News from Annapolis
2016 Session:  Week 12                             Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
March 27 to April 2
Highlights of Week 12
  • Governor VETO's Transportation Bill
        • The Story of a Bad Bill
        • Events:  
          • Primary Election April 26
          • Howard County School Board Forum April 11
        • Scholarship Application - Deadline: April 10th

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The Women's Caucus enjoys breakfast with the Governor
Transportation Bill Vetoed .

The "Maryland  Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016"
        Of all the bills considered this year, THIS particular bill is least deserving of being called "OPEN" or transparent.  The bill appeared, suddenly, with no warning or preparation.        
  • There were no discernible problems with the existing system, no constituent complaints
  •  There was no Task Force report suggesting changes to the system
  •  There were no hearings held around the state for input from the citizens. 
  •  There was no consultation with the Department of Transportation.  There was just: HERE IT IS!

        The Senate held its Public Hearing on the bill on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 29th -- A DAY AFTER they VOTED THE BILL FAVORABLY OUT OF COMMITTEE!   (I wonder how the people testifying felt about doing so after the decision was already made!?)

        The process of selecting transportation projects has been in place since 1971, and has worked well.   Every jurisdiction is given an opportunity to present its priority projects to the State Highway Administration, in person, at the well-known "Road Shows" where everyone has input.   The needs of rural, urban and suburban areas are considered by a team of competent transportation experts who consider safety as their top priority.  

        The process established under the bill as introduced would have mandated the approval of transportation projects 96% of which were in Montgomery County.

        The Republicans argued strenuously about the large and small problems with the bill, and offered a total of 17 amendments.  Minority party amendments included things such as:
  • Increasing the value placed on safety in the point system; 
  • Grandfathering projects that are currently in the "Consolidated Transportation Plan;" 
  • Establishing a Task Force before making drastic changes to a system that has never been problematic; 
  • Limiting one jurisdiction from receiving more than 15% of the transportation funds in any given year.  
       Not ONE of the minority party amendments came close to being adopted.

       The bill passed the House and the Senate -- without one Republican vote.
The Governor's Veto Message
To read the full text of the Governor's veto letter in, click here
Why Bad Bills ?
The Story of HB 580
        Once upon a time, the majority party created a bill called "The Healthy Working Families Act."  It's always difficult to know what a bill actually does, j udging just by its title.  Indeed, the title of a bill is often in direct contradiction to the actual effect of a bill (witness the "Open" transportation bill discussed above).
        What this bill wants to do is ensure that  everyone  who holds any kind of a job, gets sick leave, at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked .

          Sounds good, doesn't it .

          Here's the rub.
        First , in listening to and reading testimony and talking with the people lobbing with signs in favor of the bill, I have yet to discover one person with a
full time job who does NOT have sick leave (or "personal leave" that is even more generous).
        In fact, there are already so many laws mandating various kinds of employee benefits on the books in federal and state law, that it's hard to see how a business could fail to offer such leave.  Among these, are:
o   The  Maryland Wage Payment & Collection Law
o   The  Maryland Wage & Hour Law
o   Adoption Leave Law
o   Deployment Leave Law
o   The Healthy Retail Employee Act
o   Workers Compensation
o   T he Maryland Occupational Safety & Health Act
o   The MD Flexible Leave Act
o   Unemployment Compensation and withholding laws
o   The Job Applicant Fairness Act
o   User name & password privacy protection act
o   Minimum wage and Overtime laws
o   Equal pay law
o   Employment Standards service
o   Hostile work environment laws
o   FMLA - the Family & Medical Leave Act
o   The ADA-American's with Disabilities Act
o   OSHA - Occupational Safety & Health Act
o   The Fair Labor Standards Act
o   ERISA, and
o   COBRA        
        Second, rather than focus on how best to accommodate the needs of individual employees to have paid (or even unpaid) sick leave within a regulatory framework that accommodates the concerns of business, the authors have focused most of their attention on "how to control and punish all those bad employers!"    Here are some of the provisions of the bill of most concern:
  • No provisions to guard against employee fraud
  • Provisions in the bill that conflict with provisions in federal law (FMLA)
  • Requires sick leave be provided to part time and seasonal employees working a minimum of 8 hours per week
  • Scope of the bill would require expansive new computer programs for record-keeping, 
  • Provides up to 80 hours of annual sick leave -- up to 56 hours of which can be carried over to the next year
  • Must reinstate any unused sick & safe leave if an employee is rehired within nine months after leaving
  •  Sick & safe leave can be taken for a very broad variety of reasons:
    • The employee's mental or physical condition
    • To get preventative care for employee or family member ( the definition of "family member" has 10 paragraphs and includes virtually anyone with any care-giving connection to the employee at any time.  For example, "an individual who acted as a parent to the employee or the employee's spouse when the employee or the employee's spouse was a minor" )
    • To care for a family member with a mental or physical condition
    • To take care of any phase of a sexual assault or stalking of the employee or any family member.
  • Although businesses with fewer than 15 employees only have to provide unpaid sick & safe leave, the method of determining the number of employees is based on the previous year and requires counting even those employees who would not qualify for sick & safe leave.
        I sometimes suspect that bills such as this are drafted to contain certain provisions that are so obviously bad, that the makers can show compromise by amending them.   For example: 
  1. The original bill required a totally unrealistic effective date of six months from now, on  October 1, 2016  
  2. The original bill had no provision requiring an employee to give any prior notice to the employer.    The impact on any business that relies on part-time or seasonal workers -- particularly restaurants and the hospitality industry -- would be devastating!
  3. the original bill allowed an employee to sue the employee for violating any part of the act, and be eligible not only to recover the unpaid sick and safe leave and any actual economic damages, but treble damages, reasonable counsel fees, other costs and to get injunctive relief. 
        Third, there has been no thought given to whether it is appropriate or practicable to require employers to give sick leave to part-time employees.  It's possible there may be circumstances that warrant it; but there are so many reasons that people work part-time jobs, that forcing such an overwhelming burden--in both time and money--particularly on small businesses, without making an effort to determine the precise need, is simply wrong.
         Fourth, and finally, the makers of this bill have completely ignored the voluminous testimony of  more than 44 individuals, businesses, public school systems, and associations as well as the comments of fellow Delegates who own restaurants and small businesses that documents the problems this piece of legislation will cause. They are listed in the table below.

