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CEO Bratsakis Talks About the Power of Advocacy at AMC


V oters head to the polls later this month for primaries in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Early voting is underway in D.C. with Maryland starting tomorrow.
First up is the District, where June 19 is primary day. On the ballot are candidates for Attorney General, D.C. Delegate, Mayor, Council Chairman,  At-Large Council Member, and Council seats in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6. The incumbents are favored to win in most of the races.
Maryland will hold its primary on June 26. The latest poll from The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore shows former NAACP Chief Ben Jealous and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker as the frontrunners in a crowded field of what is now six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. On Tuesday, Democrat Valerie Ervin dropped out of the primary race and endorsed Baker. 

The poll also revealed that among Democrats, Governor Larry Hogan remains popular. 60 percent of Democrats who say they are likely to vote in their party's primary, approve of the job Hogan is doing. Meantime, Governor Hogan kicked off his reelection bid this past weekend in Annapolis.
With seven out of eight House seats held by Democrats, Maryland's 6 th Congressional District is the only race that appears competitive. Incumbent Democrat John Delaney is giving up his seat to run for president. Eight Democrats and Four Republicans are on the ballot. Leading contenders include businessman David Trone who has contributed $5.2 million of his own money through the first quarter of 2018 in his bid for the Democratic nomination, and Republican Amie Hoeber who ran against Delaney in 2016.

The D.C. Council passed and the Mayor approved a bill that updates the District's consumer protection laws, raising penalties for deceptive business practices. Congress has until July 24, 2018 to weigh in on the legislation before it becomes law. A bill has been introduced to reenact D.C.'s Credit Union Act. The bill would authorize the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) to charter, supervise, regulate, examine and exercise other powers related to the operation of credit unions. There has been no movement on the bill.

John Bratsakis
District of Columbia Legislative Update

Credit Union Act of 2017
The bill includes provisions that authorize the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DSIB) to charter, supervise, and regulate credit unions; specifies the process and authority for the merger, dissolution, and expansion of District credit unions; requires DISB to deposit fees received from regulation of credit unions into the Securities and Banking Trust Fund; and established rules of operation for credit unions.

Consumer Protection Clarification and Enhancement Act of 2017 
Updates key portions of the District's Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) to make it consistent with similar statutes in other states and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) law. Among other things, it establishes what is an "unfair" business practice and raises the amount of civil penalties that the District can assess per violation. Initially the bill called for $2500 for the first offense, and $5000 for the second/repeating offenses. The bill was later amended to make the first offense between $1000-$5000 and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. The bill has been approved by Mayor Bowser. Congress has until July 24, 2018 to weigh in on the legislation before it becomes law.  

Financial Services Consumer Protection Act of 2017
The bill adds several licensing categories and regulatory requirements to non-depository financial institutions including currency exchangers, retail sellers and debt collectors. Banks, trust companies, foreign bank agencies, credit unions, savings banks, and savings and loan associations authorized to do business in the District, or which qualify as federally insured depository institutions, and U.S. agencies are exempt. The bill would create and expand requirements for three industries: (1) Currency Exchange stores, (2) Consumer Product Financing Companies, (3) Collection Agencies.

Wage Garnishment Fairness Amendment Act of 2017
Establishes limits on the amount that can be garnished from an individual's wages by factoring in gross wages and disposable wages. It prevents wage garnishment from individuals making less than a living wage and requires notice be provided to those whose wages will be garnished. 

Maryland Legislative Update

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018
The law takes effect October 1, 2018 and prohibits employers from requiring employees to enter into any agreement that waives any "substantive or procedural right or remedy" to a sexual harassment claim that accrues in the future (e.g., requiring arbitration). 

The bill also includes a reporting requirement for sexual harassment claims.  Starting July 1, 2020 and again, on or before July 1, 2022, each employer with 50 or more employees must submit a survey response to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights setting forth the following:
  • The number of settlements made by or on behalf of the employer after an allegation of sexual harassment by an employee.
  • The number of times the employer has paid a settlement to resolve a sexual harassment allegation against the same employee over the past 10 years of employment.
  • The number of settlements made after an allegation of sexual harassment that included a provision requiring both parties to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.
  • Whether the employer took a personnel action against an employee who was the subject of a settlement included in the survey.
This submission will essentially make information subject to public disclosure. The reporting requirement of the law will remain effective until July 30, 2023, unless extended by the legislature.