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Government & Politics

As Hogan Prepares to Act on Dozens of Bills, Union Presses for Paid Family Leave, Other Measures

A view of the Maryland State House from the Miller Senate Office Building. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) is expected to decide Friday whether to veto dozens of bills or allow them to become law on Friday, including measures to expand abortion access, establish statewide family leave and create a wide-ranging state response to climate change.

Majorities in the General Assembly voted last week to send more than 30 bills to the governor’s desk early this legislative session, which will leave lawmakers enough time to override any vetoes issued Friday before the legislature adjourns Monday at midnight.

Because this is an election year, it is likely the only opportunity for lawmakers to override a veto.

On Thursday, supporters and members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3, the state’s largest employee union, gathered in Annapolis to press for passage of some of the bills.

The union is supportive of several of the pending bills, but sought to specifically advocated for four:

  • Senate Bill 275, the Time to Care Act of 2022, which would offer Marylanders 12 weeks of partially paid family leave each year to care for themselves or a loved one after a serious health issue and up to 24 weeks of paid leave for new parents who also face serious health issues.
  • House Bill 90, which would allow lawyers at the Office of the Public Defender to choose to enter into collective bargaining agreements with the state over their pay, benefits and working conditions. Under the bill, public defenders would also only be able to be disciplined or fired for cause.
  • House Bill 1080would require the state’s Medicaid program to provide medical care to pregnant immigrants and their babies.

The union also pressed for enactment of House Bill 54, which would require the state to fully fund future cost-of-living annual raises for employees at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. But that measure was not on a list of early-presented bills released by the governor’s office, so it is unclear whether he will be required to act on it by Friday.

Pia Morrison, president of the Service Employees International Union 500, pointed to a 2022 poll contracted by the Time to Care Maryland coalition, which found widespread support among Marylanders for paid family leave.

“Eight-eight percent of Marylanders support this legislation. Even more than three quarters — 77% — of registered Republicans support having the paid family and medical leave program that they can rely on,” Morrison said. “The extraordinary bipartisan support should move Larry Hogan to sign this legislation into law.”

But Republicans in the General Assembly pushed back against a paid leave insurance program because of its anticipated costs and worries that it may cause undue hardship for small businesses.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perez, who has been endorsed by AFSCME and attended Thursday’s event, said he’d seen paid leave programs work around the world.

“We are not the only country in the world that has small businesses. Every other country has small businesses and they thrive with [paid leave],” he said. “The time to pass The Time to Care Act is not now, it was years ago.”

If several of the bills under consideration are not somehow passed this legislative session, Perez vowed to pass the same measures within the first month of his administration if he’s elected.

Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City), who has attracted AFSCME’s support in her run for comptroller, said the governor should sign the bills to lift up those who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been through several of the hardest years of this country and this state has seen in generations,” Lierman said. “So if ever there was a time to act — to support our families, to support our workers — that time is now.”


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As Hogan Prepares to Act on Dozens of Bills, Union Presses for Paid Family Leave, Other Measures