State offices and all DLLR physical locations will be closed to the public December 24 & December 25, 2014. However, Unemployment Insurance telephone and Web operations WILL be available on Wednesday, December 24.

DLLR News

 

2014 End of Session Report

 

Download the report (Word document, 125KB, download Word viewer for free)

April 2014

The 432nd Session of the General Assembly of Maryland convened at noon on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 and adjourned sine die (the last day of the legislature) at midnight on Monday, April 7, 2014.

More than 2600 bills along with the State's annual capital and operating budgets were considered during the ninety day session. The following report highlights key measures tracked by the department including the agency's budget, departmental legislation, priority bills of the Administration and other measures that involve areas of law under the agency's jurisdiction.

The Office of Government Affairs is pleased to provide this end of session report and would like to thank our agency staff for their hard work during the session. By testifying at bill hearings, providing their professional analysis and sharing their subject matter expertise on issues before the General Assembly, the department was able to fulfill its duties on behalf of the citizens of Maryland.

The 90 Day Report published by the Department of Legislative Services was used in providing much of the summary information on the bills included in this report.

Additional information can be found on the Maryland General Assembly website.

The 2014 legislative session report is organized in the following sections:

    1. AGENCY BUDGET
    2. DEPARTMENTAL LEGISLATION
    3. SUNSET BILLS
    4. ADMINISTRATION PRIORITIES RELATED TO DLLR
    5. OTHER LEGISLATION OF INTEREST

I. AGENCY BUDGET

Fiscal Year 2015 summary

  • The Fiscal Year 2015 allowance -the Governor's initial budget recommendation-for DLLR totals $375.7 million, an increase of $11.9 million, or 3.3% over Fiscal Year 2014.
     
  • House Bill 170, the Operating Budget, passed and included the EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) general funding at $4,500,000.

Included in the Operating Budget bill was the Supplemental Budget which was released on April 1, 2014. The Supplemental Budget included:

  • $146,000 general funds for the Regional Skills Training Center for Excellence in Baltimore City
  • $312,122 for minimum wage rate increase enforcement
  • $28,168 in general funds for electronic payroll record software for the Living Wage Unit
  • $630,693 in special funds for the Maryland Facility Redevelopment Program of the Maryland Racing Commission for capital construction and improvement at racetrack facilities

Supplemental Budget #1 also included Fiscal Year 2014 adjustments:

  • $470,998 in Special Administrative Expense Funds (SAEF) to cover indirect salaries previously allocated against federal funds (DLLR provided Special Administrative Expense Funds (SAEF) revenue reversions to the general fund in Fiscal Year 2014 of $2,955,571, of which $1,328,000 is in response to Fiscal Year 2015 cost containment)
  • $56,336 in general funds to provide for electronic payroll record software for the Living Wage Unit;
  • $696,613 in SAEF to provide funds to Workforce Development for job services operating expenses.

The Operating Budget bill included statewide reductions for:

  • State Personnel System allocation and the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System in Fiscal Year 2014
  • Health insurance and Supplemental retirement contributions in both Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015

The current adopted appropriation for DLLR, not including the statewide reductions, is $376.7 million.

The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2014 (Senate Bill 172) included several modifications (detailed below) that are relevant to DLLR.

Adult Education: The State provides funding for adult education services, including classes on basic skills in reading, writing, and math, or learning to speak and understand the English language. Grants also assist adults to prepare to earn a high school diploma through the general education development tests or the National External Diploma Program. The State budget includes $8.4 million for adult education programs in fiscal 2015.

Horse Racing Impact Aid: Horse racing impact aid consists of grants to counties and municipalities that contain or are located close to thoroughbred tracks. Grant funding is derived in part from the collection of the tax on horse race wagering. The amounts granted to each jurisdiction are mandated by statute and are largely based on the number of racing days held each year. In the past few years, revenues have been insufficient to fulfill the expected allocation to each jurisdiction and to the other mandated uses. The BRFA of 2013 requires the Comptroller, in any fiscal year that revenues to the horse racing special fund are not sufficient to fully fund local impact aid, to proportionately reduce the amount of grants required to be paid. Fiscal 2015 funding totals $73,000.

