Maryland General Assembly Approves Paid Sick Leave - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland General Assembly Approves Paid Sick Leave

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(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- A measure requiring businesses with 15 or more employees to provide five paid sick days cleared the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday, sending the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan, who has described it as "job-killing" legislation he intends to veto.
    
The House of Delegates voted 87-53 to agree with changes made by the Senate in a bill that affects hundreds of thousands of state residents. That's two more votes than needed in the House to override a veto. The Senate passed the bill with 29 votes, the minimum needed for a veto override.
    
Del. Dereck Davis, who chairs the House Economic Matters Committee, said he often hears his colleagues ask him for consideration when they are sick: whether it's to change the schedule of a bill hearing or request  time to care for a sick child or parent.
    
"We cannot in good conscience, in my opinion, take advantage of something that we're unwilling to do for our fellow citizens," said Davis, a Prince George's County Democrat.
    
But Del. Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said the bill will hurt small businesses.
    
"We just believe that this bill goes too far, and the unintended consequences of the bill may be very detrimental to our ability to be economically viable as a business environment, and unfortunately we believe some businesses may end up not being able to survive," said Kipke, the House minority leader.
    
Hogan, a Republican, proposed an alternative bill of his own that would have required paid sick leave with businesses that have 50 or more employees. It would provide tax incentives to smaller businesses that provide leave, but the Democrat-controlled legislature backed legislation they believe goes further than the governor's plan. Last month, Hogan threatened a veto, describing the measures supported by Democrats as "dead on arrival."
    
Supporters have tried to pass a bill for five years. The measure was a bit scaled down in the Senate, which shaved the total amount of earned paid sick days from seven to five. Employees would earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The bill increased a probationary period during which an employee can accrue but not use their sick days from 90 to 106 days. The threshold for hours worked to qualify for paid sick leave was increased from eight hours to 12 hours per week on average. Also, additional provisions were added to protect businesses in the event an employee exhibits a pattern of abusing leave.
    
Supporters say there are more than 750,000 Maryland residents who do not have access to a single paid sick day.
    
"Today, Marylanders are facing impossible choices between things like sending a child to school sick or missing the paycheck they need to pay the grocery bill that week - all because they don't have a single paid sick day," said Liz Richards, director of the Working Matters Coalition.

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