Of Narrow Misses and Near Escapes:

Despite a Rash of Bad Bills, Legislators Make the Right Decisions to Move Maryland Forward
2016 Legislative Wrap-Up

The merit shop construction industry, and business-forward legislators, worked hard to ensure that Maryland’s 2016 General Assembly supported bills that benefit Maryland’s economy and defeated bills that hinder its progress. We’d like to thank all the legislators who stood on the side of Maryland’s economic future. Here’s a review of the legislation that mattered most to the construction community.

Bad Bills That Had to Go

H.B. 721/S.B. 711- Prevailing Wage Rate Reforms of 2016
Why we opposed it: This bill would have altered three very basic elements of the prevailing wage process.  First, it would have eliminated the wage survey and replaced it with the current collectively bargained rates for the various trades.  Second, it would have reduced the threshold for state projects required to use prevailing wage rates from $500,000 to $25,000.  And finally, the bill would have increased the liquidated damages penalties from the current $20 per employee per day, to $1,000 per employee per day.
Final disposition: Defeated.

H.B. 580/S.B. 472-Maryland Healthy Working Families Act
Why we opposed it:
This is the mandated sick and safe leave legislation.  The bill would have required all employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked up to 56 hours.  It would also allow employees to accrue up to 80 hours at any time and use up to 80 hours of earned leave in a year.  The bill also would have exempted construction workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement which was strongly opposed by ABC.
Final disposition: Defeated.

H.B. 1175- Fair Scheduling, Wages and Benefits Act
Why we opposed it:
This bill would have required an employer to provide each employee with a work schedule 21 days in advance.  If an employer were to change the schedule, they would be required to pay the employee one hour of predictability pay or specified wages.  The bill would have also required an employer to offer additional hours of work to current employees before hiring new employees.  If the employer were to violate any of the provisions in the bill, they would be subject to civil penalties and liquidated damages.
Final disposition: Defeated.

H.B. 197/S.B. 623- Maryland Pay Stub Transparency Act of 2016
Why we opposed it:
This bill would have expanded the type of wage records that an employer must keep for at least three years for each pay period including (1) the time interval by which each employee is paid; (2) allowances claimed; (3) deductions taken; (4) regular and overtime pay rates and hours worked; (5) piece rates and number of pieces completed; (6) date of payment and pay period covered by the payment.  It also would have required that an employer provide written notice, either in English or the employee’s primary language, within one week of employment, specified information relating to wage calculations, allowances and the employer.  This bill may have resulted in companies having to adjust or replace their current payroll reporting systems.
Final disposition: Defeated.

H.B. 734- State Procurement-Preference for Resident Bidders
Why we opposed it:
Associated Builders and Contractors has a long-standing position opposing preference policies at any level of government.  This bill would have required state agencies to award a 10% preference to resident bidders when procuring goods and services.  Construction is included in this definition.
Final disposition: Defeated.

H.B. 977- Procurement-Public Works Contracts-Contractor Occupational Safety and Health Requirement
Why we opposed it: The bill would have required the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to develop (1) a safety and health calculation worksheet to evaluate the safety and health performance indicators for contractors and subcontractors that perform work on state projects valued at $100,000 or more and (2) a safety and health rating system to specify additional safety and health measures that the contractor or subcontractor is required to implement based on the score received on the worksheet.  All of these requirements must be done within seven days of entering into a public work contract. This legislation, however, is too broad and administratively heavy to be an effective tool in the bidding process.
Final disposition: Defeated.

S.B. 908/H.B. 1013- Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016
Why we opposed it:
The bill established (1) state transportation goals that must be taken into consideration by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) when it revised the Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) each year and (2) measurements that must be used to evaluate whether and to what extent a major capital project met the State transportation goals.  The goals and measures must be the sole basis used to develop scores for each major project and MDOT must generally prioritize projects with higher scores in the CTP over projects with lower scores.  The bills seems to be a solution in search of a problem and takes away some discretion and flexibility needed by the Administration when making these long term and expensive decisions.  The bills were vetoed by the Governor and overridden by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly.
Final disposition: Passed.

Great Legislation that Moves Maryland Forward

S.B. 273- Income Tax Credit—Apprenticeship and Training
Why we supported it: This was a bill introduced at the request of ABC as an attempt to get more employers engaged in apprenticeship programs and training.  The bill would have provided a $1,000 tax credit for up to four years to an employer placing new employees in a registered program.  Unfortunately, the fiscal note for the legislation was estimated at $800,000 which discouraged the Budget & Taxation Committee from moving the bill forward.
Final disposition:  Defeated.

S.B. 505- Workers’ Compensation Insurance-Premium Discount-Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace Program
Why we supported it: The bill authorizes a workers’ compensation insurer to file a rating plan that provides a premium discount of up to 4% to its insured employers if they have an alcohol-and drug-free workplace policy.
Final disposition: Passed.

H.B. 1404/S.B. 1130- Construction Education and Innovation-Establishment of Fund
Why we supported it: The bill establishes the Construction Education and Innovation Fund to be administered by the Maryland Center for Construction Education and Innovation (MCCEI).  The bill also mandates an annual appropriation to the Fund in the amount of $250,000
Final disposition: Passed.

H.B. 403/S.B. 826- Construction Contracts-Change
Why we supported it: The bill prohibits a State procurement unit from requiring a prime contractor on a State construction contract to begin work on a change order until a written change order is issued that specifies whether the work is to proceed, in compliance with the terms of the contract, on an agreed-to price, force account, construction change directive, or time and materials basis.  The bill expands the law to current entities exempt from most state procurement law including the Maryland Stadium Authority and public four-year universities.  This bill does not apply to state contracts for public school construction or public school capital improvements.  These provisions have effect only if they do not conflict with federal law or regulation.  The bill requires the Secretary of General Services to convene a stakeholder work group to develop recommendations on policy, regulatory and legislation impacted by this bill by December 31, 2016.
Final disposition: Passed.