Video Lottery Terminal Local Impact Grants: From the proceeds generated by video lottery terminals (VLT) at video lottery facilities in the State, 5.5% is distributed to local governments in which a video lottery facility is operating. Of this amount, 18% would go for 20 years (starting in fiscal 2012 and ending in fiscal 2032) to Baltimore City through the Pimlico Community Development Authority and to Prince George's County for the community surrounding Rosecroft ($1 million annually), except that the 18% dedication does not apply to facilities located in Allegany, Cecil, and Worcester counties upon issuance of the Baltimore City license. Furthermore, under the BRFA of 2014, Senate Bill 172, for fiscal 2015 through 2019, $500,000 of the 18% dedication is distributed to communities within three miles of Laurel Race Course, resulting in $89,300 for Howard County and an additional $357,100 for Anne Arundel County and $53,600 for Laurel in each of these five fiscal years. Upon issuance of a Prince George's County license, 5% of table game revenues will be distributed to local jurisdictions where a video lottery facility is located. VLT local impact grants total $39.1 million in fiscal 2015, an increase of $7.5 million, or 23.9%.

II. DEPARTMENTAL LEGISLATION

House Bill 6 - Maryland Home Improvement Commission - Guaranty Fund - Claims (Ch. 211) This departmental bill increases the maximum claim amount against the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund - from $5,000 to $7,500 - for which the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) may issue a proposed order without a hearing. The bill also increases the length of time - from 30 days to 60 days - that a contractor has to reimburse the fund for claims paid by the fund on the contractor's behalf. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

House Bill 13 - Office of Cemetery Oversight - Perpetual Care Trust Funds & Preneed Trust Accounts - Regulation (Ch.81) This departmental bill clarifies that realized capital gains are not income of a perpetual care trust fund and must instead be deposited into the trust fund as principal. A trustee of a perpetual care trust fund may not make a loan or direct or indirect investment of any kind in buildings or structures appurtenant to any real property of a cemetery. Prohibitions on the use of funds from preneed trust accounts are established and mirror those already in place for perpetual care trust funds. Specified distributions of funds from preneed trust accounts are required to include a prorated proportional share of capital gains attributable to those funds. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

House Bill 467 - Labor and Employment - Employment of Minors (Ch. 100) This bill repeals the authorization under which the Commissioner of Labor and Industry or a county superintendent of schools may issue a work permit to a minor. The bill instead enables a parent or guardian of a minor to apply online to the commission for a minor's work permit. The effective date is October 1, 2014.

Senate Bill 54 - Labor and Employment - Maryland Apprenticeship Training Council (Ch. 120) This departmental bill specifies that the duties of the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council (MATC) must be consistent with the approval of the Division of Labor and Industry (DLI) within DLLR. Apprenticeship or on-the-job training programs and reciprocity agreements with other state or U.S. apprenticeship and training councils must be jointly approved by MATC and DLI. If MATC and DLI disagree on any of MATC's duties and responsibilities, the Secretary of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation must issue a final decision after hearing from both parties. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

Senate Bill 130 - Workers Compensation Commission - Reports of Accidental Injury or Disability - Electronic Sharing (Ch. 38) This departmental bill repeals the requirement that an employer send to the Commissioner of Labor and Industry a copy of each report of a workplace accident or injury that the employer is also required to send to the Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC) or submits to the Injured Workers' Insurance Fund (IWIF). The bill also repeals the requirement that WCC report to the Commissioner of Labor and Industry whenever WCC believes that there has been an excessive or a high rate of industrial injuries associated with an employer or industry. Instead, WCC must provide the Commissioner of Labor and Industry with electronic access to the data contained in the accidental personal injury or occupational disease reports filed with WCC. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

House Bill 1417 - Unemployment Insurance - Work Sharing (Ch. 251) This departmental bill makes numerous changes to the existing work-sharing unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) by (1) altering eligibility for the program; (2) requiring employers to meet specified criteria; and (3) implementing changes required under recently enacted federal law. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

III. SUNSET BILLS

Program Evaluation (Sunset Review)
The Maryland Program Evaluation Act, enacted in 1978, is used by the General Assembly as a mechanism to monitor and evaluate approximately 70 regulatory boards, commissions, and other agencies of the Executive Branch of State government. This law requires the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) periodically to undertake the evaluations according to a statutorily based schedule. These evaluations are more commonly known as "sunset review" because the agencies subject to review are usually also subject to termination ("sunset") unless legislation is enacted to reauthorize them. The methodology for conducting the evaluations by DLS involves an extensive evaluation process by DLS staff. The goals of the process have evolved to reflect the General Assembly's interest in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the various regulatory entities that are subject to program evaluation and addressing through legislation appropriate issues relating to the structure, performance, and practices of the agencies.

