Arlington, Va., Retailers are discouraged that the Maryland State Legislature voted to override Governor Robert Ehrlich's veto of healthcare legislation that punishes the retail industry by imposing an unfair healthcare mandate on the state's largest and most successful employers, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). Lawmakers overruled Ehrlich's veto of the Fair Share Healthcare Act Fund, also described as the “Wal-Mart bill,” by a vote of 88 to 50 in the House, with one abstention after the Senate voted 30 to 17. The bill requires all employers with 10,000 or more employees to spend up to 8% of their total wages paid on employee healthcare benefits.
“This legislation makes no attempt to control skyrocketing healthcare costs, and it creates a hostile environment for Maryland retailers leading to fewer jobs, reduced tax revenues and a weakened economy," said RILA president Sandy Kennedy. "It sets a bad precedent for other state legislatures that want to shift the burden of healthcare costs onto retailers. Instead of mandating retailers pay a fixed amount for healthcare, lawmakers should address the real problem of healthcare costs and work to enact cost-reducing legislation."
Wal-Mart’s organized critics celebrated the bill’s passage.
WakeUpWalMart.com Campaign director Paul Blank said Maryland “delivered an inspiring message” to the rest of America.
Wal-Mart is reportedly investigating the possibility of a legal challenge to the law.
“The government has no place dictating to companies what health benefits they offer, period—let alone targeting a single scapegoat company for punishment,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, a conservative think tank.