Photo: Kent County Chamber Executive Director Cindy Genther with Dist. 36 Senator E.J. Pipkin.
The Kent County Chamber of Commerce held its Pre-Legislative Session breakfast yesterday at Washington College’s Kirby Stadium in Chestertown.
Maryland Chamber President/CEO Kathy Snyder presented an overview of the State Chamber’s Business Agenda, and members of Kent County delegation discussed a number of important business issues. One theme that arose throughout the presentations was that Maryland businesses could see quite a bit of action in the workplace regulation area this session.
“The pattern has been the last few years that, if new programs can’t get funded, then we’ll see a radical move towards more regulation and other things to satisfy the interest groups,” said Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Dist. 36). “They say ‘I can’t give you money, but I sure can change the regs.’ After all, changing regulations is free to the state of Maryland, it’s just all of you in this room that pay for the regulations. That’s what the movement is in Annapolis, and that’s why we need your involvement.”
Lawmakers used last session’s Flexible Leave Act as an example. This law, which passed last session and took effect October 1, requires employers of 15 or more employees, who provide paid leave, to allow their employees to use their leave (sick, vacation or compensatory time) for the illness of a child, spouse or parent.
This session, workforce regulation proposals could include government-mandated break periods, an increase in the unemployment insurance maximum weekly benefit, health care mandates and more.
Del. Richard A. Sossi (R-Dist. 36) said there is, unfortunately, a dearth of business people in state legislature. As a result, business people have to remain vigilant, and monitor what goes on in Annapolis as it relates to workplace regulations. Del. Michael Smigiel (R-Dist. 36) agreed, and he urged attendees to stay engaged and show up in Annapolis for bill hearings to help educate lawmakers on the business impact of their actions.
“In addition to working through the Chambers, you need to show up when a bill is being heard,” Del. Smigiel said. “Go to the committees and speak out and tell people that this is going to affect you. You are a pocket to be picked in the minds of most people down in Annapolis.”
The Chamber Action Network will continue to fight to preserve employers’ ability to manage their workforce and construct employment wage and benefit policies that are tailored to best suit the needs of its employees. We believe government mandated “one-size fits all” employment policies impede an employer’s ability to provide competitive incentives that meet the specialized needs of a particular employee demographic, as well as the demands of an ever-changing economic climate.
Below is a video from the event with Dick Goodall, CEO of Dixon Valve & Coupling Company discussing how Maryland’s tax and regulatory structure impacts his business.