Gov. Hogan Proposes Alternative Paid Sick Leave Bill

Governor Hogan today announced that his administration will introduce “The Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018” as emergency legislation on the first day of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session. The bill, phased in over three years, would apply to employers with 50 or more employees in 2018, employers with 40 or more employees in 2019, and employers with 25 or more employees in 2020.

Under the proposal, businesses would be required to provide employees with at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. The Governor’s bill includes a provision to allow businesses that can demonstrate a significant financial hardship to apply for a hardship waiver, exempting them from the paid sick leave requirement.

Governor Hogan also announced a companion bill, which would provide $100M in tax incentives to small businesses to offset the costs of providing employees with paid sick leave.

Earlier this year, Governor Hogan vetoed  HB 1 / SB 230, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that would have required employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

Hogan had proposed a rival bill that would require paid sick and safe leave for businesses with 50 or more employees and provide tax incentives to smaller businesses that provide leave. Democrats rejected that approach, noting that large businesses typically already provide employees with paid sick leave.

The bill was passed by veto-proof margins in both the Senate and House of Delegates. The General Assembly could override the Governor’s veto when it reconvenes next January.

HB 1 / SB 230 would have also required county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Quick coverage from Hannah Marr on Twitter:

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more coverage, or contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo with any additional questions.

Useful Links

MACo Testimony on HB 1

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Governor Hogan Vetoes Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

Salisbury Files Lawsuit Against Volunteer Firefighters

The city of Salisbury has filed a lawsuit seeking the return of property and money from a group of volunteer firefighters who broke away. The dispute between the city and the firefighters cropped up in February when the volunteer firefighters at Salisbury’s Station 1 announced they would separate from the Salisbury Fire Department after the city refused to participate in formal mediation to settle disputes over station staffing.

The Daily Times of Salisbury reports:

The case filed in Wicomico County Circuit Court names Company 1 and 11 of its officers individually. It is the latest challenge in the firefighters’ efforts to start a new fire station and gain their own territory since they separated from the city in February.

The city is asking the court to grant a temporary restraining order to prohibit Company 1 from spending any public funds distributed by Wicomico County.

It also asks that Company 1 be compelled to produce an accounting of how it has spent any funds from public or charitable sources, and that an independent auditor be appointed to review records.

In March, the breakaway firefighters announced they were in the process of finding a new building with plans to take over a part of the county served by the city’s Station 1.

But a new fire service agreement between the city and county signed in April kept the boundaries of the Salisbury Fire Department’s coverage area intact.

All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. The evolution of volunteer fire companies presents both challenges and opportunities for county governments. At this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference, learn how Maryland counties are collaborating with volunteer fire companies to protect lives, property, and the environment.

Title: Together We Respond: A Collaborative Approach to Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Description: All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. As volunteer fire companies continue to evolve, it is critical for local governments to strengthen their relationships with local volunteer firefighters. This session will provide an overview of the challenges and best practices related to the volunteer fire service in Maryland. Speakers will discuss challenges in oversight and authority, recruiting and retaining volunteers, and funding for both volunteer companies and county governments.

Speakers:

  • Richard Devore, Director of Emergency Services, Allegany County
  • Tom Owens, EFO, Director/Chief, Division of Frederick County Fire & Rescue Services
  • Michael Faust, Second Vice President, Maryland State Fireman’s Association
  • Clarence “Chip” Jewell, Director/Deputy Chief, Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Moderator: The Honorable Johnny Mautz, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Maryland Apprenticeship Program On the Rise

State Looks to Expand Apprenticeships and Job-Training Programs

In an effort to expand apprenticeships in Maryland, Frederick County Public Schools and Washington County Public Schools are serving as pilot programs for Apprenticeship Maryland, a program designed to train young people and help employers hire skilled workers.

According to the Herald-Mail:

“The schools have been administering the program since mid-2016. They have seen firsthand that apprenticeships work, and they know the good they do for our state’s youth,” Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz said in a news release. “FCPS wants a larger role in that work, and we are happy to facilitate that.”

Under Apprenticeship Maryland, juniors and seniors are hired as apprentices by eligible employers. They work at least 450 hours. They earn a high school diploma and a state skill certificate.

Tweaks to the program have already allowed for more help to the schools and employers. Secretary Schulz notes that while the pilots are still being evaluated, it is already evident that flexibility will be key should the program be expanded statewide.

Read the full article for more information.

Amazon Delivers 1,500 Jobs to Baltimore County

Amazon is delivering more than 1,500 full-time jobs to a new 855,000 square foot fulfillment center in Baltimore County. Associates working at the $225 million facility under construction at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point will pick, pack and ship customer items such as electronics, books, housewares, and toys.

According to a press release:

“This is what job creation looks like: a world class company investing in the region, bringing 1,500 new jobs to Baltimore County. We are pleased to welcome Amazon to the growing list of companies with a Tradepoint Atlantic address,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Amazon joins Under Armour, FedEx Ground, Pasha Automotive, Access World, Harley Davidson and others as tenants of Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,100 acre development in eastern Baltimore County that is one of the largest economic development projects on the East Coast.

“We’re excited to open a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center in historic Sparrows Point and to continue innovating in a state committed to providing great opportunities for jobs and customer experience. Maryland has an incredible workforce, and we are happy to add to the more than 5,000 associates already serving customers in the state,” said Sanjay Shah, Amazon’s Vice President of North America Customer Fulfillment.

Read the full press release for more information.

Montgomery Council Passes Revised $15 Minwage

Following lengthy debate, a County Executive veto, a subsequent study and a series of compromise amendments, the Montgomery County Council unanimously adopted a phase-in to a $15 county minimum wage.

Find details of the legislation, or view the Council discussion and vote, online.

