2019 Legislative Wrap-up

2019 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY WRAP-UP

The 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly adjourned on April 8, 2019.  The session concluded on a sad note with the passing of longtime Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch.  

Following the November elections, 17 new Senators and 43 new Delegates took their seats at the beginning of the session in January which changed the composition of many of the House and Senate committees. In addition, several new committee chairs were appointed which dramatically changed the philosophy of those groups. During the 90-day session, 2,480 bills were introduced and debated. ABC examined each bill to determine if they had an impact on the merit construction industry and if so, what actions were needed to support or oppose these initiatives.

All in all, it was a very busy, impactful and challenging session for ABC.  Here is a review of the major bills lobbied on by the ABC team.  If you have questions or need copies of a bill, please contact our office at 410-267-0347.

H.B. 24- Public Works Contracts-Contractor Occupational Health and Safety Requirements
The bill would have created additional regulations and requirements on safety related issues, most of which are already covered by MOSH and OSHA laws. In addition, it would have established a rating system based on a company’s safety history which would have made it more difficult for companies to bid on state work.
ABC OPPOSED.  BILL DEFEATED.

H.B. 521- Procurement Preferences- Maryland Child Care Act

Would have provided preferences for companies providing child care services to their employees. ABC has a general position of opposing preferences being provided based on social issues unrelated to the ability to perform the work.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

H.B. 1236- State Contracts- Certification of Pay Equity Compliance- Requirement
Would have created a new certification program for contractors who may do business with the State and require substantial verification of compensation information with penalties included. An additional administrative burden on companies wishing to do business
with the State.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

S.B.433- State Funded Projects- Payment of Employee Health Care Expenses
Employers who do not offer health insurance and are bidding on a prevailing wage project will meet the requirement of the bill by paying their employees the fringe benefit rate as additional wages. A study undertaken last year determined that close to 80% of contractors who already bid on state work currently provide health insurance coverage to their employees. This bill is aimed at those who do not.  ABC fought to make this bill as palatable as possible to the industry throughout the 90-day session.
ABC OPPOSED THE BILL AS DRAFTED AND SUPPORTED AMENDMENTS WHICH LESSENED THE IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY. BILL PASSED.

LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT 
H.B. 126- Right to Work
Would have made Maryland a right to work state.
ABC SUPPORTED. BILL DEFEATED.

 H.B. 166- Minimum Wage Increase
Phases in increases to the minimum wage until reaching $15 per hour in 2025. For an employer that employs 14 or fewer employees it extends the phase in period for an additional year thus reaching $15 per hour in 2026. ABC expressed opposition to the bill based on two factors; wage rates can vary dramatically based on which part of the state you are working in and secondly, ABC was concerned about the impact the minimum wage increase would have on our apprenticeship programs.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL PASSED.

H.B. 341- Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
The bill would have established a Family and Medical Leave Insurance program which would have provided up to 12 weeks of benefits to an employee to care for family members, the employee’s own serious health condition or a military deployment. The bill would have created a Fund consisting of employer and employee contributions based on the employee’s wages. There were no specifics in the bill indicating how much the employer would be required to pay.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

H.B.634- Wage History and Wage Range
The bill would have required an employer to provide to an applicant the wage range for the position being applied for and would prohibit an employer from screening or considering an application based on his or her wage history or
seek wage history from the applicant.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

 H.B. 794- Discrimination Against Medical Cannabis Patients and Caregivers-Prohibition
The bill would have prohibited an employer from discriminating against a qualifying patient who is using medical cannabis in hiring, terminating or imposing a term or condition of employment. This is important information that the employer needs to maintain a safe working environment for all the employees working on a project.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

H.B.994- Criminal Record Screening Practices (Ban the Box)
The bill prohibits an employer with 15 or more full-time employees from including on a paper or electronic application form a question regarding whether the applicant has a criminal record or has had criminal accusations brought against the applicant. The bill was amended to allow an employer to require an applicant to disclose during the first in-person interview with the applicant if he or she has a criminal record or has had criminal accusations brought against the applicant. The amendment addressed most of the concerns expressed by ABC.
ABC OPPOSED AS DRAFTED. BILL PASSED.

S.B. 329- Wage Payment and Collection Law- Awards of Fees and Costs

The bill would have authorized the court to award the Attorney General reasonable counsel fees and costs if it is found that an employer withheld the wage of an employee in violation of the State’s Wage and Payment Collection Law.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

S.B.516- Clean Energy Jobs
ABC took no action on the bill as drafted. Amendments were adopted on the Senate floor which added a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on off-shore wind projects, worker residency and scheduling requirements. 
ABC OPPOSED. BILL PASSED.

S.B.959- Wage Payment and Collection- General Contractor
The bill would have amended legislation passed last year which made a general contractor on a project for construction services jointly and severally liable for wage violations committed by a subcontractor. S.B. 959 would have created a 180-day window for the contractor to resolve the issue before the employee can bring an action against the employer in court.
ABC SUPPORTED. BILL DEFEATED.

TRANSPORTATION 
H.B.91- Public-Private Partnerships (P3)- Presolicitation Reports- Environmental Impact Statement Required
The bill would have prohibited specified state agencies from submitting a pre-solicitation report for a P3 Project until a draft environmental impact statement that complies with federal requirements is available. This bill was intended to stop or delay the Governor’s proposal addressing traffic congestion on I-495 and I-270.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

H.B.663- Public Private Partnerships (P3s)- Real Property Acquisition- Prohibition
The bill would have prohibited a state agency from acquiring any residential real property for a P3 project that includes the addition of toll lanes to I-95 and I-270. This bill was also introduced to deter the Governor’s proposal to address traffic congestion on these two major interstate highways.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.


CONSTRUCTION 
H.B.1231- Real Property- Construction Contracts- Retention Proceeds
The bill increases the number of construction contracts that are subject to a 5% cap on retention proceeds by lowering the threshold from $250,000 to $100,000. It also specifies that retention proceeds retained by an owner must be paid within 90 days after the date of substantial completion.
ABC SUPPORTED. BILL PASSED.


PREVAILING WAGE 
H.B.524- Public Works Contracts- Suits by Employees
This bill passed in 2018 and vetoed by the Governor. The bill was introduced again in the 2019 session. The bill authorizes an employee under a public work contract who is paid less than the appropriate prevailing wage to sue to recover the difference in wages paid without first filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL PASSED.


APPRENTICESHIP/TRAINING 
H.B.440- Pathways In Technology Early College High (P-Tech) Expansion Act Of 2019
The bill allows for the award of three new P-TECH planning grants in fiscal 2020.
ABC SUPPORTED. BILL PASSED.
 

TAXES/CREDITS 
H.B. 111- Income Tax Credit- Agency Shop Fees and Unions Dues
The bill would have created a tax credit against the State income tax for an individual who pays specified agency shop fees and union dues. This means the taxpayers of Maryland would be subsidizing the payment of fees and dues by union members.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.

H.B.1098- Health Insurance- Maryland Health Benefit Exchange- Small Business Tax Credit Subsidy
The bill allows the State to administer certain tax credit assistance programs to small businesses and employers involved in the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Program.
ABC SUPPORTED. BILL PASSED.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE 

H.B.1128- Contribution and Employment Reports- Required Information
The bill would have required additional information be submitted with an employer’s unemployment insurance program including the occupation and job title of each employee, the number of hours each employee has worked during the calendar quarter, and the location at which the employee works.
ABC OPPOSED. BILL DEFEATED.