Maryland sick leave, minimum wage bills draw fire -- Gazette.Net


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Business leaders opposed bills in a hearing this week that would increase the minimum wage and allow employees up to seven days of paid sick leave annually.

The sick leave bill was heard Wednesday in the House Economic Matters Committee and has attracted 40 co-sponsors in the House. More than 700,000 private-sector workers in Maryland do not earn sick days, and the measure would cost Maryland employers about $192 million annually, according to a state legislative analysis that cited a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The minimum wage bill, also heard Wednesday in the same committee, has attracted some 58 co-sponsors in the House. More than 500,000 workers in Maryland would receive $778 million in additional wages over the phase-in period of the proposal, according to a state legislative analysis citing the Economic Policy Institute. The measure would raise the minimum wage to $8.25 in July, $9 in July 2014 and $10 in July 2015.

The bills are well-meaning but bad for business, said Deriece Pate Bennett, vice president of government affairs for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

“Government mandates like these will hurt businesses as they are slowly recovering from this down economy,” she said.

The House committee had not voted on the proposals as of Thursday afternoon.

Leaders support cybersecurity tax credit

Business leaders applauded a bill that would create a state income tax credit to invest in cybersecurity companies. The bill was heard Tuesday in the House Ways and Means Committee.

The proposal by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) would be modeled after the biotechnology investment tax credit program. An investor who puts at least $25,000 in a cybersecurity company could claim a credit equal to 33 percent of the investment, not to exceed $250,000.

The company would have to be a for-profit entity that has not been in business for more than five years, has fewer than 50 full-time employees but a capitalization of at least $100,000, and has its headquarters and operations base in Maryland. Public companies would be ineligible.

O’Malley budgeted $3 million for the program in his proposed fiscal 2014 budget. The proposal would take effect July 1.

“Maryland has a sweet spot in cybersecurity and telemedicine,” said Sean Looney, vice president of state government affairs for Comcast, in the hearing. “We could lead every other state in the nation if we do this right.”

kshay@gazette.net