Maryland's congressional delegation is among the most pro-labor, anti-business contingents in Washington, and that is hampering economic development in the state, a business group says in a study.
Maryland Business for Responsive Government, a group of corporate chief executives and other business interests, recently compared the voting records of lawmakers from all the 50 states and ranked Maryland 45th in terms of business issues.
The study examined votes in the 101st Congress in 1989 and 1990.
Maryland's Democratic Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes voted with business only 15 percent and 13 percent of the time, respectively. That gave them the lowest combined score for any state's pair of senators, the group said.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, got the lowest rating in the Maryland delegation, 11 percent. The highest ratings went to Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd, 83 percent, and Rep. Beverly B. Byron, D-6th, 67 percent.
The rank is based on a composite of scores given by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Independent Business and the Business-Industry Political Action Committee.
Each of these groups rates senators and representatives based on their votes on a sampling of bills important to the groups.
Included in the study was a similar ranking by the AFL-CIO, representing organized labor, which ranked the Maryland congressional delegation 5th, behind Massachusetts, West Virginia, Hawaii and North Dakota.
Mikulski and Sarbanes voted with labor 89 percent and 84 percent of the time, respectively; Hoyer 100 percent. Bentley and Byron both received scores of 38 percent, the lowest among Maryland lawmakers.
"A political climate that is adversarial to business is injurious to economic development in the longterm," said Robert O.C. Worcester, president of Maryland Business for Responsible Government. The group, which was formed in 1983, says it plans to issue the report annually.
Worcester said Maryland's lawmakers are out of touch with the mainstream and that can ultimately effect corporate decisions on where to locate or expand. Even though the lawmakers vote on national issues, the state's congressional delegation is viewed by business as a barometer of the state legislature on business issues, he said.
Worcester attributed Maryland's record on economic development -- one of the best in the nation over the past decade -- to hiring and spending by the federal government, the largest employer in the state.
However, Ed Mohler, president of the Maryland-DC AFL-CIO, disputed the claim that support for labor was contrary to economic development.
"Labor is definitely interested in economic development. It's our life blood. We want the business community to be as vital as [it] can," Mohler said.