Maryland’s legislature voted Thursday to enact a first-in-the-nation requirement that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spend more on employee health care. The measure, touted as a money-saver for the state-supported Medicaid program, takes effect despite a veto of the bill by the Republican governor.
Labor unions have said they are seeking similar legislation this year in at least 30 other states. Supporters say the retailing giant unfairly takes advantage of taxpayer-funded health care plans because some workers can’t afford Wal-Mart’s health insurance.
“The taxpayers are giving a health-care subsidy to the largest retailer on earth,” argued Democratic Delegate Kumar Havre. The House and Senate, both controlled by Democrats, both notched the three-fifths margins needed to override a veto last May by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
The bill requires companies with more than 10,000 Maryland employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on employee health care or pay the difference to the state in taxes.
Currently, only Wal-Mart would meet the criteria in Maryland. The company employs about 17,000 Marylanders at more than 40 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, and about 1.3 million people nationwide…
“We expect that today’s vote with generate important momentum in many other state legislatures,” said Nu Wexler, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Watch, which is funded by a union.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Maryland Overrides Health Care Veto
Via the Associated Press:
Posted by Neighborhood Retail Alliance at 9:52 AM