On November 28th, Governor Hogan decided, with much pomp and circumstance, that he would finally re-engage in the sick leave debate – long after a majority of the Maryland General Assembly had already committed to overriding the Governor's veto when they return in January. While the work was being done during the last legislative session, Hogan wanted no part of the conversation and had nothing to offer to the many voices doing the difficult job of crafting meaningful legislation that would change lives. Leadership elevates the discourse, but Hogan clearly missed the memo. He couldn’t even show up.
The legislature gave a great deal of thought for years, used extensive research, and already compromised to craft a bill that could have wide-ranging support. For years, this work was taking place in Annapolis and around the state and Hogan seemed unaware that it was an emergency in the past. Only after the work was done did Hogan desire to get involved. A little late?
During this process, Governor Hogan never picked up the phone, never sat down at the table to negotiate, and never testified in front of a legislative committee. Instead of waiting until days after Thanksgiving to enter the game, many have wondered why Hogan was not a part of the effort during the 90-day session in Annapolis to work on the bill that was eventually passed. Government House is next door to State House. That is what a Governor is supposed to do, right? Lead? Democrats made paid sick leave HB1, signaling that is was their top priority. Rather than engage, Hogan refused to enter the discussion.
Hogan’s so-called compromise legislation would phase-in paid sick leave for companies with 25 or more employees until 2020. The Healthy Working Families Act made its way through the legislature with the input from advocates and business would require coverage for businesses with 15 or more employees, next year. It is clear from looking at both proposals that Hogan’s bill is less comprehensive and less generous when it comes to providing for families that need help the most.
A poll earlier this year from the Washington Post-University of Maryland clearly shows that once again Hogan finds himself on the wrong side of helping Maryland families. An overwhelming number of Marylanders support paid sick leave for Maryland. Eighty-four percent of those polled approved of requiring benefits for businesses with at 15 workers. Hogan’s legislation only begins to deal with employers with 25 or more employees, leaving in the dark the numerous people who work for companies that fall beneath Hogan’s threshold – but are covered by the legislation that passed in the Maryland General Assembly.
Many have been shocked by Hogan’s approach to paid sick leave, as he himself needed time to take care of himself when he faced his own sickness. Hogan said that there was still time to fix the legislation that passed through the House 87-53 and the Senate 29-18. Leaders in both the House and the Senate have said that they would have welcomed Hogan’s enthusiastic participation in the debate during the last two sessions in the Annapolis but the Governor has been MIA.
Delegate Luke Clippinger, the lead sponsor of the paid sick leave legislation that made it through both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly last spring, made his position clear: “We’re going to override the governor’s veto. We’re on the right side of this issue. This has been an emergency for 700,000 Marylanders who are covered by this bill for years. The fact that he’s only realizing that now is an absolute shame.”
The time for waiting, showmanship, and games is up. 700,000 Marylanders should not have to wait any longer for access to paid sick leave because Gov. Hogan wants to play politics with their ability to take care of themselves and their families. We agree on one thing Governor Hogan, Marylanders deserve better.