Public School Superintendents' Association
Society for Human Resource Management
Maryland Assoc. of Boards of Education
Maryland School Bus Contractors Assoc.
Harford County Public Schools
Maryland Assoc. of Community Colleges
MD Independent College and University Assoc.
University System of Maryland
Maryland Multi-Housing Association
Anne Arundel County Office of Personnel
Apartment & Office Building Assoc.of Metropolitan DC
Associated Builders & Contractors
MD State Builders Association
Maryland Motor Truck Association
Nat'l Federation of Independent Businesses
Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce
Prince Georges County CoC
Howard County Chamber of Commerce
Greater Bethesda Chevy-Chase CoC
Greater Silver Spring CoC
Montgomery County CoC
Gaithersburg-Germantown CoC
Baltimore Washington Corridor CoC
Greater Ocean City Chamber of commerce
Ligon & Ligon General Contractors
Printing & Graphics Association Mid-Atlantic
Shapiro & Duncan (contractors
Ace's Run Restaurant & Pub (Oakland, MD)
DaveCo  (Wendy's 99 MD Restaurants)
Glory Days Grill
Chesapeake Foods, Inc./MD Foods, Inc.
Clover Restaurant Group
Green Turtle Franchising C
The Pussers Carribbean Grille Restaurant
Silver Diner, Inc.
Dough Roller Restaurants
Great American Restaurant-Coastal Flats
Clyde's Restaurant Group
Rommel Holdings, Inc.
Thompson Hospitality
Restaurant Association of Maryland
        The bill has been sold to the public as "let's give everyone sick leave."  When asked if this is something they would like, a large percentage of the people say yes.  Heck, we ALL would like to have good things -- especially if they are free.  But when the survey asks if people want sick leave, if . . . followed by the potential for some of the effects of the law, the majority flips.  Even if it's just "increased prices" that would follow, 51% of the people say, no.

        Although the presumption is that the Senate will kill the bill this year, it is also presumed that the bill will be passed either next year or in 2018.  The Majority Party seems to believe that this is a good "election year issue."  

        I'm not sure they are right.
Don't forget to VOTE
          Maryland's primary elections will be held on Tuesday, April 26 (with early voting beginning on April 14).  
           Only those affiliated with a political party can vote for President or Congress.
          Independents (unaffiliated) can vote in the important SCHOOL BOARD races!
HCPSS Board of Education Candidates Forum
Focus on Special Education

Monday April 11th, 7 pm - 9 pm
Howard Community College
Duncan Hall Building
Room DH 100
Kittleman Multi-purpose room
This is your opportunity to hear directly from each of the Howard County Board of Education candidates on their positions related to special education programs, issues and concerns in the Howard County Public School System.

Planned Format:
  • Each candidate will introduce themselves and their platform
  • Each candidate will then respond to pre-supplied topics as provided by the organizers from the pool of questions submitted by the community.
  • For the second hour, attendees will be split into groups.  Candidates will then rotate through each of the groups, allowing for more individual questions to be asked by the attendees.
We encourage everyone in the community to attend and show our next BOE members the importance of a strong special education program at HCPSS

Please plan on arriving at least 15 minutes early to minimize any distractions and allow for a prompt 7 pm start to the forum.  Seating is limited!

Please submit your desired questions/topics for consideration to be discussed to  no later than  Thursday, March 31.

This event brought to you by:
Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee
The Arc of Howard County Education Committee
Howard County Autism Society Education Advocacy Committee
HCPSS Family Support and Resource Center
Scholarship Information
April 10th Deadline.

District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship. Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking under-graduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply. 
For questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with   Chelsea Leigh Murphy  at   410-841-3556.  

Please be sure to have your completed application   postmarked by April 10, 2016 .

  Click here  to download the scholarship application for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy