Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Walmart Bill" Struck Down

A U.S. District Court today struck down Maryland's "Fair Share" Act, which has also been nicknamed the "Walmart Bill." The law would have required private employers with over 10,000 workers in the state to spend at least 8% of their payroll on health care costs or be subject to having to pay an amount equal to the deficit to a state fund. The legislation, which was scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2007, would have theoretically affected only 4 employers in the state, but Walmart was openly declared by both legislators and supporters of the bill to be its target.

The court ruling essentially rested on two grounds. The new law runs afoul of pre-emptive federal ERISA requirements that govern health benefit plans. The judge also ruled that the Maryland law violated equal protection laws under the U.S. Constitution.

Labor unions last year engaged in a national effort to pass similar bills in over 30 states, but they only succeeded in duping the Maryland legislature into actually adopting it, ultimately by overriding the Governor's veto. Because of this court decision, hopefully these attempts will be put to rest.


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