Debate over ERISA Preemption with Maryland's Passage of the "Fair Share Health Care Fund Act"

From the Wall Street Journal–“Maryland Votes To Override Veto Of Wal-Mart Bill“:

Maryland legislators voted to become the first state to enact a law forcing large employers — namely Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — to pay a penalty if they fail to spend a certain amount of their payrolls in the state on health insurance for their workers.

The Senate voted 30-17 to override Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s veto of the bill last year. The Maryland House followed suit last night with an 88-50 vote for the override.

The bill proposed requiring employers with more than 10,000 workers in Maryland to pay a penalty to the state’s health-insurance program if they fall short of paying an amount equal to 8% of their payroll in the state for health insurance for those employees. . .

The debate could continue in the courts. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has argued that the potential new law will conflict with federal employment law, namely the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Supporters counter that it isn’t pre-empted by ERISA.

Access a summary of the bill here and the text of the bill itself here.

Important links regarding the debate:

This article from CNNMoney.com–“Maryland bill a big blow for Wal-Mart? Other states also considering bills that penalize companies for falling short on healthcare plans“-gives a run-down of the states that have tried to pass similar legislation:

Although the efforts failed in Arizona, California, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Tennessee, and was vetoed by Maryland’s and Vermont’s governors, the measure is still alive in five other states.

They include New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

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