States Need to Prepare for Rising Unemployment Insurance Claims

Unemployment insurance is a critical component of the governmental response to COVID-19, but states are now seeing an unprecedented number of claims that will tax state unemployment funds beyond their limits. At the federal level, there is much support for expanding eligibility criteria and providing for extended benefits, both funded by the federal government. although the majority of initial costs are borne by the state. From Tax Foundation: State payroll taxes, called SUTA taxes, fund…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits and Relations

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of employee benefits and employee relations in the 2020 General Assembly.  MACo advocates for fair state laws governing employment practices, labor representation, and employer-employee relationships. MACo becomes particularly engaged when a proposal has a disproportionate or unique effect on public sector employees – frequently those affecting public safety employees or other public workers who engage in sensitive functions. This year, for the…

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Costly, Unbalanced Pension Enhancement Bill Dies in Committee

A costly, unbalanced pension enhancement bill did not receive a vote in the House Appropriations Committee, and therefore died when the General Assembly adjourned sine die. For county governments that participate in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System (LEOPS), HB 659 would have required an automatic increase in county law enforcement pension benefits, and a new variable in county government pension contributions. The bill proposed to increase the normal service retirement benefit multiplier for members…

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Burdensome Ban the Box Legislation Stalls in Committee
Peggy_Marco (CC0), Pixabay
Burdensome Ban the Box Legislation Stalls in Committee

MACo opposed bill, HB 586 - Public Safety - Criminal History Records Check - Fire Departments, Rescue Squads, and Ambulance Services (CF SB 1008), was not voted out of the Judiciary Committee and therefore died at Sine Die. This bill would have prohibited a fire department, rescue squad, or an ambulance service from requiring an applicant to disclose their criminal record or criminal accusations before the first in-person interview. The legislation would also have placed…

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County Leaders Urge Use of Schools For Essential Staff Childcare Services

In a letter to Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, leaders from Maryland's largest jurisdictions are urging her to allow the use of closed schools for child care services for essential staff and health care workers during this coronavirus crisis. As detailed in the letter: As you know, every county in Maryland is working to put in place child care services for our essential staff and health workers during the school closure period. We…

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Public Safety Employers Shouldn’t “Ban the Box”

On March 12, 2020, MACo Policy Associate Drew Jabin submitted testifimony to the House Judiciary Committee to oppose SB 1008 (CF HB 586) - Public Safety – Criminal History Records Check – Fire Departments, Rescue Squads, and Ambulance Services. MACo staff and Carroll County Commission President Steve Wantz also testified earlier this session to oppose the cross-filed House Bill 586. This bill prohibits a fire department, rescue squad, or an ambulance service from requiring an applicant…

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Local Seafood Industry Still Seeing Worker Shortages

The Chesapeake Bay area seafood industry is still concerned over worker shortages for the upcoming season that begins April 1. The industry says the current H-2B visa system is damaging their businesses and could lead to closures. As previously reported on Conduit Street, in January, Governor Hogan sent a letter to the Trump Administration requesting more visas in response to labor shortages, estimating that without more visas there could be permanent damage to the $355…

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Counties Still Oppose Mandate for Court Collective Bargaining

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu submitted written testimony on March 3, 2020 to the House Appropriations Committee to oppose HB 1134 (CF SB 388) – Circuit Courts and District Court of Maryland Employees – Collective Bargaining. Ms, Mehu previously testified before the Senate to oppose the cross-filed Senate Bill 388. This bill would establish collective bargaining for Circuit Court and District Court clerical, administrative, constabulary, maintenance, and housekeeping staff. From MACo Testimony: The move to collective…

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MACo Opposes Proposed Fee Shifting in Workers’ Compensation Cases

On March 3, 2020, MACo Policy Associate Drew Jabin testified before the House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee along with Anne Arundel Deputy County Attorney Hamilton Taylor and Bill Jorch from the Maryland Municipal League to oppose SB 619 (CF HB 767) - Workers’ Compensation – Fees for Legal Services. This bill would upend the basic structure of workers’ compensation law and potentially leave counties and other employers liable for payment of…

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MACo Opposes Court Collective Bargaining Mandate

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified on February 20, 2020 before the Senate Finance and Judicial Proceedings Committee to oppose SB 388 - Circuit Courts and District Court of Maryland Employees – Collective Bargaining. This bill would establish collective bargaining for Circuit Court and District Court clerical, administrative, constabulary, maintenance, and housekeeping staff. From MACo Testimony: The move to collective bargaining outlined in this bill will lead to unknown and potentially significant cost increases to…

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