Maryland enacts major workforce legislation

By Bryan Wilson, April 21, 2017

On April 11, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 317, More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017, a bill that the Governor requested. The many features of the bill include a business tax credit linked to job training, a tax credit for apprenticeships, a student financial aid program for non-credit training, and a goal for the percentage of high school students completing secondary career and technical education or other skills training.

Many states offer a tax break for new businesses or businesses increasing employment. SB 317 does that and more. It authorizes a business income tax credit for up to 10 years for new or expanding manufacturers equal to 5.75 percent of wages paid for qualified positions. The business must be located in Baltimore City, an economically distressed county, or on a site of 3,000 or more acres. But what is unique about SB 317, is that in order to qualify for the credit the manufacturer must offer “an ongoing job skills enhancement training program or a postsecondary education program that is approved by the Department of Commerce.”

For apprenticeships, the bill creates a tax credit against the business income tax for firms that employ an apprentice for at least seven months during a taxable year. The apprentice must be in a program registered with the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council. The tax credit is equal to $1,000 for the first year of employment for each apprentice, and may be carried forward to succeeding tax years until the full amount of the credit is claimed. Total credits are capped at $500,000 annually. In addition, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) must issue recommendations for creating apprenticeship programs at state agencies and on combining youth apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. According to Grant Shmelzer, the Executive Director of IEC Chesapeake, the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc., “This bill shows Maryland’s commitment to leading the country in expansion and promotion of apprenticeship based upon the needs of the residents and business in the state.”

The Act also creates a new $2 million financial aid program for students in non-credit training at a community college, Workforce Development Sequence Scholarships. To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must be a Maryland resident or have graduated from a Maryland high school and enrolled in a “Workforce Development Sequence” of courses—training related to job preparation, apprenticeship, licensure, certification, or job skills enhancement. An award may be used for tuition, mandatory fees, and other costs of attendance. A student may receive up to $2,000 per year. This new aid program is consistent with National Skills Coalition’s call for job-driven financial aid, and NSC provided technical assistance on this part of the bill.

Finally, The bill requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with DLLR and the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, to develop annual statewide goals such that by January 1, 2025, 45 percent of high school students successfully complete career and technical education, earn an industry-recognized occupational or skill credential, or complete a registered youth or other apprenticeship before graduating high school. And, by December 1, 2017, the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center and the Governor’s Workforce Development Board must develop annual income earnings goals for high school graduates who have not earned at least a two-year college degree by age 25.

See here to view the full Act.