As you may have heard, the Maryland General Assembly has passed a bill that requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 5 days of paid sick leave and smaller employers to provide unpaid sick leave. The bill, known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, now heads to the Governor’s desk. Governor Hogan has promised to veto it and the lawmakers state that they will override the veto. But politics aside, what is the actual status of this bill?
There are a number of possible scenarios regarding this bill, which we will discuss in order of likelihood.
Most Likely: We expect that Governor Hogan will veto the bill after the 2017 General Assembly session ends on April 10. According to the Maryland Constitution, a veto override vote would then take place at the beginning of the next session in January 2018.
3/5 of the members of each house must vote to override the veto – in the Senate, this means 29 votes, and in the House of Delegates, 85 votes. The bill passed the Senate by exactly 29 votes, and the House by 88 votes. If both houses retain all the votes, they can override the veto; the loss of a single vote in the Senate, however, means that the veto would not be overridden and the bill will not become law.
But, assuming that the veto override vote is successful, the next question is when the law would become effective. The bill provides that it would become effective on January 1, 2018 – which clearly is not possible since the veto override vote would not take place until after that date. The Maryland Constitution provides that laws enacted by the General Assembly take effect on June 1 following the session, unless the law specifies a later date. So, unless the General Assembly takes some additional action to extend the effective date of the law, paid sick leave would take effect on June 1, 2018.
Less Likely: After Governor Hogan vetoes the bill, the General Assembly could call a special session to hold the veto override vote. If such a vote is held and is successful, the law would take effect on January 1, 2018, absent other action by the General Assembly. There does not appear to be any interest in calling a special session, however, particularly leading into an election year.
Even Less Likely: Although we expect the Governor to veto the bill after the session ends, it is possible that he could veto it prior to the end of session, in which case the General Assembly could hold the veto override vote immediately.
This option makes no sense, of course, if the Governor is truly against the bill. If the veto override vote is held now, it is likely that the same legislators who voted for the bill within the last few days are going to vote to override the veto. The law would then take effect on January 1, 2018. If the Governor waits to veto the bill until after the session, however, there is a chance that votes could change between now and January 2018 when the next session commences, as explained above.
Least Likely of All: Despite calling this bill “job-killing” and “dead on arrival” at his desk, the Governor could experience a sudden, extreme, and inexplicable change of heart and either (1) sign the bill or (2) not take any action either to sign or veto the bill, in which case it automatically becomes law 30 days after being presented to him, and will take effect on January 1, 2018.
What Does This Mean for Maryland Employers? At this point, employers should wait to see what will happen to the bill – which in all likelihood will not be resolved until next January. If and when the bill becomes law, we will provide a detailed summary of the extensive and technical requirements of the law to help employers come into compliance.