Maryland senate to debate delaying law on paid sick leave


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) - The Maryland Senate is considering emergency legislation to delay the implementation of a paid sick leave bill enacted last year by the General Assembly.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the measure last year, arguing it would be unfair to small businesses.

In January, the General Assembly voted to override the governor's veto, and the bill is scheduled to take effect this Sunday.

Under pressure from the business community, the Senate plans a debate Wednesday on a separate bill to delay implementation of the sick leave law until July 1.

Stephen S. Hershey, Jr., a Republican who represents the Eastern Shore, supports the delay, arguing that businesses are still confused about how to properly implement the measure.

"I don't think anybody in this [Senate] chamber can effectively answer a question - if an employee calls up on Monday and asks, 'Am I getting paid sick leave or not?' It's just too complicated," he said.

Baltimore City Sen. Joan Carter Conway plans to offer an amendment Wednesday which would allow employees to begin accruing sick leave on February 11 but not be able to use sick days until July 1.

The law would allow hundreds of thousands of employees to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Del. Luke Clippinger, a Democrat who represents Baltimore City, says the issue has been debated for six years and it is time for the law to be implemented this weekend.

"We believe there's going to be time for business to still to enact those policies and get ready to go," said Clippinger, who was the lead sponsor of the bill.

Ron George, who owns Ron George Jewelers on Main Street in Annapolis, opposes the sick leave bill enacted last year by the General Assembly.

"I don't think it's fair to small businesses, and what it means [is], we're paying more for the people we have working in the store, and we have to hire other people to fill in," he said.

George, who is a former state delegate, says if the paid sick leave law cannot be blocked, he would favor delaying its implementation until July 1.

"There's not a one-size-fits-all. If you have people work in the service industry or people who get paid tips, it takes a while to figure all this out," said George.

Supporters estimate the new law would extend paid sick leave benefits to around 700,000 Maryland workers.

Sen. Thomas Middleton, who sponsored the bill to delay implementing the paid sick leave bill until July 1, admits that his bill may not survive in the House of Delegates, where a majority of legislators voted for the original bill last year.

If the bill currently being debated in the Senate fails to pass the General Assembly before this weekend, the original paid sick leave bill would officially take effect this Sunday.

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