How Did Maryland Small Business Fare During the 2016 Legislative Session?

Date: April 25, 2016 Last Edit: May 04, 2016

2016 Maryland General Assembly Review of Major Legislation

Mandated Paid Sick Leave – HB580/SB472
Outcome: Died in Senate Finance Committee after passing the House.
Summary: Paid sick leave got further than it is ever had passing the House of Delegates with less than a week to go in the legislative session. As passed the House, the bill would have required employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave per year. Employers with less than 15 employees would have to provide unpaid leave. In both cases, employees 18 or older that work an average of 8 hours per week would be eligible for leave. Agricultural workers, unionized construction workers and employees working fewer than 90 days per year would be exempt.
Note: This legislation will be reintroduced next year with increased odds of passage. If this proposed mandate will impact your business please contact us.

State-Run Retirement Planning – SB1007/HB1378
Outcome: Passed. Expected to become law.
Summary: The legislature passed a heavily amended retirement bill for the private sector. Any employer using an automatic payroll system who does not offer a retirement plan to their employees will be required to offer a state-run retirement plan. All employers that currently offer retirement plans or those offering the new state-run plan will receive an exemption from the Department of Assessments and Taxation’s annual $300 filing fee. Employers offering the state-run plan are free of any fiduciary responsibility. All employees will be automatically enrolled unless they elect to opt out. The penalty for not offering an employee retirement savings program is forfeiture of the filing fee waiver.

Income Tax Relief and Increase to Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – SB840
Outcome: Died in Conference Committee
Summary: Both the House and Senate passed their own tax relief packages. The Senate version spread roughly $300 million in tax cuts across all tax brackets providing relief for small business owners paying business taxes on their personal income tax returns. It also increased the value of the State’s personal income tax emption for certain filers. Both the House and Senate chose to increase the amount and expand eligibility for taxpayers claiming the EITC. The House’s tax cuts focused on middle to lower income earners. Ultimately, negotiations failed and plans for tax relief were shelved.
Note: Negotiations failed on the final day of session when it was reported that House conferees demanded paid sick leave legislation pass the Senate before any tax relief was agreed to. It is expected these negotiations will continue with the 2017 legislative session.

“Equal Pay” – HB1003/SB481
Outcome: Passed. Expected to become law.
Summary: An amended version of HB1003/SB481 passed this year after prior attempts fell short. The bill expands the State’s equal pay law to prohibit wage discrimination based on gender identity. Additionally, an employer may not provide less favorable employment opportunities (assigning an employee less favorable position, tasks, etc.) based on gender or gender identity. An employee must prove the employer knew or reasonably should have known their actions were discriminatory if the employee is to prevail in a court action.
Note: The bill was amended to include the high standard of “knew or reasonably should have known” in order to protect employers from frivolous lawsuits. The statute of limitations was also amended to ensure against an employee filing a lawsuit more than three years after leaving employment.

Personal Property Tax Credit – HB69
Outcome: Passed. Expected to become law.
Summary: This bill allows a county or municipal government to provide up to a 50% property tax credit on personal property that is owned or leased by a business that has been in operation for less than two years or has 15 employees or less.

“Fair Scheduling” – HB1175/SB664
Outcome: Died in committee.
NFIB Position:  OPPOSE
Summary: The proposed bill would have required employers to post employee work schedules three weeks in advance of a shift. Any changes made to the schedule within those three weeks require the employer to pay an hour of “predictability pay” for each shift affected. Changes or cancellations made within 24 hours would require four hours of “predictability pay.” Additionally, an employer would be required to offer any extra hours of work to current employees before they are allowed to hire new employees, temps, or subcontractors.

Poultry Litter Management Bill – SB496/HB599
Outcome: Died in committee.
Summary: This bill would have fundamentally changed how poultry producers and their contract growers operate by shifting control and responsibility of poultry litter used for agricultural and commercial purposes. It would have also required additional recordkeeping and permitting by producers and growers. Additionally, this bill would have instituted severe criminal and civil penalties.

Related Content: Small Business News | Maryland

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