ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland lawmakers are getting close to requiring paid sick leave at many businesses after the House of Delegates voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto.
The bill faces a tough vote in the Senate, which would have to agree to override the veto for it to become law.
The Democrat-controlled House voted 88-52. The chamber needed 85, or a three-fifths vote, to override the Republican governor’s veto.
Supporters said the measure has been debated for six years, and it includes dozens of compromises made after listening to concerns of businesses.
“It’s time because it reflects our values as Marylanders,” said Del. Luke Clippinger, a Baltimore Democrat who sponsored the bill, noting it would affect an estimated 700,000 Maryland residents. “It reflects our belief that no one should have to choose between their health and their livelihood.”
Opponents said the measure will hurt small businesses. They also contended the bill threatens privacy for domestic violence victims by requiring them to disclose why they were absent from work, a claim supporters denied. Republicans expressed support for an alternative measure proposed by the governor, who says the Democrat-sponsored measure will kill jobs.
“I believe that there was a better way to go about this law without violating privacy, taking into account of the needs of Maryland small employers, and I think there is a way to extend this benefit to more people,” said Del. Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican who is the House minority leader.
The measure faces a tighter vote in the Senate, where 29 of 47 members would need to support it to override Hogan’s veto. The bill passed the Senate last year with 29 votes, the minimum needed. If the Senate votes to override the veto, the measure would take effect in 30 days.
The bill would require businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to five days of earned paid sick leave. Hogan has urged lawmakers to support an alternative bill that would phase in paid sick leave for businesses with 25 or more employees by 2020.
Lisa Klingenmaier, assistant director of advocacy at Catholic Charities in Baltimore, said during a rally in front of the statehouse before the House vote that she was optimistic the measure will finally be enacted after years of trying.
“It’s monumentally important,” Klingenmaier said. “We work with a lot of folks experiencing homelessness at Catholic Charities, and so many of their stories start with, ‘I got sick. My kids got sick. I lost my housing, and now I’m homeless,’ and so I think we can make a real tangible difference in the lives of low-income Marylanders by passing this bill.”
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