Maryland legislators pass helpful dealer bills and expanded workplace rules

Maryland legislators pass helpful dealer bills and expanded workplace rules

Not atypically, members of the General Assembly in Maryland passed some good legislation and some not so good legislation in the recently concluded session in Annapolis. Dealers fared well with a helpful franchise measure that passed, while employers statewide will need to figure out an unprecedented new sick leave law.

Dealer performance standards

The General Assembly passed a bill, sponsored by MADA with WANADAês support, that clarifies dealer performance standards in franchise agreements. State dealer performance standards will now apply to manufacturers despite any other agreements. The bill also provides that an assigned market area or performance standard, sales objective or program for measuring dealership performance must take into consideration specified factors that make the process more fair to dealers. The bill takes effect October 1.

Paid sick-leave bill

As has been well publicized, Maryland Democrats, who dominate the General Assembly, passed a paid sick-leave bill with a veto-proof margin. That likely makes Republican Gov. Larry Hoganês promise of a veto an empty threat. But any veto override would delay enactment of the law until at least January 1, 2018. Analysts predict the bill will affect about 700,000 Maryland employees.

The final version of the sick-leave bill requires businesses with 15 or more employees to offer five days of paid sick leave a year, prorated according to hours worked. The time can be used for the employeeês illness, preventive medical care or care for a sick family member. The bill applies to employees 18 or older who work 12 or more hours a week and specifically includes such workers as janitors, building cleaners, building security officers, doorkeepers, and handymen and handywomen. Independent contractors are not included.

The bill will make Maryland one of the few states in the country, plus DC, to mandate paid sick leave. As of October 1, 2016, Montgomery County, MD, has a law requiring paid sick leave. The Montgomery County law is stronger than the one coming in Maryland, applying to every employee who works more than eight hours a week, which in turn can tigger up to seven paid days off per year and up to three more unpaid days. The county law also allows other reasons for leave, such as time to seek help from a victimsê organization and temporary relocation due to domestic violence or stalking.

Plug-in EV tax credits and EV Recharging Equipment Rebate Program

In another positive direction for dealers, the newly passed Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2017 extends the qualified plug-in electric vehicle excise tax credit and the Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment Rebate Program through June 30, 2020. The credit for customers is available for qualified vehicles that are –purchased new and titled for the first time on or after July 1, 2017, but before July 1, 2020.” The bill also increases program funding to an annual maximum of $3 million in credits each year through fiscal 2020. The credit amount is reduced to $100 times the number of kilowatt-hours battery capacity of the vehicle, to a maximum of $3,000. Qualifying vehicles must have a total purchase price of $60,000 or less and a battery capacity of at least 5 kilowatt-hours. The bill takes effect July 1.

Shorter audit period for dealer chargebacks did not pass

Other franchise protection legislation did not pass the General Assembly this year. SB 566 would have reduced the audit period during which manufacturers could charge back payment or credits made to dealers under warranty and sales incentive reimbursement programs. The bill clarified language on denials of reimbursement for clerical errors and clarified the meaning of –adverse action” on claims made by dealers.

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