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Legislative News

    Greta Engle-Kessler

    2022 MD SHRM Council Director of Legislation

    2022 Legislative UPDATE

    The Maryland SHRM State Council Legislative Advocacy team held a virtual Advocacy Day to kick off the session which began on January 12th.

    At this time, we have taken active positions on a few bills, held meetings with our legislators, and are tracking changes as they occur throughout this session.

    Maryland Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) has returned the year in the same bill format as was proposed last session. This is referred to as HB8/SB275.

    Aside from the mandate of 12 weeks (and up to 24) of paid leave, the legislature has not demonstrated how Maryland will ensure the solvency and administrative costs

    for the proposed bills. The Senate version remains the same as the House. There is also a new bill proposal, HB496, creating a new state entity and

    the special fund needed to pay out leave benefits.

    Our 2022 bill tracker contains hyperlinks to bills, bill sponsors, and the committees who will conduct hearings. You can also communicate directly with

    your legislators and look them up on the Maryland General Assembly website.

    We will keep our members apprised throughout the session, and will provide a summary at the close in early April.

    Current Employer Challenges

    In this ongoing pandemic Maryland’s economy has been hit hard by COVID-19. Many of our members report that they’re still operating at a fraction pre-pandemic revenue. This has resulted in unprecedented employment decisions, and permanent layoffs. With vaccine testing shortages and new strains of this virus, there seems to be no end to our prolonged challenges. We have also been impacted by Federal Executive Orders relating to vaccines and have had to pivot numerous times with ongoing court challenges to these mandates. We are the job creators and we’re struggling just to survive. Maryland’s Comptroller’s Office estimated that approximately 30,000 Maryland businesses have closed or will close permanently as a direct result of the pandemic. 

    On January 19th, 2022, MDSHRM hosted a Virtual Advocacy Day. Here is a copy of the slide deck. 

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Greta Engle, MDSHRM Governmental Affairs,

    HB8/SB0275* Labor and Employment-Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act 2022) SPONSOR: Delegate Valderrama (Economic Matters) *Senate Sponsors: Hayes & Benson (Finance Committee)

    Issues - HB8 SB0275

    The following are some of MD SHRM’s concerns with the bills as drafted: • May create a new and additional paid leave benefit, rather than providing pay for existing unpaid leave • Prohibit employers from requiring use of paid leave before using leave without pay (LWOP) • Creates an administrative burden requiring employers to provide notice at least three times • Imposes monetary penalties before we have implementing regulations (there are still none for Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act) • Prohibits an employer from modifying any existing policy to offset the cost • Does not provide a process that includes employers in the granting or denial of benefits (like Unemployment Insurance does to prevent fraud or abuse) • As a state, Maryland is still recovering from a cyber breach, issues with UI covid payments and exhausting financial resources and personnel to address these issues o The fiscal note on this proposal would cost Maryland an unbudgeted $20 million to administer such a program and that number is expected to grow We welcome the opportunity to be a resource to you in how this proposed legislation with impact Maryland’s workplaces.

    HB1 Constitutional Amendment – Cannabis – Adult Use and Possession SPONSOR: Delegate Clippinger (Judiciary) 

    Issues – HB1

    The following are some of MD SHRM’s concerns with this proposed legislation: Expanding medical use of cannabis to recreational use presents safety challenges within the workplace. It is difficult to definitively quantify the effect marijuana use has on productivity and safety. However, a National Institute on Drug Abuse study found that employees who tested positive for cannabis had 85% more injuries, 55% more industrial accidents, and 75% higher absenteeism rates. Until recently, challenges to employee terminations for testing positive for cannabis were almost always dismissed and justified under employers’ drug-free workplace policies. In some cases, the termination was challenged under state laws that provide protection for personal conduct away from the workplace. The courts consistently ruled that since cannabis was unlawful under federal law, the enforcement of a drug-free workplace policy banning cannabis presence was permissible despite state law. However, that is no longer the case in an increasing number of states. The amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana determines its strength, and it can have vastly different effects on users depending on their body weight, method of consumption (smoking versus edibles) and patterns of use— occasional users compared to daily users, for instance. 3 Adding to this challenge is testing for the level of impairment vs. simply testing for THC. There is no scientific test for impairment. Current tests only show whether someone has used marijuana, not their level of impairment as with alcohol, as an example. Absent a federal policy on recreational adult use of cannabis, or available tests for drug impairment, Maryland SHRM cannot support expansion beyond the current allowance of medical usage.