The Maryland House of Delegates flexed its muscle Thursday, overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 veto of a measure mandating paid sick leave. The vote was 88-52, three votes more than backers of the measure needed.
The bill would require most businesses with 15 or more workers to give employees the right to earn paid sick days.
“No one should have to choose between their health and their livelihood,” said the measure’s lead sponsor, Del. Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore city), during floor debate.
Republicans were united in their opposition to the bill, saying it would harm small businesses. “We’re screwing the small businessman and the people who provide 90 percent of the jobs in this state,” said Del. Herbert H. McMillan (R-Anne Arundel).
Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, said the measure had been amended 30 times in past sessions to accommodate the concerns of the business community. “HB 1, it’s time to get it done,” he said.
GOP lawmakers urged their colleagues to support a compromise bill introduced Wednesday by the governor. Moments after the vote, Hogan denounced the veto override, telling Maryland Matters, “This is largely just about politics. This bill is very flawed. It’s going to have to be fixed. This is for them to have some fun.”
The state Senate will attempt a veto override on Friday. Backers believe they have the bare minimum – 29 votes. Senate Majority Leader Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s) told Maryland Matters, “We think we’re OK.”
The progressive group Maryland Working Matters Coalition has been advocating for paid sick leave in the state for six years. The group held a rally outside the State House moments before the House vote.
Ericka Farrell, a program analyst for the federal government, said she once lost a job because she had to care for a sick child. “I’ve been in a position where I had to choose between going to work and staying home with a sick child. It’s very stressful.”
Republican lawmakers complained the bill would require victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to have to inform their employer of their abuse.
“We don’t want to re-victimize the victim by forcing them to disclose to their employer the reason for their absence,” said Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick).
But Del. Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Montgomery) countered, saying, “You don’t need to provide all the details, just that you’re using sick leave appropriately.”