Thursday, July 2, 2009

2009 Legislative Ranks District 6

During the 2009 legislative session, the Maryland Business for Responsive Government (MBRG) kept track of how each Senator and Delegate voted on a variety of issues that they felt were important. The Maryland Business for Responsive Government is a primarily fiscally conservative organization that focuses on issues of business regulation, taxation, and other fiscal issues. A link to their report can be found here. As a concerned citizen, I first reviewed the scores that were given for the 2009 legislative session to those representing me here in the 6th Legislative District. Here are the scores -

Senator Stone - 0%
Delegate Minnick - 50%
Delegate Olszewski - 20%
Delegate Weir - 20%
These scores are very low for each of them except for Delegate Minnick, who voted with the MBRG 50% of the time. To help explain how the MBRG came up with their rankings, let us review some of their critical pieces of legislation. For brevity, I shall focus on three - two from the House and one from the Senate.

SB 1072, also known as the "Preakness Bill," is a circumvention of bankruptcy law. This bill allowed the state to condemn and seize the following properties which were in the process of bankruptcy proceedings -
"(1) Pimlico, Laurel, and Bowie race tracks and training facilities and any and all property or property rights (including a catering company) associated with these facilities, wherever located; (2) the multi-million dollar Preakness trophy known as the Woodlawn Vase; (3) the name, copyrights, service marks, trademarks, trade names and all other intellectual property associated with the Preakness and the Woodlawn Vase; and (4) all property and property rights of the Maryland Jockey Club, and Laurel Racing Association, and their affiliates."
This bill allows for quick condemnation whereby the state calculates what they think the property's worth, gives that to the owner, and if the owner disagrees - they have to sue the state if they want the full value of their property. It also shows that property owner's rights are not the highest priority for the Maryland legislature. This bill passed the Senate with my Senator, Norman Stone, voting in the affirmative. When this bill reached the House of Delegates - all three of my Delegates voted in the affirmative. The MBRG opposed this measure. So do I.

Next is HB 1288. If an employer is found violating minimum wage laws, an employee is allowed to sue for the pay they deserve under the law. If a court finds an employer guilty of violating this statute - they may allow against the employer the cost of legal fees for the employee as well. This piece of legislation would require the employer who violated this statute to pay the owed money, legal fees, and an additional two times the income difference. While requiring the back payments owed is a fee befitting the crime. Adding on the legal fees is a reasonable addition. A total of triple the owed difference in income goes to the point of overkill and excessive. Also, what person remains in a position once they realize that their income is less than the minimum wage. If the person is a citizen, they should know their rights. If the person is an illegal immigrant, then the employer has committed a different crime and should be penalized accordingly. The MPRG opposed this measure, which died in committee.

The final is HB 902, which is an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act. It requires employers to give people time off, FMLA time off, for the employee’s brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, and the child of an employee’s domestic partner. I understand the inclusion of domestic partners, especially with the current state of same-sex marriage legislation in Maryland. Now, it would be nice to have time off for my grandparents or siblings - but I do not feel this needs to be mandated by law. I understand their motivation. I understand the sentiment. Yet, I and MRPG disagree with this legislation. Current FMLA requirements are adequate.

While each of these pieces of legislation in and of themselves do not individually pose a threat to business in the state of Maryland, the compiled impact of all this legislation is a net drag on employers and companies in the State of Maryland. In a State which needs all the help it can to boost business - we can not become more unfriendly to business. No excessive fines, no excessive requirements, and no more abuse of eminent domain / circumvention of bankruptcy law.

No comments: