This week, Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and other members of the House Economic Matters Committee held a hearing on an emergency bill that would provide unemployment benefits to part time workers. Under the legislation, part time workers would be defined as those who work at least 15 hours per week. Many small businesses came in to testify against the legislation citing a tough economy and an already increased unemployment insurance rate. In September, the Secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) increased rates on businesses because more money was being paid out of the fund than was coming in.
Given the fact that more and more people will be collecting unemployment in the near future, businesses anticipate another increase in their insurance rate. With that in mind, legislators and business owners questioned why the bill was drafted as emergency legislation, which under Maryland’s constitution is traditionally reserved for threats to public safety and health. They also questioned the fact that the bill defines part time work as 15 hours per week rather than 20 hours per week.
The committee is expected to vote on the measure in the next few weeks.