MACo, Counties Defend Autonomy On Labor Issues

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally, testified in opposition to House Bill 317, “Labor and Employment – Wages and Benefits – Preemption of Local Authority,” before the House Economic Matters Committee on February 7, 2017. This legislation would prevent local governments from increasing wages and benefits above state levels.

From the MACo testimony,

Counties oppose the one-size-fits-all approach of HB 317, which limits local decision-making. The preemption of local authority outlined in this bill would significantly undermine a local government’s ability to implement policies that reflect the diversity of local economies. This troubling trend of states restraining local autonomy is a disservice to voters who deserve responsive and accountable governance.

Montgomery County and Baltimore City officials also expressed concerns over the legislation during their testimony.

Baltimore City Council Members Clarke, Burnett, Sneed, and Dorsey testify against HB 317
Baltimore City Council Members Clarke, Burnett, Sneed, and Dorsey testify against HB 317

From the Baltimore City testimony,

“We’ve given no just cause to this committee or the general assembly for preemption and request the committee to reject the lure of unwarranted national intrusion and the traditional balance between the state of Maryland and its local subdivisions. Baltimore City must act responsibly to close the growing economic gap between the haves and the have-nots in our city’s workforce.”

From the Montgomery County testimony,

“This is an unwarranted and unwise preemption of fundamental local government responsibility. Our county is not the same as Garrett County, and Baltimore City is not the same St. Mary’s County. Local wages and benefits should be responsive to local conditions. The cost of living in Montgomery County is obviously a lot higher than in other parts of the state.”

Proponents of the bill said uniformity in wages and benefits would ensure a level playing field for all Maryland businesses.

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Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.