2022 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY WRAP-UP
REPORT TO MEMBERS
Although social distancing and virtual hearings continued due to COVID-19, the 2022 Maryland General Assembly reconvened and lawmakers introduced 2,495 bills. The Senate conducted in-person hearings, to bring back some normalcy to the legislative process. This session, ABC identified a list of bills that were given a priority status in terms of supporting or opposing. Here is a synopsis of these bills including ABC’s position and the final disposition of the bills.
Construction Site Stop Work Orders
ABC OPPOSED THE BILL AS DRAFTED. THE BILL PASSED WITH AMENDMENTS.
ABC testified in opposition to Senate Bill 1/House Bill 145, introduced by Senator Pam Beidle
(D – Anne Arundel County) and Delegate Brian Crosby (D – St. Mary’s County). The bill as written would have authorized the Commissioner of Labor and Industry in Department of Labor (DLR), after an investigation, to issue a stop-work order to a public works contractor or subcontractor that may have violated the State’s prevailing wage law. The legislation was amended to ensure that the Commissioner must:
- Notify the contractor or subcontractor of the violation;
- Meet with the contractor or subcontractor within 48 hours of issuing the stop work order; and
- Provide the contractor or subcontractor a reasonable timeframe to resolve the violations.
If a stop-work order is issued against a subcontractor, the prime contractor may terminate the subcontract, but only after waiting 48 hours after the meeting between the Commissioner and the subcontractor or if the violation has been resolved. The prime contractor may not incur any civil liability for damages to: (1) the subcontractor whose contract is terminated; (2) other subcontractors affected by the termination; or (3) any public body.
Furthermore, language was struck which would have created a new appeal process to the Board of Contract Appeals (BCA), an entity that has never had an adjudicatory role in prevailing wage violations. The amendment to remove the BCA preserves the current adjudicatory process, which resolves prevailing wage disputes in an efficient fashion, rarely requiring a hearing. The Commissioner must issue an order releasing the stop-work order if the contractor or subcontractor demonstrates: (1) that employees are being paid the appropriate prevailing wage required by state law and (2) that the contractor or subcontractor has paid all penalties assessed by the State. The order releasing the stop-work order may include a requirement that the contractor or subcontractor submit periodic reports to the Commissioner demonstrating compliance. If an investigation by the Commissioner reveals a violation.
Recreational Cannabis Use – Legalization
THE BILL PASSED AND WILL BE ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT AS A REFERENDUM
After significant debate in both the Senate and House, House Bill 1, sponsored by Chair Luke Clippinger (D – Baltimore City), passed to present a constitutional amendment referendum to voters in the 2022 Gubernatorial election on the legalization of the adult-use of cannabis. Assuming voter approval of the referendum, the Maryland General Assembly will work during the 2023 Legislative Session to establish a more comprehensive regulatory and taxing framework for the adult-use program.
Additionally, Chair Clippinger introduced and passed companion legislation, House Bill 837, which set forth provisions relating to “Cannabis Reform.” The vast majority of HB 837 is subject to the ratification of the constitutional amendment in House Bill 1. As passed, the bill does the following:
- Designates the Alcohol Tobacco Commission (ATC) as the regulator of both medical and recreational cannabis. The ATC will succeed the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) for oversight of the current medical cannabis program.
- Requires a study to collect baseline data on Maryland cannabis use and its effects, as well as a study on: (i) a home grow program to authorize qualifying patients to grow cannabis for personal use; (ii) the establishment of on–site cannabis consumption facilities; and (iii) methods to reduce the use of cannabis by minors.
- Creates a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund to assist small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses entering the adult-use cannabis industry.
- Allows a person who is 21 or older to possess and cultivate a “personal-use” amount of cannabis, defined as up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, cannabis products containing up to 750 mg of delta-9 THC or, as of July 1, 2023, up to two cannabis plants. The bill also allows Marylanders to engage in “adult sharing” of cannabis.
- Requires a disparity study.
- Allows for the expungement of all prior convictions for cases in which cannabis possession is the only charge in the case and the charge was issued before July 1, 2023.
- Creates a Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council to advise the state on the proposed adult use program and a Cannabis Public Health Fund.
- Establishes a Community Investment and Repair Fund to provide economic assistance to organizations that serve communities which have been the most adversely affected by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws prior to July 22, 2022.
- Includes a state-level 280e fix, allowing a subtraction modification against the State individual and corporate income tax for ordinary and necessary business expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year for MMCC licensees and future adult use licensees. This applies to all taxable years beginning after December 31, 2021.
Legislation that would have completely legalized adult-use of cannabis, Senate Bill 692, sponsored by Senator Jill Carter (D – Baltimore City) and Senate Bill 833, sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman (D - Montgomery County) failed to pass. Both SB 692 and SB 833 proposed a regulatory and taxing structure, as well as specific criminal justice reforms. ABC will continue to work with lawmakers in order to ensure that employees on a project site are considered “safety sensitive positions” and to effectively test those employees in order to maintain a safe work environment.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
ABC OPPOSED. THE BILL PASSED BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE.
