at Maryland’s Universities and Colleges to organize and collectively bargain for their pay and benefits. The bill has been introduced over multiple Sessions and has never received any action in other the Senate or the House.
HB 775 Collective Bargaining - Baltimore City Community College - Faculty (FAILED) establishes a collective bargaining process for Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) faculty, and excludes officers, supervisory or confidential employees, part-time faculty, and student assistants. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB 222 Income Tax Rates - Capital Gains Income (FAILED) adds a 1% surtax on capital gains income for State taxes. This would increase based on income level, from 2% to 3% at the lowest end, up to 6.75% (from 5.75%) for income greater than $250,000 ($300,000 if filing jointly). No action was taken on the bill.
HB 256 Maryland Estate Tax - Unified Credit (FAILED) changes the amount exclusion of inherited wealth that is subject to taxation. Currently, only Estates over $5 million are subject to the Estate Tax and this bill drops the exclusion down to Estates in excess of $1 million. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 295 Corporate Income Tax - Combined Reporting (AMENDED INTO ANOTHER BILL) requires a multi-state corporation to add together the profits of all its subsidiaries, regardless of their location, into one report, for the purposes of calculating Maryland taxes. The substance of this bill was amended into HB 473 that passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate.
HB 452 Subtraction Modification for Classroom Supplies Purchased by Teachers - Alteration (FAILED) increases the annual tax subtraction modification for school supplies personally paid for by teachers from $250 to $500. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 507 Income Tax - Pass-Through Entity - Additional Tax (AMENDED INTO ANOTHER BILL) applies a 4% tax directly on the profits – in excess of $1 million per year – of the Pass-through-entity (PTE) distributive share to business owners, in order to recoup some of this lost revenue through existing PTE tax avoidance schemes. No action was taken on the bill, but it was amended into HB 473.
HB 525 Phase Out Company Giveaways Act (FAILED) creates a voluntary interstate compact that would only go into effect if at least one other State or the District of Columbia became a signatory with Maryland. Once entered, member States would be prohibited from offering or providing any company from the signatory states giveaways to relocate large multi-national corporations to within their borders. If any State is unhappy with the compact, they can withdraw with six months’ notice. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 582 (SB 232) Procurement - Prevailing Wage - Applicability (FAILED) eliminates the 50% State Funding threshold on all non-State public works, for a project to adhere to prevailing wage law. Prevailing wage would still apply to only projects in excess of $500,000 that receives any State funding. It would not affect the current 25% State Funding threshold for public school construction. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 679 (SB 717) EITC - Individuals Without Qualifying Children - Eligibility (FAILED) raises the income threshold for the EITC for workers without children, allowing more low-income workers to take advantage of the credit, providing more relief, and allowing more breathing room for working families, trying to make ends meet. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 680 (SB 719) EITC - Individuals Without Qualifying Children - Calculation and Refundability (FAILED) increases, from 50% to 100%, the percentage of the federal credit that an individual without a qualifying child can claim. Moreover, the bill makes the credit full refundable, so these earners receive a refund check. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 17 Motor Vehicle Insurance - Use of Credit History in Rating Policies (FAILED) bans the use of credit history in rating policies for auto insurance plans in Maryland. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 216 (HB 439) Income Tax - Carried Interest - Additional Tax (FAILED) applies a 17% state income surtax on the pass-through income that is attributable to investment management services provided in Maryland. The bill attempted to address the enormous tax disparity between workers and those who derive their income through investments. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 311 Corporate Tax Fairness Act of 2020 (FAILED) required combined reporting and implementation of the corporate “throwback rule” to address corporate income that isn’t taxable in any state. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 641 (HB 1097) Maryland Wage Protection Act (FAILED) requires employers to provide information in workers’ pay stubs that include: how the worker is paid (hourly, salary, etc.), tip, meal, lodging allowances, number of hours worked (or applicable piece rate), and the name and contact information for the employers. It allows workers to be aware of any changes, discrepancies, or deficiencies, and make corrections with the employer, if need be. The bill protects workers – who report incidents of wage theft – from retaliation by their employers. Finally, the bill clearly defines the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 660 (HB 641) Collective Bargaining - Chancellor of the University System of Maryland - Negotiations (FAILED) streamlines the Collective Bargaining process for USM employees, eliminates duplicative efforts, and allows for workers to bargain directly with the University System – the ultimate arbiter on ratifying a contract on management’s side – instead of going through an extra layer of management that lacks the authority to make a final decision. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 718 Income Tax - Film Production Activity Tax Credit - Alterations (FAILED) immediately expands the Film Production Activity Tax Credit to $20 million, annually, instead of the existing multi-year phase-in to get to that level of funding. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 742 Labor and Employment - Fair Recruitment and Transparency Act (FAILED) requires a foreign labor contractor (FLC) to be licensed by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry before the individual may perform foreign labor contracting services in Maryland. Additionally, a person may not use an FLC to perform a foreign labor contracting service unless the person ascertains that the FLC is licensed. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 265 (HB 363) Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES) (FAILED) is the Governor’s bill that would significantly change energy and environmental policy in Maryland. It sets a goal of 100% renewable energy use in the State by 2040, and it removes waste-to-energy and black liquor from the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). It does not address training for workers or a plan for transitioning workers and communities from fossil-fuel industries to clean energy industries. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 438 (SB 560) Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Eligible Sources (FAILED) removes waste-to-energy (incineration) from the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. No action was taken on the bill.
