Maryland House Passed Shutdown Contingency Plan

Maryland lawmakers are attempting to take precautionary steps to protect federal workers in their state in case of another government shutdown. Legislation which passed the state House of Delegates last week would provide essential government employees working without pay access to state unemployment insurance.

While employees on furlough can apply for unemployment benefits to make ends meet during a shutdown, employees deemed essential must often continue working without pay and without access to financial assistance.

The state cannot open up access to federal unemployment funds; however, the proposed legislation would make essential employees eligible for monetary assistance from an established state trust fund.

According to the Washington Post, the Federal Government Shutdown Employee Assistance Loan Fund would be created through a budget amendment to transfer money from the state’s catastrophic event account. The fund would provide employees with interest-free loans that would be paid back once the government reopened and retroactive pay was granted.

The legislation was introduced by Delegate Jessica Feldmark (D-12), a freshman state lawmaker.

It passed the House on a 119-20 vote which ended in an eruption of applause because the bill was Feldmark’s first successful piece of legislation.

Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (D-34A) wrote in the Baltimore Sun, “We are working to address critical issues as a result of the extended federal government shutdown and its impact on our citizens… The last government shutdown directly affected over 170,000 workers in the state and the potential loss of over $1.400 billion from the local economy.”

Maryland has approximately 150,000 federal employees living within the state, making it one of the most populated states for federal workers. This figure does not include federal contractors.

The legislation will now move to the Maryland State Senate for a vote and, if passed, to Governor Larry Hogan (R) for a potential signature.

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