Businesses with fewer than 50 employees who offer paid leave could gain a $20k tax incentive.
Paid sick leave is back again. Although the measure failed to pass by the end of last session—thanks in large part to pressure from NFIB and other business groups—the issue has resurfaced for the 2017 session, which convened on Jan. 11.
The first move came from Gov. Larry Hogan, who announced in early December that he plans to propose a “common-sense” paid sick leave measure this session. His plan would require businesses employing 50 or more workers to offer paid sick leave of at least 40 hours per year, and employees would be able to roll over no more than 40 hours of paid leave annually. There would also be tax incentives—an exemption of the first $20,000 of their income—offered to businesses who employ fewer than 50 employees and still offer paid sick leave. Part-time employees would be covered after at least 30 working hours, but seasonal employees who work for fewer than 120 days in a 12-month period would be exempt.
Gov. Hogan’s plan is significantly scaled back from the one that made its way through the Legislature in 2016, which would have required all businesses with 10 or more employees to provide seven days of paid leave per year. As a result, advocates of the previous plan may not support Hogan’s scaled-back version. However, NFIB/MD State Director Mike O’Halloran told WBAL that Gov. Hogan’s efforts to address the business community’s concerns were appreciated. While NFIB/MD members still feel strongly that the decision about paid leave policies should remain with the employer and employees, Gov. Hogan’s proposal at least provides necessary protections for small businesses.
Other than paid sick leave, top legislative issues for 2017 include dealing with the state’s $544 million budget shortfall and deciding whether to extend a moratorium on fracking or ban it.