Maryland Paid Leave Battle Lines Drawn

Gov. Larry Hogan this week unveiled the Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018, saying it will be filed as emergency legislation and be ready on the first day of the legislative session starting in January. He vetoed HB1, the paid leave bill passed by the General Assembly, in May 2017.

A hot-button topic when the Maryland General Assembly begins its 2018 session on Jan. 10 will be paid leave. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, vetoed HB1, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, in May 2017, and on Nov. 28 he unveiled the outlines of a bill he said will be filed as emergency legislation and be ready on the first day of the upcoming legislative session. It will be called the Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018, and Hogan promised it will cure the problems of HB1, which he claimed would be ruinous for Maryland small businesses. But Democrats in the General Assembly, including House Speaker Mike Busch, have vowed to override Hogan's veto instead.

Hogan described HB1 as "confusing, unwieldy, and unfair" in his announcement of the proposed replacement and said it would have a disastrous impact on the state's economy and unintended consequences for Maryland workers. He included a reminder that he had introduced a measure to expand paid leave that the General Assembly did not consider.

"We need the legislative leaders across the aisle to finally come to the table and work with us on behalf of the people of Maryland," Hogan said.

The Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 would require businesses with 25 or more employees to offer paid leave to their employees by the year 2020. It would phase in the benefits, starting in 2018 for businesses with 50 or more employees, in 2019 for businesses with 40 or more, and to all applicable businesses in 2020. It would allow qualifying businesses that demonstrate a significant financial hardship to receive a temporary waiver from the Department of Labor and set up a system where all employees accrue an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

The governor also said he'll introduce the Small Business Relief Tax Credit, which would provide $100 million over five years in tax credits to businesses with fewer than 50 employees that provide paid leave benefits to employees.

Also on Nov. 28, a task force created by Hogan after his veto of HB1 issued its final report.

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