This session, legislation extended the evaluation and termination dates of the following regulatory agencies. Some of these bills also contain substantive changes in an agency's powers and duties, which are discussed in the appropriate subject area parts of this 90 Day Report.

Senate Bill 292 State Board of Stationary Engineers - Sunset Extension and Program Evaluation
(Ch. 51)
Extends the termination date for the State Board of Stationary Engineers by 10 years to July 1, 2024, and requires a preliminary evaluation of the board by December 15, 2021. This bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

Senate Bill 297 State Board of Individual Tax Preparers - Sunset Extension and Program Evaluation (Ch. 53) Extends the termination date for the State Board of Individual Tax Preparers by 10 years to July 1, 2026, and requires a preliminary evaluation of the board by December 15, 2023. The board must submit a report to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and the House Economic Matters Committee by October 1, 2015, that (1) provides an update on the board's expenditures and special fund balance and (2) includes any recommendations for legislative changes necessary to provide any additional authority the board needs to address complaints alleging the unregistered provision of individual tax preparation services. This bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

Senate Bill 293/House Bill 257 Elevator Safety Review Board and Division of Labor and Industry - Sunset Extension and Program Evaluation Extend the termination date for the Elevator Safety Review Board by five years to July 1, 2019, and require a preliminary evaluation of the board by December 15, 2016. The bills also remove a sunset provision related primarily to mediation and arbitration of labor disputes by the Division of Labor and Industry within DLLR. This bill takes effect June 30, 2014.

House Bill 511 State Board of Foresters - Sunset Extension and Program Evaluation Extends the termination date for the State Board of Foresters by 10 years to July 1, 2025, and requires a preliminary evaluation of the board by December 15, 2022. This bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

Senate Bill 527/House Bill 988 Extend the termination date for the Maryland Horse Racing Act by 10 years to July 1, 2024 and require a preliminary evaluation of the Maryland Racing Commission, the Maryland-Bred Race Fund Advisory Committee, and the Standardbred Race Fund Advisory Committee under the Maryland Program Evaluation Act to be conducted by December 15, 2021. This bill shall take effect July 1, 2014.

IV. ADMINISTRATION PRIORITIES RELATED TO DLLR

House Bill 295 - Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014

This Administration bill requires employers in the State, as of January 1, 2015, to pay the greater of the federal minimum wage or a State minimum wage of $8.20 per hour to employees subject to federal or State minimum wage requirements. The bill provides for subsequent annual increases in the State's minimum wage through January 1, 2017, and allows an exception for employers of amusement or recreational establishments under specified conditions.

The bill also expands the application of the Maryland Wage and Hour Law to an additional industry and class of workers, changes overtime laws for various industries, alters the tip credit that employers can apply against the direct wages paid to tipped employees, and provides for liquidated damages to be awarded under specified circumstances to employees who are paid less than the minimum wage. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

EARN Maryland

EARN Maryland is the O'Malley-Brown Administration's workforce and economic development initiative focused on helping more Marylanders obtain the demand-driven skills needed to compete in the 21st Century economy. The initiative, now in its second year, is earning national recognition for its early success. EARN is helping to prepare Maryland's workforce through industry-designed training aimed at closing the skills gap. Key industry sectors include cyber technology, construction, hospitality and manufacturing.

By funding workforce training collaborations between businesses, educators, workforce entities, local governments, and non-profits, EARN is helping Maryland's working families master the skills necessary for employment advancement in sustainable jobs. Mentioned above under the budget section, House Bill 170, the Operating Budget, passed this session, includes $4,500,000 for EARN Maryland.

V. OTHER LEGISLATION OF INTEREST

  • House Bill 189 / Senate Bill 711 Occupational Safety and Health Act-Chemical Information List amends Title 5 of the Labor and Employment Article to provide that employers do not need to submit their chemical information lists to the Maryland Department of the Environment. Under both State and Federal law, employers are required to maintain a list of all hazardous chemicals used in the workplace. Creating a copy of the list places an additional and unnecessary obligation on employers. In addition, the bill provided that if an employer ceases to operate, it shall submit a copy of its chemical information list to DLLR. This bill takes effect October 1, 2014.
     
