Workers at companies with 15 or more employees in Maryland moved a step closer to earning paid sick leave on Thursday when a bill was approved by a state legislative committee.
The House Economic Matters Committee voted 14-9 to advance the measure, which provides a minimum of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of seven full days per year for full-time workers.
“I’m happy to get this bill moving,” Del. Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), the bill’s sponsor, said. “Hopefully we’ll get a bill out of the Senate and moving our way.”
Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), the committee chairman, said the bill is scheduled to be taken up by the full House next week. The Senate version of the bill is expected to voted on in committee next week.
The bill passed in the House committee on Thursday is similar to the measure that was approved by the full House last year but did not advance in the Senate.
Clippinger said he is optimistic about the bill’s passage this year, noting that Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is working hard on the measure and it appears to be “making substantive movement.” Twenty-four out of 47 senators are signed on as bill sponsors.
The House committee amended the sick-leave measure on Thursday at the request of companies that employ aides to the developmentally disabled. The change specified that employees who work only a few hours a week would not be covered under the bill, Clippinger said.
Republicans who voted against the bill argued that it would hurt small businesses. Del. Warren E. Miller (R-Howard) suggested that the measure should include a tax credit option, an “innovative” proposal that is part of a separate sick leave bill proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
The governor’s legislation would require companies with at least 50 employees to provide five days a year of paid sick leave. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be eligible for a tax break if they offer paid sick leave. Opponents of Hogan’s bill say it would not provide coverage to enough people.