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Hogan comments on parental leave draw sharp rebuke from Jealous

(Bryan P. Sears/The Daily Record)

(Bryan P. Sears/The Daily Record)

Gov. Larry Hogan called for small businesses in Maryland to follow the lead of the state in enacting expanded parental leave.

Hogan, speaking at a regional cabinet meeting in Olney, said he hopes a new 60-day benefit for state employees — which his budget secretary initially opposed — coupled with proposed tax incentives will encourage small businesses to follow suit. The announcement was quickly criticized by Ben Jealous, Hogan’s Democratic opponent for governor, who called it “hypocrisy.”

Hogan said the state is “making it more affordable and offering greater support for new parents and working families.”

But Hogan’s administration initially opposed the law, proposed in Senate Bill 859, sponsored by Sen. William “Bill” Ferguson.

In a Feb. 15 letter, the Department of Budget and Management opposed the proposal, saying current state and federal parental leave policies and laws were sufficient.

Under the new law, state employees who have a baby or adopt a child under 6 years old will be eligible for 60 days of leave. The paid leave kicks in once an employee has used her or his annual and personal leave. The extended leave benefit can be used anytime within the first six months of the birth or adoption.

The General Assembly passed the bill by veto-proof majorities. It was signed by the governor in May.

The program for state employees begins Oct. 1.

Jealous was quick to criticize Hogan for his opposition of the new law.

“Today’s announcement is sadly the latest example of misleading hypocrisy from a governor who has failed to deliver progress for working families,” said Jealous. “I want to thank the Democratic legislators in the General Assembly who, despite Larry Hogan’s opposition, passed this law to require his administration to expand parental leave for our state workers.”

Hogan, speaking Tuesday, praised the plan and said it will give parents flexibility in their schedules.

“Being a new parent isn’t just about being home for the first six weeks following your child’s birth,” said Hogan. “It’s also the doctor’s appointments, the check-ups, the other important needs in your child’s early stages of life.”

Hogan said he hopes small businesses will follow the lead of state government.

Hogan said he will introduce legislation in January to expand a tax credit for small businesses who offer paid parental leave. The bill would expand a 2018 law providing incentives for small businesses that provide paid sick leave.



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