2015 End of Session Wrap Up: Employee Benefits

This post summarizes the status of bills concerning employee benefits that MACo took a position on during the 2015 Regular Session. Sick LeaveHB 385/ SB 40 Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act would have required large employers and county governments to provide paid sick leave at a normal rate of pay for employees, including full‐time and part‐time employees, at a rate of 1 hour per every 30 hours worked. Small employers would be required to provide unpaid sick leave at the same rate. The bill expands the definition of “family members” in state law and includes new allowable circumstances for taking sick leave, including recovery and treatment for domestic violence. MACo opposed the bill stating that while counties generally provide substantially more sick leave and parental leave than the legislation prescribes for full time employees, they do not all provide the same benefits to part-time workers. Extending such leave benefits to part-time employees would require counties to make administrative changes and incur additional costs; however, the larger concern is the potential operational inefficiency. FINAL STATUS: The bill failed to move out of House or Senate Committees, however the Chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Economic Matters Committees wrote a letter urging supporters and opponents to come together during the legislative interim and report back to the committees in the fall. MACo has been in touch with the bill’s advocates and will be a part of interim discussions. MACo Testimony HB 385 / SB 40 Medical Stop-Loss Insurance:  HB 552/SB 703 Health Insurance – Medical Stop-Loss Insurance – Small Employers makes several changes to laws regulating the medical self-insurance market. One of these changes in particular, an increase in the minimum attachment point for medical stop-loss insurance policies, creates potential cost increases for small businesses and small local governments who self-insure their health insurance expenses. MACo and the Maryland Municipal League’s recently formed Maryland Local Government Health Cooperative would also be negatively affected by the legislation. MACo opposed the legislation, noting its negative effect on the Maryland Local Government Health Cooperative and advocating for a local government exemption from the law pending a study of the subject. The House and Senate Committee’s amended the bill to protect all existing members of the Cooperative from cost increases, and committed to study the legislation’s effect on local governments. FINAL STATUS: The bill was passed by the General Assembly in its amended form and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. The Chairmen of the House Health and Government Operations and Senate Finance Committees plan to send a letter to the Maryland Insurance Administration regarding the required study of the legislation’s potential effect on local governments and faith-based entities. MACo will track the study and seek county government representation. For more information, see our previous posts. MACo Testimony on HB 552 / SB 703 Third reader bill passed by the House