From the November 7 public hearings — and social media coverage of the long-awaited vote:

Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services: A Collaborative Approach At #MACoCon

All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. The evolution of volunteer fire companies presents both challenges and opportunities for county governments.  At this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference, learn how Maryland counties are collaborating with volunteer fire companies to protect lives, property, and the environment.

Together We Respond: A Collaborative Approach to Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Description: All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. As volunteer fire companies continue to evolve, it is critical for local governments to strengthen their relationships with local volunteer firefighters. This session will provide an overview of the challenges and best practices related to the volunteer fire service in Maryland. Speakers will discuss challenges in oversight and authority, recruiting and retaining volunteers, and funding for both volunteer companies and county governments.

Speakers:

  • Richard Devore, Director of Emergency Services, Allegany County
  • Tom Owens, EFO, Director/Chief, Division of Frederick County Fire & Rescue Services
  • Michael Faust, Second Vice President, Maryland State Fireman’s Association
  • Clarence “Chip” Jewell, Director/Deputy Chief, Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Finance Committee Holds Briefing On Controversial Collective Bargaining Bill

A panel of representing several Maryland community colleges voiced their objections over proposed legislation that would mandate a one-size-fits-all form of collective bargaining during a briefing held by the Senate Finance Committee. The briefing focused on failed legislation (SB 652/HB 871) from the 2017 General Assembly Session.

At the briefing, MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally explained that the move to collective bargaining outlined in this bill could create potentially unsustainable costs for counties, who provide substantial funding for community colleges throughout Maryland – especially since the legislation does not envision any added State support. Bernie Sadusky, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) told the Committee that the State has not been living up to its funding obligations, and that the added costs of collective bargaining would fall on counties and/or students, in the form of higher tuition rates.

State Senator Stephen Hershey expressed frustration with the proposal, telling fellow Committee Members that his constituent counties would be unable to afford the added costs resulting from mandated collective bargaining. Senator Hershey also addressed the lack of State funding for community colleges, he asked:

How can we pass a bill when we have no idea how to pay for it?

MACo opposed the 2017 legislation.

Representatives from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Maryland/DC American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), and Communication Workers of America (CWA) testified in support of the legislation.

Useful Links

HB 871/SB 652 of 2017

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

Unemployment Below 4% For First Time Since 2008

For the first time since 2008, Maryland’s unemployment rate fell below 4 percent in August – just below, to 3.9 percent. The state gained 14,200 jobs, with the private-sector adding 9,700 jobs. August is the fifth month this year to post over-the-month job gains.

The national average unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, placing Maryland ahead of the curve.

Governor Larry Hogan stated:

From day one, a top priority of our administration has been growing our private sector and creating more jobs and we have made incredible progress. In just two and a half years, Maryland has added more than 10 times more private sector jobs than were added in the previous 8 years, and the unemployment rate is at the lowest it has been in nearly a decade. We pledged to put our state on a new path and turn around our economy, and we are doing exactly that.

Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz said:

August’s job gains are the second-highest in the past seven years. Our regulatory reform and workforce development programs are creating opportunities for both business owners and job seekers, and the numbers reflect that. The Department of Labor is proud to do its part to ensure our citizens have jobs.

Government jobs increased by 4,500 positions. Leisure and hospitality suffered the largest decrease, losing 1,100 jobs.

Useful Links

State’s press release

Baltimore Business Journal coverage

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Report Calls for More Career & Technology Education at Montgomery County Schools

A study team is recommending that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) make more of an effort to prepare students for careers, not just for college. Education Strategy Group Fund, a consulting firm based in Chevy Chase, was hired by MCPS to analyze the district’s efforts to prepare students for an ever changing workforce.

According to The Washington Post,

Montgomery County has created “a clear and commendable culture of high expectations” in its public schools, but career preparation “has been marginalized as a priority, sometimes being inaccurately perceived as the antithesis of the college-going culture.” Presented to the school board Tuesday, the report recommended a string of changes, starting with a new vision for career readiness and more meaningful collaboration with key employers.

The 75-page report notes that enrollment in career and technology education lags behind the state average and that relatively few students — about 10 percent of 2016 graduates — complete a program, which requires multiple courses.

The study’s authors note that career and technology education (CTE) has widened in scope over the years, preparing students for jobs in health care and information technology as well as more traditional areas such as construction and automotive repair.

The consultants suggest that MCPS educate parents and students about career readiness opportunities and dispel the stigma associated with CTE programs. The study’s authors also note that MCPS does offer some top-notch CTE, but access to these programs is not consistent across the school system.

CTE should be redefined as offering rigorous academic coursework, state-of-the-art technical instruction, and real-world experiences, the report said. According to the consultants, in a 21st-century economy, more opportunities exist for workers with industry credentials, two-year college degrees, and other postsecondary certificates.

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, is reviewing statewide CTE programs as part of its charge to evaluate a wide range of issues relating to K-12 education in Maryland. Click here to read Kirwan Commission coverage on the Conduit Street blog.

For more information, read the full article from The Washington Post.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Pending Overtime Rule

A Texas federal judge has struck down the Obama Administration’s pending rule mandating that employers provide overtime for a far wider swath of salaried employees than previously. The decision, released today and first reported by Bloomberg news, prevents the rule from going into effect on December 1, after a previous ruling in November of 2016 put the rule on hold.

From coverage in The Hill:

In the ruling, first reported by Bloomberg, the judge wrote that the agency improperly looked at salaries instead of job descriptions when determining whether a worker should be eligible for overtime pay.

The rule would have required employers to pay overtime to most salaried workers who earn less than $47,476 annually, a sharp increase from the current annual salary limit of $23,660.

See previous Conduit Street coverage