  • House Bill 704 / Senate Bill 160 Commercial Law - Debt Settlement Services - Sunset and Reporting Extension extends the deadline for a debt settlement study and recommendations for the Division of Financial Regulation. Under the law enacted during the 2011 legislative session, the Division collects annual data regarding the debt settlement activities by registered debt settlement providers. Prior to the passage of House Bill 704 / Senate Bill 160, the law anticipated three years of data collection. As the Division began to collect and analyze data for the initial periods, it became clear that the contracts being evaluated are 3 to 4 years in duration. As a result, the current end date resulted in the Division analyzing data that is of limited value because most debt settlement accounts initiated during the covered three year period (calendar years 2011-2013) were still in process. After consulting with industry trade representatives and consumer advocates, the Division recommended extending the deadline by one year. House Bill 704 / Senate Bill 160 enables the Debt Settlement Act to more realistically satisfy its purpose -- to measure the overall effectiveness and costs associated with debt settlement services, and determine what, if any changes should be considered. The effective date is October 1, 2014.
     
  • House Bill 923 / Senate Bill 596 - Income Tax Subtraction Modification - Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief - Extension ensures that homeowners that have had debt forgiven during the foreclosure process are not penalized by having that debt considered income on their Maryland tax return. This legislation recognizes the imprudence of compounding the effects of the housing crisis by saddling homeowners with tax obligations in addition to their mortgage debt. The effective date is July 1, 2014.
     
  • Senate Bill 1106, Real Estate Appraisers - Criminal History Records Check (Ch. 79) provides all candidates for an original real estate appraiser license or certificate must undergo a criminal background screening. The bill's provisions are required by federal law. The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) specifies that all licensees must undergo a criminal history records check after January 1, 2015.
     
  • House Bill 727 / Senate Bill 232 Procurement - Prevailing Wage - Applicability - This bill lowers the share of total school construction project costs that must be paid by the State for the prevailing wage to apply from 50% to 25%, thereby expanding its application. The bill takes effect July 1, 2014, and applies only to a procurement contract executed on or after that date.
     
  • House Bill 702 - Professional Land Surveyors - Licensure Qualifications - Revisions - alters the requirements for licensure by phasing in new education and experience requirements over time. The bill phases out one academic pathway after December 31, 2023, and one non-academic pathway after December 31, 2025. Both remaining pathways will require at least 32 credit hours of land surveying-related courses approved by the board. This bill takes effect October 1, 2014.
     
  • Senate Bill 212 - Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 prohibits discrimination based on "gender identity" in public accommodations, labor and employment, and housing by persons licensed or regulated by a unit of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. The measure further prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in State personnel actions and in the leasing of property for commercial use. The bill defines "gender identity" as the gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth, which may be demonstrated by (1) consistent and uniform assertion of the person's gender identity or (2) any other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person's core identity. The bill provides exemptions from provisions of the bill relating to housing discrimination for the rental of rooms or apartments in an owner's principal residence in a building with no more than five rental units. Additionally, religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, and societies are exempted from the employment discrimination provisions of the bill with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular gender identity to perform work connected with the activities of the religious entity. The bill also specifies that it is not unlawful for an employer to establish and require an employee to adhere to certain reasonable workplace appearance, grooming, and dress standards as long as the employee is allowed to appear, groom, and dress consistent with the employee's gender identity. This bill takes effect October 1, 2014.
     
  • House Bill 168 - Removal of Members from Boards, Commissions, or Councils under DLLR establishes that a member of a board, commission, or council under DLLR is considered to have resigned if the member does not attend at least two-thirds of the meetings of the board, commission, or council during any consecutive 12-month period while the member was serving on the board, commission, or council. The Governor may waive a member's resignation and allow the member to continue serving if the reasons provided by the member for non-attendance are satisfactory to the Governor and the reasons are made public. The chair of a board, commission, or council is required to provide notice to the Governor of a member's resignation, and the Governor is required to appoint the member's successor. This bill takes effect October 1, 2014.
     
  • House Bill 951 - Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation - Workgroup on Public Works Contractor Occupational Safety and Health Prequalification Requirements - requires DLLR to convene a workgroup to (1) analyze the potential effects of specified public works contractor occupational safety and health prequalification requirements; (2) study the effectiveness of similar requirements in other jurisdictions; (3) study the requirements and practices currently used by State agencies to ensure contractor adherence to safety standards; and (4) make recommendations regarding the establishment of such requirements in the State. The workgroup must report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by December 31, 2014. This bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

For more information about DLLR's legislative agenda, please contact the Jay Hutchins, Senior Advisor and Director of Government Affairs.