Judge Strikes Down State Law Aimed at Wal-Mart

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A federal judge has overturned a Maryland law that would have required Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health care. The state law would have required non-governmental employers with 10,000 or more workers to spend at least 8 percent of payroll on health care or pay the difference in taxes.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Our business news starts with a victory for Wal-Mart.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Wal-Mart has, for the moment, turned back an effort to make it spend more on employee health insurance. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

FRANK LANGFITT reporting:

Last year, the Maryland state legislature passed a law that would have forced Wal-Mart to spent at least eight percent of its payroll on healthcare.

Proponents argued that the company didn't provide enough coverage for workers, leaving the state to pay the difference. But a federal judge in Baltimore has struck down the one-of-a-kind legislation. He said the measure violates a federal law that protects companies from having to create a patchwork of healthcare plans from state to state.

Steven Cannon managed the case on Wal-Mart's behalf.

Mr. STEVE CANNON (Attorney): What the judge did today was say an employer who may have employees in many, many states only has to worry about one healthcare plan.

LANGFITT: The Maryland Attorney General's Office says it will appeal the ruling.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News.

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