Maryland Lawmakers Override Gov. Hogan’s Veto to Enact Paid Sick Leave Law

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Photo via Sen. Bill Ferguson/Instagram

Thirty Maryland senators today overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 veto of a sick-leave bill, requiring employers across Maryland to give hundreds of thousands of workers paid time off for medical reasons.

The Senate voted 30-17 to overturn Hogan’s decision to scrap the bill last year, which means the bill will become law within 30 days. The measure, proposed by Baltimore Del. Luke Clippinger in the House of Delegates and a coalition of lawmakers in the Senate, requires firms with 15 or more employees to give full-timers five days of paid sick leave annually, and businesses with 14 or fewer employees to let employees accrue unpaid sick leave.

The House voted 88-52 to override Hogan’s veto on Thursday.

Clippinger, who represents Baltimore’s 46th District, was still in session and unavailable to comment immediately Friday afternoon. He told Baltimore Fishbowl two months ago he was “confident” the Senate would override Hogan’s decision with the necessary 29 votes.

“It’s a bill that 700,000 Marylanders have been waiting for now for almost six years,” he said.

Hogan and Republican lawmakers had argued the bill’s worker benefits are too steep for small businesses to afford. The governor deemed it a “terrible bill,” “deeply flawed” and “unfair,” earlier this year, saying it would “kill small businesses.” He also said it could potentially allow employers to invade workers’ privacy, since a provision lets businesses ask employees who take off for more than two straight days to verify why they needed time off.

Hogan had instead introduced an emergency “compromise proposal” to iron out differences between his 2016 bill and the one he vetoed. His measure would have required firms with 25 or more employees to offer paid leave to all, and would have been phased in over several years for businesses of different sizes. It also offered a “significant financial hardship” waiver for small firms to be exempted from the requirement.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement that legislators must now “get down to the business of fixing the serious flaws in this bill that Senator Middleton [one of the co-sponsors, and chair of the Senate Finance Committee] and numerous others openly acknowledged today” before the vote.

Hogan has proposed a so-called Small Business Relief Tax Credit, Chasse said. “Instead of frantically trying to buy time by pushing off the effective date of their bill, legislators should come to the table and pass the governor’s compromise solution to protect workers and job creators.”

The new law takes effect Feb. 11.

This story has been updated with comment from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.

Ethan McLeod
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