HB 965 (SB 862) Labor and Employment - Minimum Wage - Allegany County and Garrett County (FAILED) allows Garrett and Allegany County to complete the phase-in for the minimum wage increase to $15/hour two years longer than the rest of the State. While 21 counties and Baltimore City would need to phase-in to $15/hour by 2026, Garrett and Allegany would phase-in by 2028. No action was taken on the bill.
Article V Convention Calls – Resolutions
The AFL-CIO opposes all attempts to convene a Constitutional Convention due to the potential unintended consequences that could arise from an open-ended opportunity to completely re-write our Constitution. There is no precedent for a Constitutional Convention, and there are no rules on who would appoint Delegates to the Convention, their apportionment, or who could serve as a Delegate. Once convened, a Constitutional Convention has no restrictions on what issues it could address. While the intent of some of these resolutions are admirable, there is zero certainty that a Convention would be constrained to only the issues raised in the resolutions, themselves. The potential to completely upend our Democracy is far too high a price to pay for the issues addressed in the resolutions. The following three resolutions received no action in their committees:
- HJ 10 (SJ 2) United States Constitution – Amendments Convention – Democracy Amendment (FAILED) calls for an Article V Convention to address funding of elections.
- HJ 5 United States Constitution - Amendments Convention - Congressional Term Limits Amendment (FAILED) calls for an Article V Convention to impose term limits on Congress.
- HJ 11 United States Constitution – Amendments Convention – Limitations on Federal Power (FAILED) calls for an Article V Convention to impose fiscal restraints and limits of power and jurisdiction of the Federal government. It also calls for term limits on Federal officials
SB 241 Maryland Healthy Working Families Act - Applicability (FAILED) exempts county boards of education from having to provide earned sick leave to their substitute teachers. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 404 (HB 908) Labor and Employment - Maryland Healthy Working Families Act - Verification (FAILED) changes provisions in the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act that relate to notification to employers. Under existing law, verification of the use of Earned Sick Leave is based on mutually agreed upon terms between the employer and the employee. This bill nullifies that, completely, allowing the employer to unilaterally implement their own verification method and to deny a request for Earned Sick Leave. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 66 Income Tax - Credit for Small Businesses - State Minimum Wage Increase (FAILED) would provide a tax credit to businesses to offset their increased costs due to increases in the minimum wage. No action was taken on the bill.
SB 887 (HB 1545 Transition From Fossil Fuels - Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rate and Transition Account (FAILED) closes coal-fired power plants in Maryland on a phased-in schedule, with the first closings to occur by 2023. The bill commits money from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF) to retraining and a “transition” for impacted workers. The State Fed and affected affiliates initially asked the House and Senate sponsors for a summer study but were rebuffed. During the hearings, union members packed the committee rooms, in opposition to the bill. The State Fed provided, to union members, the contact information for committee members, so they could be contacted and lobbied to oppose the proposal. No further action was taken on the bill.
Workers’ Compensation – Fifteen bills affecting Workers’ Compensation were introduced, and five passed the General Assembly
SB 784 Workers' Compensation - Hernia Claims (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) expands the period from 30 to 45 days within which a covered employee must report to the employer a hernia caused at work.
SB 616 (HB 99) Labor and Employment - Injured Workers' Insurance Fund – Revisions (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR))requires the Injured Workers' Insurance Fund to be the third-party administrator for the State's Self-Insured Workers' Compensation Program for State Employees, who are under a contract with the State.
SB 8 Subsequent Injury Fund and Uninsured Employers’ Fund – Assessment on Awards and Settlements – Amount (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR)) is an administration bill that decreases the assessment imposed by the Commissioner of Labor Industry on an employer from 6.5% to 5.5% that they would pay to the subsequent injury fund.
HB 810 Workers' Compensation - Washington County - Volunteer Company - Fire and Rescue Academy Student (PAS ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR) SED) allows a member of a volunteer fire company who is at least 15 years old and who is enrolled in the Washington County Board of Education’s Fire and Rescue Academy Program to be eligible for Workers’ Compensation.
HB 685 Harford County – Workers’ Compensation – Permanent Partial Disability – Detention and Correctional Officers and Deputy Sheriffs (ENACTED WITHOUT GOVERNOR)) provides for enhanced Workers’ Compensation benefits for Harford County Deputy Sheriffs, Harford County Correctional Officers, and Harford County Detention Officers for permanent partial disability claims.
Unemployment Insurance – Nine bills were introduced that touched on Unemployment Insurance, but none of them addressed any, changes to UI. Since 2017 there has been no real attempt to update Maryland’s UI laws or increase benefits for affected workers. This will need to be a priority for the State Fed moving forward. The COVID-19 health crisis has revealed Maryland’s current lack of action on UI, as unemployment claims continue to climb while benefits remain unchanged for tens of thousands of newly laid-off workers.