Conduit Street Podcast: County Collaboration on Tax Reform, Lockbox Redux, Employer Mandates, and Bad Docs

The MACo Legislative Committee formally adopted a statement this week to express its views on broad-based tax reform proposals pending before the General Assembly, designed to react (in various ways) to the recently enacted federal tax reforms. Absent state action, some Maryland taxpayers would see an increase in their state and county tax liability — the potential means to offset these changes sit before the legislature in multiple variations of changes to deductions, exemptions, rates, and brackets — each with distinct distributional effects.

Governor Larry Hogan this week announced a “lockbox” proposal to ensure that taxes on casino revenues set aside for education are used to supplement, not supplant state funding for public schools. Last month, legislature leadership announced a plan to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The ballot question would ask voters to approve of putting a “lockbox” on casino money (around $500M per year), requiring it to be used for education above the amount set by state formulas. The Governor’s proposal would not require a referendum, it would be done through statute.

The House Economic Matters Committee voted down SB 304, Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation, which would have delayed implementation of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act until July 1. The vote was 12-11. The focus now turns to a new wave of employer mandate proposals.

A proposal to strengthen Maryland’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is likely to spur a debate over who should have access to the database and under what circumstances. As heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland, County Health Officers could play a vital role in sharing vital information and best practices with identified prescribers, and increase awareness and improve intervention efforts in cases of patients who may be doctor shopping.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down MACo’s position on broad-based tax reform proposals, discuss the competing education “lockbox” initiatives, examine employer mandate proposals, preview the looming debate on Maryland’s PDMP, and more!

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.

House Committee Kills Bill to Delay Implementation of Paid Sick Leave Law

The House Economic Matters Committee voted down SB 304, Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation, which would have delayed implementation of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act until July 1. The vote was 12-11.

The Senate approved the legislation last week, after Senate Finance Chairman and chief sponsor of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton introduced the bill to delay enforcement of the new law. MACo testified in support of the bill.

The General Assembly passed HB 1 last year with veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate. Governor Hogan vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly overrode the veto in the early days of the 2018 legislative session. The law, which requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year, took effect on February 11, 2018— 30 days after the legislature overrode the veto.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act requires 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.

MACo has received several requests from county governments regarding the law’s provisions. At the same time, county governments are receiving questions about the law from members of the business community.

By law, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry will carry out this provision. The Governor’s Executive Order of January 15 created the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance, which will assist with implementation of the Act.

In the meantime, for general information about the law’s provisions, see this HB 1 – Summary.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Passes Bill to Delay Implementation of Paid Sick Leave Law

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Governor Hogan Vetoes Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: New Proposal Seeks to Delay Enforcement of Sick Leave Law

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Both county and municipal governments, still feeling the permanent effects of devastating cutbacks to state roadway funding, have made restoring Highway User Revenues a perennial legislative priority.  HB 1569, introduced today, represents a compromise between counties and municipalities, whereby all local governments would have their local share of Highway User Revenues fully restored.

A law requiring employers to provide employees with sick leave will go into effect on Sunday, despite a veto last year from Governor Larry Hogan and a last-ditch effort by the state Senate to delay its implementation. The law requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) (SB 285/HB 634), one of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Priorities, had a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee this week. Counties from across the state sent public safety professionals to stress the importance of advancing NG911 in Maryland.

The General Assembly is on pace to introduce more than 4,000 bills in 2018. With “crossover” just five weeks away, legislators are scrambling to meet the deadline.

Senator Ed Kasemeyer, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, announced he does not intend to seek re-election to another term. His decision would leave yet another member of the powerful fiscal panel uncertain for the next four-year term.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down the compromise on Highway User Revenues, discuss the paid sick leave law, recap the NG911 hearing, preview big changes on the horizon for the Maryland Senate, and more!

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.

 

Counties Support Expanding Tech Internship Programs

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified before the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 527, “Higher Education – Maryland Technology Internship Program – Alterations,” on February 8, 2018. The bill enables counties to participate in the Maryland Technology Internship program.

Currently, the Maryland Technology Internship Program connects college and university students, recent graduates, and veterans with small innovative businesses in the high-growth technology sector through internships. The Program incentivizes businesses to participate by offering a stipend of up to 50% for each paid intern. HB 527 would expand the current Program by authorizing the State and local governments to participate in the same way as technology-based businesses.

From the MACo testimony:

Counties are invested in having strong and vibrant economies. A robust, well-trained, and educated workforce encourages businesses to locate to and grow in Maryland. This bill helps encourage high-achieving students at Maryland institutions of higher education to remain in the state after graduation.

The bill properly leaves the decision for establishing a program in the hands of local governments, who are best situated to determine whether a program is in their best interest. If a program is established, it requires both the county and the State to split the costs for paid interns, disbursing financial burdens and ensuring that the State is equally invested in the advancement of its students and workforce.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Senate Passes Bill to Delay Implementation of Paid Sick Leave Law

The Maryland Senate today passed Senate Bill 304 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation. Senate Finance Chairman and chief sponsor of a new law requiring most employers to provide workers with sick leave, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton introduced the bill to delay enforcement of the new law. The final vote was 29-17.

The original version of the bill sought to delay implementation for 60 days after February 11, when the law is set to take effect.However, the bill was amended to delay implementation until July 1, 2018. It’s an emergency bill, which would require a three-fifths vote in both the Senate and the House of Delegates to pass. MACo testified in support of the bill.

Earlier this month, the General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year. Under state law, gubernatorial vetoes overridden by the General Assembly become law in 30 days.

HB 1 would also require 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.