After years of study and discussion, the Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Senator Antonio Hayes (D – Baltimore City) and championed in Economic Matters Committee Chair CT Wilson (D – Charles County) and Delegate Kris Valderrama (D – Prince George’s County), which establishes a paid family and medical leave insurance program in the State. After significant debate between the Senate and the House about the specific parameters of the program and the timing of implementation, the final legislation passed with the following provisions:
- Applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
- Contributions to the insurance fund begin October 1, 2023.
- Department of Labor, in consultation with other agencies and stakeholders, shall make determinations on the total rate of contributions and the percentages contributed by employers and employees.
- Employee may access leave benefits under the program beginning January 1, 2025.
- Leave may be taken for the following:
- Care of a newborn child or a child placed for adoption, foster care, or kinship care within the first year of birth, adoption or placement;
- Care of a qualifying family member with a serious health condition, as defined in the bill;
- Serious health condition for the covered employee; or
- Care of a service member or a qualifying exigency arising from deployment of service members.
- Foreseeable leave requires 30-day notice to the employer.
- Generally, provides 12-weeks total benefits. An addition 12-weeks may be taken in the event a covered employee experiences their own serious health condition in the same year that have a child.
- All other leave must be exhausted before program benefits are accessed.
- Leave shall be taken concurrently with any corresponding federal leave benefits, including the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- During the benefit period, an employee may only be terminated for cause.
- Employer can only deny restoration of an employee’s position to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the employer.
- Preempts local jurisdictions from implementing their own paid family and medical leave insurance programs; and
- Requires regular actuarial studies to determine solvency of underlying fund.
Based on concerns from employers about the potential economic impact of the program, particularly considering the recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill passed substantially along party lines and was subsequently vetoed by the Governor. The General Assembly overrode that veto in the final days of the Session and the implementation of the bill begins on its effective date of June 1, 2022.
HB 1285/SB 604 - Maryland Electricians Act – Revisions
ABC SUPPORTED. THE BILL PASSED BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE.
Senator Cory McCray (D - Baltimore City) and Delegate Kevin Hornberger (R - Cecil County) sponsored clean-up legislation, Senate Bill 604/House Bill 1285, to clarify and complete their revisions to the Maryland Electricians Act from the 2021 Legislative Session. Under the bill, the State Board of Electricians must credit successful completion of an apprenticeship program approved by the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council or the federal Office of Apprenticeship that consists of at least 576 classroom hours and 8,000 hours of work experience toward the experience required for licensure as a master electrician or journeyperson electrician. The bill also requires the Board to waive the experience and examination requirement if the applicant provides written proof of four years (currently three years) of work experience providing electrical services under the control and direction of a master electrician and submits the application by the required deadline or otherwise provides proof of completion of the above apprenticeship programs. Finally, the bill also alters general liability and property insurance requirements for licensees employed by another licensee who maintains the required coverage. The bill takes effect July 1, 2022.
Definition of Employer
ABC OPPOSED. THE BILL DIED IN COMMITTEE.
Attorney General Brian Frosh (D – Montgomery County) requested Senate Bill 224/House Bill 299 to add a standardized definition of “employer” to State laws that pertain to employment standards and conditions. Under current law, the definition of “employ” regarding laws related to the employment standards and conditions in the State means “to engage an individual to work” and includes “allowing an individual to work” and “instructing an individual to be present at a work site.” The bill would have altered the general definition of “employer” to capture “a person engaged in a business, industry, profession, trade, or other enterprises in the State that employs an individual in the State.” In addition, the definition would have included a person who “acts directly or indirectly in the interest of another employer with an employee,” therefore including a “joint employer” relationship. ABC effectively lobbied against the measure and the House Economic Matters committee gave the bill an unfavorable report.
HB 614 - Medical Cannabis Coverage
ABC OPPOSED. HB 614 WAS WITHDRAWN; HB 628 DIED IN COMMITTEE.
Once again, legislation was introduced to mandate coverage for medical cannabis under Maryland’s workers’ compensation program. Delegate Kris Valderrama (D – Prince George’s County) and Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D – Frederick County) introduced House Bill 614 and House Bill 628, respectively. Both bills would have expressly authorized workers’ compensation coverage through an employer or an insurer for medical cannabis obtained in accordance with State law for the treatment of work-related injuries. In the face of opposition in the House Economic Matters Committee and the Committee’s Workers’ Compensation Subcommittee, Delegate Valderrama ultimately withdrew HB 614. HB 628, which also included provisions prohibiting an employer from discriminating against an individual who is legally authorized to use medical cannabis or tests positive for specified cannabis components or metabolites while legally authorized, was voted unfavorably by the House Economic Matters Committee. It is expected that similar legislation will return in the 2023 Legislative Session, especially considering the ongoing efforts to legalize recreational cannabis in the State.
