2024 Legislative Session: Mid-Session (45-Day) Report

We’re Halfway!

This past weekend marked the halfway point for the 90-day Maryland General Assembly legislative session. AFSCME members were a green machine, packing the halls on Monday evening lobby nights, testifying at budget hearings, and showing support for our priority bills.

Monday, March 18th is the crossover deadline, the final date that bills must pass one chamber (House or Senate) to have a chance at final passage before the April 8 midnight deadline when the General Assembly adjourns, also known as Sine Die.

Please RSVP to join us at our remaining Action Nights to help us get important bills across the finish line!

For a refresher on the Maryland legislative process, click here.

Rebuilding our State Government: Securing our Negotiated Raises, Fighting Cuts, and Supporting Our Retirees

Governor Moore’s FY2025 budget includes funding for our negotiated raises, 2,400 new positions, and a number of contractual positions to be converted to full-time positions.

The Department of Legislative Services is recommending cutting our negotiated raises, but our members are pushing back effectively with powerful budget testimony, emphasizing the reality that despite these increases, more is still needed to ensure more competitive wages and proper staffing levels in many of our state agencies.

Still, there are additional cuts in the budget that we are concerned about and continue to push back on. One such cut is to the Cade Formula that funds our community colleges statewide. The budget will cut over $130 million in aid to community colleges in the next 5 years. We are encouraging our members at the community colleges our union represents to contact their legislators to fight against this cut.

Additionally, the budget proposes cuts to the state retiree prescription plan for Medicare-eligible retirees beginning on January 1, 2025, as they transition to Medicare Part D. This is the result of legislative action in 2011 when cost-saving measures were pursued during the Great Recession. Retirees took legal action, obtaining an injunction for a few years. Unfortunately, the courts ruled this past fall that it is legal for the legislature to make this transition. AFSCME opposes transitioning the prescription plan to Medicare Part D, and our retiree chapter has been leading the fight.

Absent a full restoration of the benefit, which the Legislature has been reluctant to do so far, we are also pushing to ensure that the three cost reimbursement programs established in SB 946 (2019), including extensive one-on-one counseling support for retirees to help make the transition to Part D this year, are properly implemented. More details on the Part D transition can be found in the FY25 DBM Personnel Budget Analysis. If you’re concerned with these cuts, please contact your legislators and encourage any state retirees you know to get involved with our retiree chapter.

The budget, which must be balanced, has to pass by April 1. For the remainder of this legislative session and over the next year, we will need to continue to be extremely vigilant to ensure that more is not cut as the Legislature and Administration grapple with overcoming a large structural deficit in future years. We continue to call for fair and equitable revenue increases rather than cutting state employees and programs.

AFSCME Council 3 Priority Bills – Status Updates

State Personnel - Collective Bargaining - Supervisory Employees (HB 260/SB 192)


What This Bill Does:
Enables collective bargaining rights for state supervisors in the Executive Branch who are in Bargaining Unit S.

This is our first bill to cross over! HB 260 passed the House with a vote of 109-29. SB 192 passed the Senate earlier this week with a vote of 35-10.

The bills now go to committee in their opposite chambers where they will need another favorable vote. They must then pass on 2nd and 3rd reader before finally crossing over a final time for consideration in their original chamber. They then are presented to the Governor for signature. While we still have a ways to go, big kudos to our AFSCME supervisors who have been lobbying successfully to get this done!

Arbitration Reform for State Employees Act of 2024 (HB 114/SB 188)


What This Bill Does:
Provides for a neutral arbitrator to make a binding decision when the parties reach impasse during state and higher education contract negotiations.  

SB 188 had a hearing in the Budget & Taxation Committee on Jan. 17. HB 114 had a hearing on Jan 30. So far, this bill has not moved and it’s time to ramp up our pressure! Please write and call legislators on the House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation committees to vote these bills out before crossover on March 18.

Take 2 minutes to send a letter here.

It's crucial that state and higher education employees express the importance of binding arbitration, because this enables a fair process for negotiating contracts, yearly COLAs, and merit increases. Currently, twenty-six other states and D.C. allow employees to have binding arbitration, as do 8 Maryland county jurisdictions and the Town of Ocean City. Maryland state and higher education employees deserve binding arbitration as well. Since this bill requires a constitutional referendum, the Legislature must pass it this session for it to go on the ballot in the fall during the general election.

You can watch the video of the SB 188 hearing here.
You can watch the video of the HB 114 hearing here.

Education - Public Libraries - Collective Bargaining (Library Workers Empowerment Act) (HB 609/SB 591)


What This Bill Does:
Provides for a fair and consistent process for public library workers across the state to unionize and collectively bargain.

HB 609 was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on February 13 as a sponsor-only hearing since the House passed this bill last year. SB 591 has a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, February 29th. We are working in a coalition of unions under the MD/DC AFL-CIO to pass this bill and the other public sector collective bargaining bills this session. We organized a successful press conference on February 1 with dozens of legislators in support.

Our library workers organizing with AFSCME in Howard and Anne Arundel Counties have been doing a great job telling their stories this session. We are working though some minor amendments currently and are hopeful we can get this bill over the hump this year if we keep the pressure up!

Correctional Officers' Retirement System - Membership (HB 1005/SB 972)


What it does:
This bill differs from other CORS (Correctional Officers' Retirement System) membership bills we've worked on because it addresses an error with certain MDH (Maryland Department of Health) titles in forensic facilities. These titles perform the same work as others in MDH who are included in CORS but have been excluded for decades.

Members travelled from as far as Cumberland to provide support at the SB 972 hearing in front of the Senate Budget and Tax committee on February 22. You can watch the hearing here. The next hearing is on Tues. March 5 at 12pm in front of the House Appropriations Committee, and we urge any impacted MDH members who can make it to come and join in support.