Legislative Update (from the MD State Chamber)
Gov. Larry Hogan will deliver his State of the State Address just over a week from now. It will likely feature elements of his $17.7 billion FY19 budget. We need to see the details of each initiative, but here are a few points that look promising for our efforts to strengthen the state:
- $6.5 billion for public schools, fully funding state aid programs
- $855,000 for operations at eight P-TECH schools, which feature several Maryland Chamber partners
- Increased funding from $3.5 million to $9 million for the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program
- $8 million to EARN Program
- $10 million for two new tax credits established under 2017’s More Jobs for Marylanders Act
- $10 million from the Sunny Day Fund to keep businesses in Maryland
- final $5 million payment to Northrop Grumman Corporation
- first $5 million payment to Marriott International, Inc.
- $12 million for the Biotechnology Investment Incentive Tax Credit
- $2 million for the Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Tax Credit
- $2.9 billion in capital spending to improve transportation infrastructure
- $178.1 million in Highway User Revenue funds
Last week, the State Chamber testified to the Judicial Proceedings Committee against two proposed changes to civil action-related laws: Senate Bills 5 and 36.
SB 5 would weaken the current standard of “actual malice” to award punitive damages, replacing it with the less-stringent “clear and convincing evidence.” This would expose businesses to more litigation demanding punitive damages, as well as higher liability insurance premiums.We testified against SB 36 because it increases the cap on noneconomic damages in specified wrongful death or survival actions, including health care malpractice actions.To further our education and workforce development efforts, we also testified in support of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Senate Bill 43. This bill deals with requirements for a high school GED.Generally, only those who have already dropped out of high school can earn a GED. This bill would allow English-language learning students with a history of interrupted education and comparably lower language proficiency to earn a GED without dropping out first. Participation in a state-administered GED prep program would be required. Ultimately, the bill could help these students stay in high school longer and gain stronger English language skills before the GED exam. That leads to greater success in the workforce.