In Focus: Maryland Governor Vetoes Paid-Sick-Leave Bill

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on May 25 that he is vetoing a paid-sick-leave bill that would have required businesses with 15 or more employees to provide workers with up to five days of paid sick leave each year. The Democrat-controlled state legislature had passed the bill in April, but the Republican governor said the bill would harm the state's economy.

Such measures have been hotly debated in cities and states across the country, and HR professionals often find themselves struggling to comply with a hodgepodge of different—and sometimes conflicting—laws.

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Develop and Administer Paid Leave Programs]

Governor Calls Bill 'Bad Policy'

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act would have provided about 700,000 Marylanders with paid-sick-leave benefits, according to Democratic lawmakers who supported the bill. But Hogan said the measure was "simply very bad policy" and would be "disastrous" for the state's economy by making Maryland less competitive than other states in the region. Hogan had proposed his own bill that would have required employers with 50 or more workers to offer paid sick leave and would have provided tax incentives to smaller businesses that chose to offer such benefits. However, Hogan's measure didn't advance through the legislature.

(U.S. News & World Report)

Hogan Signs Related Executive Orders

Hogan says he would support a "common sense" paid-sick-leave proposal. He also announced that he is signing three executive orders related to paid sick leave. One would create a taskforce to further study the impact that paid leave would have on small businesses in the state. The second executive order would provide paid sick leave to about 8,000 contract employees that work for the state's executive branch and the third would create a preference for state contractors that offer such leave.

(WBAL Radio)

Business Groups Applaud Governor's Decision

Business groups, such as the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, opposed the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. The groups say bills like this increase operating costs and create undue administrative burdens for employers. The state Chamber of Commerce said it supports Hogan's efforts to come up with a solution that works for businesses. Although Hogan vetoed this bill, he said he will continue to seek a bipartisan compromise on paid sick leave. "This is not a decision being made lightly," Hogan said. "I am vetoing it because it is the right course of action for the state's economy. This is not the end of the discussion, rather it's the beginning of the discussion to get this right."

(Baltimore Business Journal)

Worker Advocates Respond to Veto

Democratic lawmakers and employee advocates have vowed to continue pushing for paid sick leave. Del. Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, said the issue will be a priority for state legislators in January 2018. Liz Richards, the director of employee-advocate group the Working Matters Coalition, said the governor's decision hurts parents and children. "Instead of being able to take the time they need to care for their families, these Marylanders will continue to be forced to make decisions like taking off work to visit their sick child in the hospital or paying the rent that month," she said in a press statement.
(The Washington Post)

Democrats Could Override Veto

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act passed both chambers of the state legislature by veto-proof margins, so Democratic legislators could still override the governor's veto. But the bill only had the minimum number of Senate votes needed for an override, and Hogan said he would work to convince legislators who voted in favor of the bill to oppose an override.

(The Baltimore Sun)

 

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