Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits Could Place Undue Financial Burden on Local Governments

MACo Associate Director Andrea Mansfield and MML Director Government Relations Candace Donoho testified  in support of  HB 1228/SB 882 with amendments.  The proposed bills would provide an extended 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to Maryland’s long-term unemployed who have exhausted all of their State and federal emergency unemployment benefits.  The Federal government is providing 100% funding for private employers, but the State and many local governments are self-insured and would be required to pay…

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Senate Moves Bill on Ambulance Service Reimbursements

SB 154, sponsored by Senator Richard Colburn, which would ensure that county and volunteer fire companies and rescue squads are receiving reimbursements for providing this service is moving favorably through the Senate with MACo supported amendments. Depending upon the jurisdiction, these services may be provided by a local government, or a volunteer fire company or rescue squad.  Although some ambulance services may become a participating provider with a health network, they are not a member…

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Bill To Allow Direct Deposit for Employee Paychecks Passes Senate with MACo Supported Amendments

Senate Bill 484, sponsored by Senator Nancy King, which authorizes county and municipal governments to make direct deposits for employee wages passed the Senate with MACo supported amendments. The original bill only applied to municipal governments and during testimony at the bill hearing, MACo supported the bill and requested county governments be given the same authority.  As amended, the bill provides that counties and municipalities may require the direct deposit of wages as a condition…

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Anne Arundel Executive Challenges Binding Arbitration

In a January 24 Capital article, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold proposed legislation that would terminate binding arbitration for county police and firefighters.  He warned that the alternative could be higher income taxes or "draconian cuts." Although the county last year won pay concessions from an arbitrator, Leopold said he fears a decision against the county during tough financial times could devastate the balance sheets. "The taxpayers' interests trump the union's interests in this area," Leopold said. …

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Senator Reid Reintroduces Public Safety Collective Bargaining Bill

On November 30, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reintroduced the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act ( S.3991), which would grant collective bargaining rights to state and local police, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians and set minimum bargaining standards.  Senator Reid, the bill's sponsor, filed for cloture on the bill on December 6 but subsequently withdrew the motion.  The National Association of Counties (NACo) has issued an action alert urging counties to contact their Senators and express opposition to the bill.…

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Montgomery County Discusses Possible Salary, Benefit Cuts to All County Employees

The Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight released a report Tuesday, indicating that County government employees may be subject to pay cuts and decreased employer contributions to health and retirement plans in an effort to alleviate budget constraints.   Compiled at the request of the County Council, the report highlights that employee salaries and benefits are the major cost driver- totaling $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2011.  With more than a $300 million budget deficit for the 2012 fiscal year, the County is now considering including employees…

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Benefit Sustainability Commission Meets – Discusses Employee Compensation and Pension Changes in Other States

The Public Employees' and Retirees' Benefit Sustainability Commission held its first meeting on October 7 before a packed room in the House of Delegates office building.  In his opening comments, chair of the Commission and former House Speaker, Cas Taylor, stated they have an enormous amount of studying to do and an appropriate amount of time to do it.  He did express skepticism however, over whether the Commission will have proposed changes for the 2011…

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States Seeking to Reduce Pension Liabilities

At a time when states are facing large budget shortfalls, many are looking for ways to cut pension costs and use this savings to balance the state budget.  To achieve savings, benefits of employees not yet hired are being reduced, which allows a state to factor in the savings in the current term because it reduces the unfunded liability of the system in the future.  According to the New York Times, this practice has been…

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Benefit Sustainability Commission to Hold First Meeting in Next Few Weeks

After months of waiting, the Public Employees' and Retirees' Benefit Sustainability Commission has been appointed and as reported by MarylandReporter, is moving forward to put together a schedule and hold its first meeting, which could be the end of this month or the beginning of October.  The Commission is to study and make recommendations with respect to all aspects of State funded benefits and pensions provided to State and public education employees and retirees in…

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Appointments Named to Benefit Sustainability Commission

Governor Martin O'Malley, Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, and Speaker of the House Michael Busch recently announced appointments to the Public Employees' and Retirees' Benefit Sustainability Commission. The Commission is to study and make recommendations with respect to all aspects of State funded benefits and pensions provided to State and public education employees and retirees in the State. Appointments include: The Honorable Casper R. Taylor, Jr - Mr. Taylor, who will serve as chair,…

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