New Laws Effective January 1 2020

Minimum wage goes from $10.15 an hour to $11 an hour (MD State Law)

In  2019 Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that gradually increases the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $15 over a period of five years for companies with more than 15 employees (smaller businesses have six years to get there). The first required increase, which boosts the rate to $11 for all companies, takes effect Jan. 1.

New Overtime Rule (National Regulation)

Hourly workers receive time and a half pay after 40 hours of work.  Professionals, technical employees and managers had previously been exempted from overtime rules unless they made less than $12.27/hour ($445 a week or $23,600 annually).  Starting in January the threshold for professionals, technical employees and managers who have to be paid overtime increases to $17.78/hour ($684 weekly or $35,568 annually).  This means a lot of low paid managers (e.g. at fast food restaurants), professional (e.g. reporters at small newspapers), and technical workers (e.g. at internet companies) will have to be paid premium pay if they work more than 40 hours a week.  This does not apply to people who are paid as ‘independent contractors’.  But there are state and national laws that prohibit employers from paying people as independent contractors if they should be really classified as employees.  (Email me if you are in that situation and want some guidance about whether you’re being incorrectly classified.)

New Law Affecting Retirement Income (Federal Law)

A part of the huge budget deal recently passed by Congress and signed into law last month was the Secure Act.    This bill makes a number of changes affecting retirees.  A few of the significant provisions of the law are

Increases the age that a required minimum distribution (RMD) must start from 70½ to 72. Currently, people reaching 70½ must begin taking RMDs from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans. The new rule applies to people who turn 70 1/2 after Dec. 31.

Repeals the maximum age for making traditional IRA contributions, which is currently 70½. Workers will now be able to contribute to their IRAs past this age as long as they have earned income.

Another provision allows parents to withdraw up to $5,000 from their individual 401(k) or similar workplace plans for each new child without incurring a 10 percent additional tax for early retirement plan distributions. However, you still have to pay ordinary income taxes on the withdrawal, which has to be done within a year of the birth or adoption of a child. Parents can later put the money back into their retirement accounts.

Mandatory rape kit testing (MD State Law)

This bill requires that law enforcement agencies submit sexual assault evidence collection kits to forensic laboratories for testing within 30 days of receipt and calls for kit tests to be processed in a timely manner.

 

Beer franchise agreements (MD State Law)

Previously, a Maryland brewery that produced 20,000 or fewer barrels of beer per year had to provide distributors with 180 days’ notice before moving to terminate or renew a franchise agreement. Further, breweries were obligated to show good cause and provide distributors with 180 days to rectify deficiencies. This bill cuts the notice to 45 days and relieves sellers from having to show good cause or give a franchisee an opportunity to fix any problems.

 

Insurers banned from penalizing organ donors (MD State Law)

Insurers of life, disability and long-term care can no longer hike premiums, enforce surcharges, cancel policies or flat-out reject someone from coverage based on their status as an organ donor.

 

Reduction on Fees on Food Trucks (Prince George’s County Law)

Eliminates fees for businesses apply for food truck licenses.  Previously food truck owners had to pay $500 if they operated for few than two months and $3,400 if they operated for more than two months.  There is still a fee (reduced from $75 to $35) for inspections performed for the fire department.

 

Happy New Year Everyone and email me if you have any questions about any of these new laws!