Ehrlich Seeks Pro-Business Assembly; Effort Is a 'Historic Challenge'
Byline: S.A. Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
BALTIMORE - Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday urged business leaders to embark on a "historic challenge" to rid the General Assembly of anti-business lawmakers in next year's elections.
"You must aggressively challenge members who consistently vote against jobs and growth and opportunity and prosperity," Mr. Ehrlich told about 450 executives attending a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
"You must convince competitive-seat members of the Maryland General Assembly that you are a powerful, pertinent political player in the state of Maryland. That is not an easy test to pass."
The luncheon is hosted annually by Maryland Business for Responsive Government (MBRG), a bipartisan business lobby.
In his keynote address, Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, also called on business leaders to pressure lawmakers not to override his veto of the so-called Wal-Mart bill.
The bill, which passed both chambers with sufficient votes to override a veto, would force companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits or contribute an equivalent amount to the state Medicaid program. Currently, only Wal-Mart would be affected.
Mr. Ehrlich warned that every state business could soon face similar mandates if the Wal-Mart bill becomes law. He is expected to veto the legislation next month.
He said defeating "bad bills" pushed by the Democratic-controlled legislature were his administration's greatest accomplishments, including staving off proposed increases in taxes on sales, personal and corporate income, gasoline and vending machines.
But he said he needs business leaders to become more involved in defeating anti-business lawmakers or else the Democratic leadership will continue to pass measures such as the Wal-Mart bill.
"[T]he Annapolis monopoly remains unaccountable and dismissive of a business community unaccustomed to exacting consequences for bad behavior," Mr. Ehrlich said.
MBRG President Robert O.C. "Rocky" Worcester told The Washington Times that Mr. Ehrlich has helped raise his group's profile, with attendance at the annual luncheon nearly doubling since last year. …