ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Chairmen of two legislative committees say efforts to raise the minimum wage have crowded out the bill that would require employers to offer paid sick leave.

Sen. Thomas Middleton, a Charles County Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Monday he doesn’t plan to bring the bill up for voting. He thinks it would overburden employers if it took effect at the same time as a wage increase.

“Moving a bill on the sick leave would just be too much right now,” he said.

Early in this session, he asked workers’ advocates which bill mattered to them more. They said he should prioritize minimum wage, he recalled.

But he still encouraged them to rally for the sick leave measure. He thinks the state should address the matter eventually.

“A lot of these issues, you don’t get them done the first year, the second year,” he said.

Del. Dereck Davis, chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, said he simply didn’t have time to address it. The minimum wage bill has dominated his committee’s schedule, and this will continue through most of the session’s remainder.

Del. John A. Olszewski Jr., D-Baltimore County, and Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore, filed bills that would have required employees to give at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capping the number at seven a year.

In general, businesses that give other forms of paid time off, such as vacation days, would be exempt. And businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be allowed to offer unpaid sick leave instead.

Maryland’s current law doesn’t require any kind of sick leave. However, Deriece Pate Bennett, vice president of government affairs for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, said the vast majority of employers already give some paid time off.

As for the minimum wage measure, Middleton said he won’t put it to a committee vote until it has a provision for raising the wages of social workers who help the developmentally disabled. He wants them to make an average of 35 percent more than minimum wage.

Right now they average less than $10 an hour, and pending bills would raise the general minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

Middleton said Monday he is still negotiating with the Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office. He plans to meet with O’Malley’s representatives again by Wednesday.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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