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(a) Definitions. In this Article the following terms have the following meanings:
Certified Small Business With Health Insurance means a business certified by the Director as meeting the standards established by regulation for a Small Business With Health Insurance.
Contract means a contract for procurement services subject to the Wage Requirements Law in Section 11B-33A.
Director means the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Director’s designee.
Health insurance means insurance coverage that pays for medical expenses incurred by an employee and an employee’s family either by reimbursing the employee or by paying the care provider directly and provides the minimum essential health benefits required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 26 U.S.C. §5000A, as amended.
Health insurance evaluation factor means an evaluation factor in a request for proposals that gives an offeror credit for being a certified Business With Health Insurance.
Percentage price preference means the percent by which a responsive bid from a responsible bidder who is a certified Business With Health Insurance may exceed the lowest responsive bid submitted by a responsible bidder who is not a certified Business With Health Insurance.
Small Business With Health Insurance means a business that:
(1) has 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees; and
(2) provides an employer benefit package that includes health insurance for each employee who provides services to the County under a contract; or
(3) demonstrates that each employee who provides services to the County has health insurance from another source.
(b) Regulation. The County Executive must adopt a regulation under Method 2 that establishes:
(1) an application process for a business to be certified as a Small Business With Health Insurance;
(2) standards for a business to meet to be certified as a Small Business With Health Insurance;
(3) the amount of a percentage price preference for a Small Business With Health Insurance under a solicitation for competitive sealed bidding; and
(4) a Small Business With Health Insurance evaluation factor for use in a request for proposals.
(c) Certification. The Director must certify a business that meets the standards established by regulation as a Small Business With Health Insurance. A false statement on an application for certification is a Class A violation.
(d) Role of Office of Procurement and Department of Health and Human Services.
(1) The Office of Procurement must review all specifications of each using department to assure compliance with this Section, appropriate use of a percentage price preference or an evaluation factor, and consistency among using departments procuring similar services.
(2) The Department of Health and Human Services must:
(A) operate the certification process;
(B) permit pre-certification as a Small Business With Health Insurance; and
(C) maintain a list of businesses that have been certified as a Small Business With Health Insurance.
(e) Denial or revocation of certification. The Director may refuse to certify a business under this Section, and may suspend or revoke a certification issued under this Section, after a hearing for which reasonable notice has been given, if the business or applicant does not meet the standards for certification as a Small Business With Health Insurance.
(f) Notice and opportunity for hearing.
(1) Notice. After finding that one or more grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of a certification could exist, the Director may serve a written notice on the business or applicant in person or by regular mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the person’s last known address as maintained in the Director’s file. Service on that person by mail is effective 3 days after mailing. The written notice must, at a minimum:
(A) state that the Director has found that the business or applicant may be subject to denial, suspension, or revocation of the certification;
(B) identity the specific grounds for the Director’s findings; and
(C) set a date for a hearing on denial of the application or suspension or revocation of the certification.
(2) Hearing. The Director or a designee may conduct the hearing. At the hearing, the business or applicant may present evidence and witnesses to refute the grounds cited by the Director for denying the application or suspending or revoking the certification, and the County and any other person may submit relevant evidence. The relevant records of the Office are part of the hearing record. The person conducting the hearing must render a decision in writing, giving the reasons for the decision. That decision is final, subject to judicial review under the Maryland Rules for review of administrative decisions in the Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals.
(3) Failure to appear. A business or applicant who after notice does not appear at a hearing waives the right to a hearing and consents to the action that the Director proposed in the notice. The Director may deny the application or suspend or revoke the certification as proposed in the notice.
(g) Appeals. Any person aggrieved by the denial, suspension, or revocation of any certification under this Section may seek judicial review under the Maryland Rules for review of administrative decisions in the Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals.
(h) Report by Office of Procurement. The Director of the Office of Procurement, after consulting with the Director of Health and Human Services, must submit a report to the County Council and County Executive by September 30 each year after implementation of this Section for the prior fiscal year. The report should include:
(1) the dollar value of services purchased from a certified Small Business With Health Insurance;
(2) the dollar value of services purchased from a business that is not a certified Small Business With Health Insurance;
(3) to the extent ascertainable, the additional cost of any contracts awarded to a certified Small Business With Health Insurance under a percentage price preference;
(4) a summary of applications for certification as a Small Business With Health Insurance made during the year, including the results of each application;
(5) a list of certified Small Businesses With Health Insurance;
(6) suggested legislative or administrative changes; and
(7) any other relevant information. (2015 L.M.C., ch. 43, § 1.)
Editor’s note—2015 L.M.C., ch. 43 , § 2, states, in part: “...and applies to any solicitation issued on or after July 1, 2016.”