Md. Legislature Overrides Two of Gov. Hogan's Vetoes

ANNAPOLIS (January 12, 2018)—The Maryland Senate on Friday, following the state House one day earlier, overrode two vetoes by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, including one that would require some businesses to provide paid sick leave for employees.

Under the new paid sick leave law, any business with 15 or more full-time employees will be required to give workers at least five days of earned sick and safe leave and is expected to extend to more than 500,000 Marylanders.

The law, which took about five years to pass, will pay the leave at the employee's regular wage, according to a state legislative summary.

Republicans argued that the legislation could hurt smaller businesses and deter hiring, especially among "opportunity employers,"—who take on less-skilled or riskier hires—said Sen. Robert Cassilly, R-Harford and Cecil.

In the Senate, the override passed largely along party lines, 30-17.

Democrats, who hold the majority in both the Maryland House and the Senate, sponsored both pieces of legislation, which Hogan had vetoed last spring.

The Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday also overrode the same two vetoes by Hogan—paid sick leave and the Maryland Fair Access to Education Act of 2017, also known as "Ban the Box."

This law will prohibit colleges and universities in Maryland from requesting information about the criminal history of applicants on initial admissions forms. Schools could still consider an applicant's criminal history later in the admission process.

Overrides of that legislation passed 90-50 in the House on Thursday, and 32-15 in the Senate on Friday.

The votes in both chambers were largely along party lines, during a General Assembly session expected to be influenced by national and state politics.

The sick-leave legislation passed 88-52 in the House.

"We have to hear the cries of people like me…," Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, said on the House floor Thursday, referring to a period in her life when she experienced domestic violence.

Senate Minority Whip Stephen Hershey, R-Kent, Queen Anne's, Cecil and Caroline, has a small business with 14 employees. This bill, he said, would make him think twice before hiring a 15th because he would have to provide paid sick leave for all of them.

Democrats, however, argued that paid sick leave was long overdue and that they owed it to their constituencies to act.

Hogan supports paid sick leave, but said in a statement the Democrats' bill would penalize small businesses.

On Wednesday, Hogan introduced a "compromise" bill that would start with larger businesses and eventually apply to companies with 25 or more employees, phasing in by the year 2020. It also would not require an explanation for the absence.

House Republicans said the Democrats' measure, which would require employees to disclose the reason for an absence of more than two consecutive days, would violate privacy.

Hogan is running for reelection, and a number of Democrats have announced they are running in the primary to challenge him. Maryland lawmakers are also bracing for changes at the federal level, under the administration of President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress.

The sick-leave measure is expected to take effect in 30 days.

Katherine Brzozowski contributed to this report.

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