Updated: Maryland Lawmakers Talk Tax Cuts, Sick Pay on Last Day - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Maryland Lawmakers Talk Tax Cuts, Sick Pay on Last Day of Session

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Maryland Legislative Hall (Photo: WBOC) Maryland Legislative Hall (Photo: WBOC)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Maryland lawmakers headed into the last day of their legislative session on Monday with work remaining on tax cuts, paid sick days for employees of companies with at least 15 employees, police reform and an ignition-locking device requirements to stop drunken drivers.
    
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said he was hopeful the Democrat-controlled General Assembly will approve a modest tax-relief package. A bill passed by the Senate includes tax cuts to the state's four highest tax brackets as well as tax relief for low-income workers and a small cut for middle-income workers, while the House focuses relief on middle- and low-income workers. Hogan, a Republican, said he supports the Senate plan.
    
"I like across-the-board tax cuts and making sure everybody's taken care of, and I think that'll help the most with stimulating our economy," Hogan told reporters on Main Street after a steak-and-egg breakfast at Chick and Ruth's Delly.
    
Meanwhile, supporters of a measure requiring companies with at least 15 employees to allow their employees to earn up to seven paid sick days a year wore surgical masks and held signs in front of the statehouse Monday morning, hoping the measure would pass before the session ends at midnight. The bill has passed the House, but not the Senate.
    
Supporters of expanding the state's ignition interlock requirements for all drunken drivers are concerned the measure could get tangled up in a push to add punitive damages against drunk drivers. The House of Delegates hasn't moved forward with a separate bill to allow punitive damages against a defendant in a personal injury case with a blood-alcohol level of .15 or greater.
    
Lawmakers also will be working to pass a police reform bill. The measure is the product of months of work by a panel that was convened shortly after the Baltimore riots last year following the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured in a Baltimore Police Department van and later died. The bill not only changes policies on how police are disciplined, but also how police are trained and hired. A key difference in bills passed by the House and Senate relates to whether civilians would have voting powers on boards that review complaints against police.
    
"I'm hopeful that there will be meaningful reforms out of this session, and I'm hoping that it will continue. This is not a one-session project," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference with local officials in Annapolis.
    
Lawmakers also will have a far-reaching criminal justice reform bill come before them for a final vote. A panel of House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on the Justice Reinvestment Act on Saturday night.
    
The measure covers various criminal justice system issues including arrests, imprisonment, treatment options and matters of criminal record expungement. The overall goal is to save money by incarcerating nonviolent inmates less and investing savings in drug treatment. The measure eliminates mandatory-minimum sentences for nonviolent, mid- to lower-level drug dealers.

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