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Hogan creates office in response to paid sick leave

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Gov. Larry Hogan wants to create a office to help businesses deal with the impact of the state’s new paid sick leave law. (File Photo)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is creating a state office to assist small businesses in response to legislation mandating paid sick leave for workers.

The General Assembly last week passed the legislation, overriding Hogan’s veto. The law applies to all business in Maryland with more than 15 employees, allowing workers to earn up to five paid sick days a year.

Hogan, a Republican, responded Monday by issuing an executive order creating the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance. Under the state Constitution, the legislature has 50 days to consent or pass a resolution of disapproval.

Hogan said he wants the office to help small businesses cope with the law’s impact. Hogan had urged lawmakers to support an alternative that would have applied to businesses with 25 or more workers and would have been phased in by 2020.

The order reorganizes state government to create the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance, directs the Governor’s Business Ombudsman Randall Nixon to serve as executive director, and moves employees from the Office of Small Business Resources to staff the new office. It will be housed and report directly to Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly Schulz, whose agency is developing rules for the law.

The new office will assist businesses with the implementation of the sick leave law, facilitate responsiveness of state government to small business needs, and serve as a clearinghouse of information for business assistance programs and services available in the state, Hogan’s statement said. The office will report to the governor and the legislature on problems encountered by small businesses complying with the law and will recommend policy improvements and solutions.

Democratic legislative leaders say they are considering a 90-day delay in the implementation of the law, which otherwise goes into effect 30 days after enactment.