Despite his controversial veto just six months ago, Gov. Larry Hogan still has paid sick leave on his mind.
Maryland’s Republican governor announced today that he plans to introduce a “compromise proposal” in January that would require small businesses in Maryland to offer paid leave to employees. He said the bill would iron out differences between his bill from this year’s legislative session and the one that the General Assembly passed, which he then vetoed in May.
Hogan’s emergency bill, which he plans to introduce on the first day of the 2018 legislative session, would require businesses with 25 or more employees to offer paid leave to all employees. It would be phased in over several years to try to lessen the economic blow to the smallest of small businesses, he said. Firms with 50 or more employees would have to comply in 2018; those with 40 or more would have to comply in 2019; all others with 25 or more employees would have to begin offering them leave in 2020.
Employees would accrue an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. The bill also offers an option for small firms to claim a “significant financial hardship” for a waiver from the requirement, using language originally introduced by Baltimore County Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Hogan said.
The governor spent the first two-thirds of a press conference laying into the bill that Democrats moved through both houses in Annapolis last year. He called it a “terrible bill,” “deeply flawed,“ “confused” and “unfair,” and said it would be “disastrous” and “kill small businesses.”
The measure that did pass, sponsored by Baltimore City Del. Luke Clippinger, D-46th District, would have required businesses with 15 or more employees to give seven days of paid sick leave per year to full-timers, and required those with 14 or fewer employees to give out unpaid sick leave.
Hogan had drawn the line at 50 employees. His bill granted unspecified sick leave time to all, and promised tax credits to firms with 14 or fewer employees that did offer leave to their employees. He said the mark approved by the legislature would have been too costly for mom-and-pop operations and other small firms.
Hogan returned to his tax-credit approach, announcing an accompanying plan to offer $100 million over five years in credits to businesses with fewer than 50 employees that provide paid leave to their employees.
“We preferred a carrot rather than a stick approach – rewarding, rather than punishing, small businesses,” Hogan said.
Clippinger said on a phone call today that he and his Democratic colleagues in the General Assembly will proceed with a planned override of Hogan’s veto in January, rather than take up his suggested replacement bill.
“We already have the votes in the House, and I feel confident we’ll the votes in the Senate,” the South Baltimore-based lawmaker said. Clippinger’s bill passed by veto-proof margins in both houses, and could be enacted with an override, assuming none of the 29 Democratic senators who voted for the measure defect.
Clippinger also criticized the governor’s phrasing – the word “compromise,” specifically – for his emergency bill.
“A compromise requires actually talking to the other side and engaging them, and I haven’t received a call from the governor in three years, almost four years, on this legislation,” he said. “We already have a good bill. It’s already a compromise bill. It’s a bill that 700,000 Marylanders have been waiting for now for almost six years.”
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