- Associated Press - Thursday, May 25, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A bill that would require Maryland businesses with 15 or more employees to provide five days of paid sick leave was halted at the desk of Republican Gov. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who vetoed it on Thursday saying it was “simply very bad policy” and would kill small businesses. Democrats said a veto override will be a priority next year.

Hogan, who proposed his own paid sick leave bill that did not advance in the Democrat-led legislature, emphasized he could still support a “common-sense” proposal, and he urged Democrats to work with him to get a bill passed early next year.

“If we allowed this legislation to go into effect next January, it would be disastrous to our state economy, and it would make Maryland less competitive in our region,” Hogan said at a news conference. “It would kill small businesses and jeopardize thousands of Maryland jobs.”

The General Assembly passed the bill with enough votes to override the veto next year, if everyone who voted for it supports a veto override. The Senate passed the bill with 29 votes, the minimum three-fifths needed to override a veto. House Speaker Michael Busch said a veto override will be a priority in January.

“We carefully balanced the impact on small businesses by specifically exempting businesses with less than 15 employees from the legislation,” Busch, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, said in a statement. “This was House Bill 1 because it is a priority for the General Assembly and it will be a priority override in January.”

Hogan said he would lead by example by signing three executive orders Thursday. One will create a task force to study the implications of paid sick leave across the state. A second will provide paid sick leave benefits to all of the state’s contractual employees in the executive branch, more than 8,000 employees. A third will authorize all Maryland procurement authorities to begin a preference for contractors who offer paid sick leave to employees.

Hogan’s proposal, which he outlined in December, would have required companies with more than 50 employees to provide paid sick leave and encouraged small businesses to offer paid sick leave by providing tax incentives to offset those benefits. The governor said he preferred that, because it had the potential to cover 100 percent of Maryland’s workforce.

“The governor truly believes that this benefit should be available to all hardworking Marylanders,” said Sen. Stephen Hershey, an Upper Shore Republican who is the Senate minority leader.

But Del. Luke Clippinger, a Baltimore Democrat who was the bill sponsor, scoffed at the governor’s executive orders and his overture to keep working on a compromise. Clippinger said he has never received a call from the governor or any of his staff since Hogan entered office in 2015.

“He just vetoed sick leave for 700,000 Marylanders who are trying to work their way out of poverty and improve their and their families’ quality of life,” Clippinger said. “That’s what he did. The rest is window dressing and lipstick on a pig.”

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