2014 Legislative Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits & Relations

This post summarizes the status of bills MACo tracked on employee benefits and relations in the 2014 Legislative Session.

Labor and Employment – Minimum Wage – Establishment by Counties HB 293/SB 273 authorizes a county to establish a minimum wage rate for employees working in the county. The bill also provides that the State of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation will enforce county-set minimum wages. Under current law, charter counties have the ability to set their own minimum wages. MACo supported this legislation that extends minimum wage autonomy to all Maryland counties and provides enforcement support from the State. Status: HB 293 received an unfavorable report from the House Economic Matters Committee and SB 273 was not voted by the Senate Finance Committee.

Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 HB 295/SB 331 increases the Statewide minimum wage to $10.10 over the next four years.  The bill creates exemptions for tipped workers, workers under 20 years of age for the first six months of their employment, and workers at amusements parks. It also increases the minimum wage for community direct service workers.  The legislation does not affect the authority of charter counties to set their own minimum wages. For more information, see our post, Senate Passes Minimum Wage Legislation. Status: HB 295 was passed by the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. 

Commissioner of Labor and Industry – Authority – Enforcement of Local Minimum Wage Laws HB579 requires the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to enforce a local minimum wage laws. The legislation reduces expenditures by charter counties from no longer having to enforce their local minimum wage laws.  Currently Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have local minimum wage laws. Status: HB 579 was passed by the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Labor and Employment – Maryland Sick and Safe Leave Act HB 968/SB 753 expands the definition of family members beyond current uses and includes a broad array of circumstances for taking sick leave. Even though county governments generally offer generous benefits and leave policies, these mandates would be inefficient and difficult. MACo opposed the legislation. Status: HB 968/SB 753 were not voted by committee and therefore did not proceed further.

State and Local Retirement and Pension Systems – Assignment  of Benefits to Trust for Disabled Individuals HB 1201/SB 403 provides that a retiree or beneficiary of a county or State retirement system may have their retirement allowance assigned to a special needs trust established for their benefit. MACo opposed the legislation which would have complicated retirement plan administration and created new financial and administrative burdens, including the need for outside legal counsel. Status: HB 1201 received an unfavorable report from the House Appropriations Committee and SB 403 was not voted by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

For more information on the bills in this article, contact Robin Clark or (410) 269-0043.