2017 Legislative Session: What’s Ahead for the Construction Industry?

Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) represents more than 1500 construction and construction-related companies through its four Maryland chapters. ABC plays an active role in advocating on behalf of the organization’s diverse membership in the Maryland General Assembly. Through the work of the ABC Joint Legislative Committee (JLC) and our lobbying team, ABC reviews and acts on literally hundreds of bills each year. Though 2016 set a record for the number of bills introduced during any legislative session, ABC is expecting to stay equally busy during the 2017 legislative session. There are several legislative initiatives we can almost certainly expect to see this year.

Sick and Safe

As local news headlines have indicated, the dominant issue impacting Maryland’s business community this year will be the proposal of a mandatory, statewide paid “sick and safe” leave law. In 2016, the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act” narrowly failed to pass in the final days of the legislative session and Democratic leadership has made it clear that passage of a paid “sick and safe” leave measure is a top priority for the upcoming session.

Maryland’s Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, has announced that his administration will pursue its own paid leave legislation this year. While many see the Governor’s bill as a shrewd move, democrats are expected to make a heavy push to pass their own, less business-friendly bill and try to force the Governor to choose whether he will veto or sign the legislation.

The Road Kill Bill

Also in the news is Governor Hogan’s stated number one priority—to repeal what his Administration has dubbed the “Road Kill Bill”, a law passed in 2016 which he claims stifles the ability of his Administration to allocate funding for major road infrastructure improvements.  The Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016, a measure primarily driven by Democrats, sets forth “goals and measures” that the MD Department of Transportation must use to prioritize transportation projects for funding. The governor argues that the prioritization scheme prevents his Administration from funding essential infrastructure projects on roads and bridges and instead favors financing of more expensive projects in large jurisdictions.

The quarrel over the “Road Kill Bill” will play out alongside difficult budget negotiations following announcements that spending will exceed projected revenues for the coming fiscal year by about $400 million. While Governor Hogan is expected to introduce a budget that will make significant reductions in discretionary spending in order to reduce the State’s structural deficit, Democrats will likely attempt to preserve their interests by shifting money towards priorities like education and public health care, as well as imposing measures that will boost revenues.

Other Small Business Priorities

More issues expected to arise during the 2017 legislation session include: tax credits for employment of apprentices; reducing locally-imposed personal property taxes on small businesses; a $15 minimum wage; limiting employers’ ability to adjust employee schedules; and expansion of projects subject to prevailing wage law.