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

Baltimore County Launches $2.5M Workforce Initiative

Job Connector will help workers get “job ready” to fill vacancies

Baltimore County has launched Job Connector, an innovative $2.5 million workforce program designed to assure employers have a workforce ready to fill high-demand jobs in high-demand fields. With over $5 billion in new economic development projects in the County, companies are hiring, but chronic shortages of qualified workers remain in many fields.

According to a press release:

“We are bringing an employer-focused, supply-and-demand strategy to workforce development,” said [County Executive Kevin] Kamenetz.

The Job Connector Difference

Most government workforce development systems start with the job seeker. This often leads to people completing training and getting certifications in fields where there are no local job openings.

Job Connector starts by looking at the specific jobs and skills that are needed in the Baltimore region. This results in a better match between employer and job seeker, and more certain career paths for employees who want to know that their hard work and skills can lead to promotions and higher wage jobs.

“With low unemployment and a tight job market, companies are ready to hire today. Job Connector can reduce the gap between the skills job seekers have and the skills employers need,” said Kamenetz.

The County-funded initiative will start with programs in healthcare, corporate operations/customer service, and trade apprenticeships in fields allied with business growth at Tradepoint Atlantic on Sparrows Point.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development is partnering with employers, the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), business, union and trade groups to develop flexible, rapid response training and expanded apprenticeship programs.

High Demand Jobs

Research prepared for the Baltimore County Workforce Development Board identified nine key industries that will drive 75% of the job growth in Baltimore County over the next decade: Healthcare, Corporate Operations/Customer Service, Construction, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Federal Agencies, Port/Logistics/Distribution, Education, and Information Technology.

Baltimore County’s American Job Centers at Liberty Center, Hunt Valley and Eastpoint will deploy customized tool kits to help career counselors guide job seekers to training and job openings in these high-demand fields.

“As Job Connector moves forward, we will be expanding our work with Baltimore County Public Schools and higher education partners, as well as reaching out to trade associations, the faith community and other partners to multiply our efforts,” said Will Anderson, director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development.

Read the full press release for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast: New Tax Analysis, Paid Leave Dilemma, Fiscal Outlook, and More!

The Comptroller’s Office on Thursday held a briefing on its analysis of the impact of federal legislation on Maryland revenues. Meanwhile, Governor Larry Hogan unveiled his plans to protect Marylanders from state and local tax increases resulting from the recent federal tax overhaul.

On Monday, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) delivered its annual fiscal briefing to the General Assembly budget committees. Occurring right on the heels of the federal government shutdown, the tone was markedly different from the Governor’s budget proposal announcement.

Also this week, Senate Finance Chairman and chief sponsor of a new law requiring most employers to provide workers with sick leave, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton introduced a bill to delay enforcement of the new law. While most state legislators would seemingly support the legislation, its passage is far from certain.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down the Comptroller’s report, analyze the latest news on paid leave, examine the fiscal plan for the year ahead, highlight hot-button budget issues, and more!

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen Here:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.

60-Day Delay of Paid Leave Implementation Put on the Table

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally, testified in support of Senate Bill 304, “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Enforcement – Delayed Implementation”, which would delay the enforcement of compliance with the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act for 60 days.

The House and Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of the paid leave bill on January 12, which gave those affected 30 days to comply. This legislation would extend the compliance date 60 days to April 12.

From MACo Testimony:

County decision-making is, for obvious purposes, a public and deliberative process. Counties adopting new personnel policies must go through hearings and opportunities for public comment prior to their adoption. This process, by its nature, will take weeks to complete – even for those jurisdictions that had policy re-writes “ready to go” on the day the new state law was adopted by the General Assembly.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

New Proposal Seeks to Delay Enforcement of Sick Leave Law

Senate Finance Chairman and chief sponsor of a new law requiring most employers to provide workers with sick leave, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton on Tuesday introduced a bill to delay enforcement of the new law. The bill would delay implementation for 60 days after February 11, when the law is set to take effect.

It’s an emergency bill, which would require a three-fifths majority in both the Senate and the House of Delegates to pass.

Under the proposal, the state will not assess penalties against employers for failure to comply with the new law until April. However, while Senator Middleton believes the extension is necessary to give both the state and employers more time to prepare, eligible employees will still begin accruing earned leave on February 11.

Earlier this month, the General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that requires employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year. Under state law, gubernatorial vetos overridden by the General Assembly become law in 30 days.

HB 1 would also require 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.

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 (Maryland Healthy Working Families Act)

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: General Assembly Overrides Hogan’s Paid Sick Leave Veto

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Gov. Hogan Proposes Alternative Paid Sick Leave Bill

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

Mayor Pugh Appoints New Police Chief

Citing the need to reduce violence and restore citizen confidence, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh on Friday announced she is replacing Commissioner Kevin Davis as head of the City’s police force.

Deputy Commissioner Darryl D. DeSousa, the top commander in the police department’s patrol bureau, will take Davis’ place, effectively immediately.

According to a statement from Mayor Pugh:

“The fact is, we are not achieving the pace of progress that our residents have every right to expect in the weeks since we ended what was nearly a record year for homicides in the City of Baltimore. As such, I have concluded that a change in leadership is needed at police headquarters.

I firmly believe that Commissioner-Designate DeSousa has the ideas, approach and demonstrated track record that will enable him to lead an accelerated effort to get criminals off our streets, reduce violence and restore safety – and peace of mind – throughout our neighborhoods.

As one who has come up through the ranks, Commissioner-Designate DeSousa is widely respected by his fellow officers. Moreover, I have come to know him well during this past year given his leadership role in implementing the Violence Reduction Initiative and through our numerous other interactions.

I am grateful to Commissioner Davis for all that he has done to implement the initiatives underway to address violent crime at it root causes. I speak for the entire community in expressing our admiration and gratitude for his service to Baltimore and for his leadership of the women and men who put their lives on the line to serve and protect our citizens.”

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.