AFT-Maryland 2022 Legislative Report

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Click for a video recap of the 2022 Legislative Session from AFT-Maryland.

2022 Maryland Legislative Session Report
Denise Riley, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, AFT-Maryland

AFT-Maryland had a tremendously successful 2022 legislative session. All our bills passed to the governor’s desk, one was signed into law, and one was vetoed by Gov. Hogan – but we were able to override it. AFT-MD and our affiliate unions supported several bills that also passed and worked within coalitions on legislation that is currently on the governor’s desk.

AFT-MD, our affiliate unions’ leadership, their staff, and members testified in over 22 hearings. AFT-MD alone submitted over 65 pieces of written testimony, and this does not include all the written testimony from our affiliate unions and their members, which is difficult to keep track of and very much appreciated. And a very special thank you to the union members who used personal leave to testify on bills - you are our heroes!

Despite confusion over Covid-19 protocols and a change to in-person hearings mid-session by the senate, we got through this quite difficult, for multiple reasons, legislative session. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we have made the lives of working people and their families a little better. 

 


AFT-MARYLAND BILLS

Teachers in Corrections
HB 139 passed both houses and waits on the governor’s desk. This legislation makes “special appointment” teachers in both juvenile and adult corrections full state employees and will allow them to become members of Maryland Professional Employees Council, MPEC Local 6197, and finally have a voice at the table. The bill was sponsored by the House Majority Leader, 
Del. Eric Luedtke.

Maryland Transportation Police (MTA)
AFT-MD’s bill to give the MTA sergeants and supervisors collective bargaining rights passed, was vetoed by the governor, we overrode the veto, and the bill is now law. Sen. Pam Beidle and Del. Pat Young sponsored SB 475/HB 580 that will allow MTA workers to form a union with Maryland Classified Employees Association, MCEA Local 1935. 

 

Park Ranger Associates
AFT-MD introduced a bill, sponsored by Sen. Ron Young and Del. Steve Johnson, to reclassify park ranger associates, who are represented by MPEC Local 6197, as first responders. The bill was incorporated into the “Great Maryland Outdoors Act” sponsored by Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Eric Luedtke. SB 451/HB 727 was signed into law and will:

  • Rename Park Ranger Associates as Park Rangers
  • Reclassify Park Rangers as first responders
  • Add Park Rangers to the Hometown Heroes tax deferment on the first $15k of their retirement income
  • Give Park Rangers the ability to issue parking citations
  • Cover Park Rangers under presumptive language on Lyme Disease - meaning you will not have to prove you were exposed to Lyme Disease on the job to obtain workers' compensation coverage, and will
  • Provide $12 million for the hiring and retaining of state park personnel.

911 Specialists
SB 374/HB 439 will reclassify 911 specialists as first responders. AFT-MD pushed to add this provision in the comprehensive 911 bill sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Kagan and Del. Terri Hill. Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees, BCFPE Local 4883 and City Union of Baltimore, CUB Local 800, represent 911 specialists in Baltimore County and Baltimore City, and their members may join the other eight states in the nation who recognize 911 specialists as first responders if the bill is signed or allowed to go into law. 

Education Support Personnel (ESP)
SB 831/HB 1349 provides $8 million for ESP bonuses in FY23, already approved in the budget and a $500 bonus for FY24. AFT-MD worked with our coalition partners MSEA, SEIU and AFSCME on the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Craig Zucker and Del. Shaneka Henson. The bill is on the governor’s desk and awaits his approval or veto.

Union Dues Tax Break
Union members will be able to deduct up to $300 of their union dues from their state taxes if Gov. Hogan signs HB 172 into law. This bill, sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke, was originally introduced by AFT-MD two years ago to allow members the tax deduction at the state level after the Republican tax legislation took it away at the federal level.

 


AFFILIATE SUPPORTED BILLS

AFT Healthcare-Maryland, Local 5197, supported and testified on SB 402/HB 417, which will allow retired state healthcare workers to temporarily return to work and still receive their pension payments to help alleviate the current staff shortage. The bill was introduced by the administration and is now in law.

SB 409/HB 472, a bill supported by the state employee unions, would extend by one year the Covid-19 death benefit for state employees required to report in-person to work. The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Brooke Lierman and the bill is on the governor’s desk.

 


COALITION BILLS

VOTES Coalition
The Voices Toward an Elected School Board (VOTES) coalition was able to pass a bill to establish a task force to study compensation for student members of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.

SB 157/HB 433 is sponsored by Sen. Jill Carter and Del. Melissa Wells and awaits the governor’s signature.

 

Time to Care Coalition
The coalition, of which AFT-MD is a member, was able to save the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program from nearly being reduced to yet another study. It was then vetoed by the governor, but it was overridden by the legislature. SB 275/HB 8 sponsored by Sen. Antonio Hayes and Del. Kris Valderrama, establishes paid family leave with the following provisions:

  • Applies to employers with 15 or more employees
  • Access to it begins January 1, 2025 and requires a 30 day notice to employer
  • Leave may be taken for
    • Care of a newborn child
    • Care of a qualifying family member with a serious health condition
    • Serious health condition for the covered employee
  • The program provides 12-weeks of benefits. An additional 12-weeks may be taken if the covered employee experiences their own serious health condition
  • All other leave must be exhausted before program benefits are accessed
  • Leave shall be taken with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Department of Labor (DLR) will determine the percentage of contributions by employers and employees. Those collective bargaining agreements that already have paid family leave will have to be adjusted to accommodate the changes in the law.

 


THE BUDGET

AFT-MD was able to enter language in the State Budget that will require the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) administration to submit a detailed report on their plan for potential department closures and employee separations. This is important as AFT-MD works with BCCC staff to organize their union, once they legally have collective bargaining rights in 2024.

The FY23 budget passed by the state legislature includes $800 million of education funds for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, and additional federal funds of $1.4 billion for educator pay and other programs. Gov. Hogan, in his last year, attempted to cut funding by $125 million to Baltimore City and Prince George's County school districts. These two school districts represent about half of all Black students in the state. Through political pressure by AFT-MD, Baltimore Teachers Union Local 340, MSEA, pro-education legislators, and the public, Hogan reversed his decision and fully funded the schools in his supplemental budget. 

 


BILLS KILLED IN COMMITTEE

A bill to increase funding for the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program for school vouchers was defeated. Legislation to allow special appointment positions in the Maryland State Department of Education did not get out of committee due to heavy lobbying by AFT-MD and MPEC. 

Finally, once again, labor was able to strike down a bill that would make Maryland a “right to work” state. In states that have imposed “right to work,” salaries and benefits are lower for all workers, which is why we call it “right to work for less”.


Again thank you to leadership, staff and members.

A special thank you to President Kenya Campbell and Todd Reynolds for their yeoman’s work during this legislative session, and all of the AFT-Maryland staff for their help and assistance.