Thursday, February 23, 2006

Riding the Slippery Slope

Previously, I and many, many others, including the Washington Post, lambasted the Maryland General Assembly for the passage of the Wal-Mart bill, the law that requires employers with more than 10,000 employees in the state to pay at least 8% of their payroll toward health care or pay the difference into the State's Medicaid fund. Well, some jackass lawmaker has decided to punish all small businesses with a similar provision:
A Democratic lawmaker is aiming to force Maryland's small businesses to pay a minimum level of employee health benefits, expanding the so-called "Wal-Mart tax" to nearly every business in the state.

The bill by Delegate James W. Hubbard, Prince George's Democrat, would require businesses with fewer than 10,000 employees to spend 4.5 percent of payroll on employee health care or pay an equivalent amount to the state's Medicaid program. Nonprofit businesses with fewer than 10,000 employees would have to spend 3 percent or give the money to Medicaid.

The proposal closely resembles the bill Democrats passed this year over the veto of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican. It requires businesses with more than 10,000 employees to pay 8 percent of payroll on employee health benefits or pay it to Medicaid. Wal-Mart is the only business in the state that doesn't comply. (emphasis added)
It is one thing (not a good thing, but one thing) to force large businesses to pay a floor on health care. It is a vastly different one to force small businesses to do the same thing. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce, made this comment:
Last session, the Chamber repeatedly warned that the “Wal-Mart Bill” sets a dangerous precedent, and that the bill serves as the framework for the certain expansion of this health care mandate and payroll tax to all employers in future years – the camel’s nose under the tent.

Well, on Wednesday that camel started stinking up the tent, as Delegate James W. Hubbard (District 23A) introduced legislation (HB 1510) that would extend the payroll tax to all employers.
Small businesses are truly the engine that drives the American economy, see fact on small businesses at the National Federation of Independent Business Some how the Maryland General Assembly has not gotten the message that if you put too many regulations on small business, they are not very likely to start a business in Maryland, why would they? I recommend that the General Assembly look at this information, compiled by the Small Business Administration.

It seems that bills like this seem to almost beg for a wholesale tossing out of the General Assembly in this election year. This is not only bad policy, it is really bad politics. This is just plain stupid. Most businesses in Maryland are small businesses and making this kind of mandate law will more than likely force them out of business. Dumb, just plain dumb.

No comments: