ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Senate voted Friday to override Larry Hogan’s veto last year of a bill approving paid sick leave for workers in the state.
The 30-17 vote in the Senate chamber, which came a day after the House also voted to override Hogan’s veto, will require employers with 15 or more employees to offer workers five sick days.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Maryland became the ninth state in the nation to approve paid sick leave legislation.
Locally, D.C. and Montgomery County also passed sick leave laws.
Delegate Luke Clippinger of Baltimore, who’s credited with spearheading the effort for sick leave, said the law was six years in the making and was a joint effort between lawmakers, employers and nonprofit organizations, among others.
“It’s an extraordinary accomplishment. I’m thrilled to have been a part of and thrilled to have helped in some way,” said Clippinger, who sat upstairs in the Senate chamber to watch senators vote down Hogan’s veto. “This is an issue [for which] 700,000 Marylanders have waited for half a decade. There are parents who have kids that are sick. They are ready [for sick leave].”
All eight senators from Prince George’s County voted in favor of the legislation, which will allow an employee to earn an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work. The Senate needed 29 votes to void Hogan’s veto.
“Paid sick leave is something that is human — it’s morally right,” said Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-District 26) of Accokeek. “For us to say if you’re sick, you have to give first priority to whether or not you are going to get paid — that is not right. It is a historic day and a step in the right direction.”
Senate Republicans such as Stephen Hershey Jr., who represents portions of four counties in Western Maryland, said small-business owners and workers he heard from in committee meetings requested higher wages and health benefits toward future retirement.
“It is an overly prescriptive policy that forces job creators to do something,” he said. “Paid sick leave was not high on the list of what employees wanted.”
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the legislature will hold a hearing on Hogan’s “compromise” paid sick leave bill during the session. Hogan’s version, released in November, would allow businesses to offer paid sick leave in increments for those with 50 or more employees this year, 40 or more employees in 2019 and 25 or more employees in 2020.
“I hope the governor comes down and talks about his own bill,” said Miller, who represents portions of Prince George’s and Calvert counties.
Friday’s approved bill may not go into effect for 90 days, which Miller said would give time for businesses to set up while the regulations are being processed into law.
Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chassé issued a statement afterward urging lawmakers to consider the governor’s bill, or least approve legislation for certain small businesses to receive tax credit.
“Now that this political posturing is over, it’s time for the legislature to get down to the business of fixing the serious flaws in this bill that Senator [Thomas] Middleton and numerous others openly acknowledged today,” she said. “We urge legislators to fast track the governor’s Small Business Relief Tax Credit to ensure employers aren’t forced to close their doors and lay off their employees. 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.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous praised lawmakers for overriding the governor’s veto.
“Providing paid sick leave to Marylanders is just plain common sense and Governor Hogan was wrong to veto this bill the first time,” Jealous said. “Our economy works best when we invest in our people and that starts with investing in their health. Maryland’s working families are stronger because of this bill. Come November, they will remember who had their backs while the governor played politics.”