Legislation Delaying Sick Leave Implementation to Hit Senate Floor Monday
By William F. Zorzi
Emergency legislation pushing back the effective date of Maryland’s sick-leave legislation to July 1, as amended in committee Friday, is scheduled before the full Senate at its Monday night session.
The bill, which requires employers to pay sick leave earned by nearly 700,000 workers in the state, was vetoed by the governor last year and then overridden by the General Assembly last month as one of its first orders of business. Under the bill as overridden, the effective date for the state to begin enforcement is Feb. 11 — 30 days after the Jan. 12 override date.
At the time of the vote, there was concern voiced that 30 days would not give businesses a sufficient amount of time to implement the plan, prompting talk of extending the effective date, including by Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton, a Charles County Democrat who as chairman of the Finance Committee was instrumental in revising the sick-leave bill last year.
After the override last month, Middleton introduced legislation that would change the effective date for the measure 60 days after Feb. 11 – to April 12.
But when that proposal was sent to Finance for consideration, senators heard from business owners and others that they needed still more time to gear up for the requirements of the legislation. In response, the Finance Committee further amended Middleton’s bill to push the effective date for enforcing the legislation another 2-1/2 months, until July 1.
During debate prior to the override, supporters pointed out that had Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) not vetoed the bill last spring, the legislation would have been effective Jan. 1, giving affected businesses and the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation months to implement the law.
While passage of the bill extending the effective date till July 1 is expected to pass the Senate, it is unclear if the House of Delegates has the will to again take up the contentious sick-leave bill this session — even if it is merely an extension of the effective date.
Middleton’s bill was introduced as an emergency measure, requiring approval of three-fifths of the members of each house – a so-called “supermajority” — 29 of the 47 senators and 85 of the 141 delegates.
The Hogan administration Friday again issued a statement calling the overall sick-leave legislation “burdensome” and urging lawmakers to vote for the governor’s “Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018” and “Small Business Relief Tax Credit,” now pending in the General Assembly.