Omnibus Procurement Reform Act ("OPRA") of 2022
ABC SUPPORTED. THE BILL FAILED TO PASS OUT OF COMMITTEE.
Economic Matters Committee Chair C.T. Wilson (D – Charles County) introduced House Bill 1353. This bill was intended to make the purposes and policies of State procurement law apply to county procurements that include any State funds and give the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals (MSBCA) jurisdiction to hear and decide appeals related to those local procurements. The bill also would have made changes to State procurement policies and procedures related to the cancellation of solicitations, the timelines for MSBCA rulings, disclosure of information regarding awarded contracts, and costs of contract claims and bid protests that may be awarded to successful appellants. The Fiscal Note warned that the bill could have created confusion for county procurements, creating two parallel procurement systems, one for contracts with State funds and one for contracts without State funds. Ultimately, the bill did not progress after a hearing in the House Health and Government Operations Committee.
HB 79/SB 161 - Prohibited Indemnity and Defense Liability Agreements
ABC OPPOSED. THE BILL FAILED TO PASS OUT OF COMMITTEE
Senator Chris West (R – Baltimore) and Delegate Jon S. Cardin (D – Baltimore County) introduced legislation, House Bill 79 and Senate Bill 161. The bill intended to prohibit a provision in a contract with a design professional for professional services that requires the design professional to indemnify or hold harmless certain parties unless the design professional is at fault for causing the loss, damage, or expense indemnified; and prohibiting a provision in a contract with a design professional for professional services that requires the design professional to defend certain parties against liability or certain claims. The measure passed out of the Senate, but never received a vote out of the House and the bill died.
HB 361/SB 320 - Mold Inspections and Remediation
ABC OPPOSED. THE BILL FAILED TO PASS OUT OF COMMITTEE.
Senator Obie Patterson (D – Prince George’s County) and Delegate Shaneka Henson (D – Anne Arundel County) introduced Senate Bill 320/House Bill 361 requiring the MDE, in consultation with MDH, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of General Services, to adopt regulations that establish uniform standards for mold assessment and remediation by June 1, 2024.
Currently, no statewide requirements exist to conduct mold assessments or remediation of rental dwelling units. The bill, therefore, would have required a local jurisdiction to conduct visual inspections to identify potential mold in rental dwelling units within the jurisdiction as often as necessary to comply with the minimum livability code. Should a landlord fail to comply with the regulations adopted under the bill or the bill’s disclosure requirements, the tenant would have been able to deposit rent in an escrow account with the clerk of the District Court. Prior to depositing rent in escrow, the bill would have required notice of mold or a mold hazard to the landlord. The bill would have assessed a civil penalty of up to $250 per violation, not exceeding $10,000 for non-compliance by a landlord. In addition, the bill would have established a nonrefundable credit against the State income tax that may be claimed by the owner of a residential rental property who performs or pays for the performance of mold remediation on the rental property. The tax credit is equal to 100% of the qualified mold remediation expenses incurred by the property owner during the taxable year, not to exceed $10,000. This was Senator Patterson’s third attempt at passing this bill. The Senate Bill did not progress after its initial hearing and the House cross-file was ultimately withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB 541/SB 478 - Career and Technical Education Committee – Alterations
ABC SUPPORTED. THE BILL PASSED BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE.
Delegate Lily Qi (D – Montgomery County) and Senator Katie Fry Hester (D - Howard) introduced House Bill 541/Senate Bill 478. This measure will add a representative of a skilled trade organization and a representative of a career college to the list of members who must be selected for the Career and Technical Education Committee; altering the CTE Committee's duties and authorized actions to include the perspective of career colleges and skilled trade organizations; and requiring the CTE Committee to develop and provide to guidance counselors and public schools in the State a list of all skilled trade organization programs and career programs in the State.
HB 552 – Retention Proceeds
ABC SUPPORTED. THE BILL FAILED TO PASS OUT OF COMMITTEE.
ABC testified in support of the Retention Proceeds bill that was sponsored by Delegate Chris Adams (R - Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico). The bill would require undisputed retention proceeds retained by a unit or a certain contractor under a state procurement contract be paid within 90 days after the date of substantial completion. The bill failed to receive a favorable vote out of the Health and Government Operations Committee.
HB 1203 - Right to Work
ABC SUPPORTED. THE BILL FAILED TO PASS OUT OF COMMITTEE.
ABC testified in support of the Right to Work Bill that was sponsored by Delegate Brian Chisholm (R - Anne Arundel). The bill would prohibit a private-sector employer from requiring, as a condition of employment or continued employment, an employee, or a prospective employee, under certain circumstances, to join or remain a member of a labor organization, pay charges to a labor organization, or pay a certain amount to a third party; establishing certain penalties for a violation of the Act; and requiring the Attorney General to take steps necessary to ensure effective enforcement of the Act. The bill failed to receive a favorable vote out of the House Economic Matters Committee.