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State Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore City. (File photo)

Session over for paid sick days

Leaders in the House and Senate want supporters and opponents of a bill that would mandate paid sick leave for workers in Maryland to hammer out their differences over the summer.

Both sides of the proposed legislation were notified in a letter Friday from House and Senate leaders that House Bill 385 and Senate Bill 40, which are identical, would not move forward.

“Our committees recognize the complex nature of this legislation and the potential impact that it may have, if enacted, on the state’s businesses and workforce,” wrote House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck C. Davis, D-Prince George’s County, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton, D-Charles County. “Therefore, we strongly urge you and your respective stakeholders to come together during the interim to provide interested parties with a forum for sharing specific input and offering language to address the concerns with the bill as drafted.”

This is the third time in as many years that the bill has failed to pass in the legislature.

“It’s time for lawmakers to acknowledge the realities of today’s working families and pass this critical legislation,” Melissa Broome, acting director for the Job Opportunities Task Force said in a statement. “Maryland workers, especially working parents, are struggling and cannot wait any longer for the economic security paid sick days provide.”

Under the bill, businesses with 10 or more employees would be required to offer paid sick leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 worked. The leave would begin accruing immediately when an employee is hired and the employee would be eligible to take the leave after 90 days of employment.

For businesses with less than 10 employees — a category that Broome says covers about 70 percent of employers in the state — workers would be eligible to accrue unpaid sick leave.

The bill was opposed by a number of business groups including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters hoped this year would be the charm for the bill after President Barack Obama threw his support behind the effort nationally during his State of the Union Speech earlier this year. Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore City and sponsor of the bill in the state legislature, was invited to attend the speech as a guest of the president.

Pugh told business leaders in February that she believed she had the votes to pass the bill this year.

Davis and Middleton, in their letter, said they would give both sides an opportunity this summer to report back to both committees on the progress of negotiations.