Senate Committee hears sick leave bill, including Progressive Maryland testimony

Media accounts of a Senate committee hearing on this year's paid sick leave bill varied widely from objective to blatantly pro-business, we find, but the picture is steadied by Progressive Maryland staffer Jennifer Dwyer's testimony at the hearing.

 /PM BlogSpace Report/ Dan Menefee in Maryland Reporter provides a really loaded article about the Feb. 9 hearing on earned paid sick leave bills in the Assembly, purporting to provide the “for and against” testimony before the Senate Finance Committee but in fact foregrounding many big business whines about how much of a burden the paid sick bills impose – and only one brief “pro” from a business owner who already provides paid sick leave (good for him) and favors the bill because it will give him a “level playing field” for competing with other similar businesses. Menefee’s article is kind of a pro-business shuck, actually … Erin Cox in the Sun has the straighter account of the hearing, comparing the House (HB 1) and Senate (SB 230) bills with Larry Hogan’s inadequate red-herring proposal that would pass over the most vulnerable workers by limiting the requirements to businesses with over 50 employees.

After the hearing before the Senate committee yesterday the House bill faces the House Economic Matters Committee today (Feb. 10) – a committee that was a barrier to sick leave legislation for four years running before finally passing this bill last year.

Here is Progressive Maryland’s testimony from yesterday’s (Feb. 9) hearing on the Senate Bill, delivered to the Senate Finance Committee:

Testimony in Support of Maryland Senate Bill 230: Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

TO:    Hon. Thomas Middleton, Chair, and members of the Senate Finance Committee

FROM:        Jennifer Dwyer, Progressive Maryland

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on SB 230. Progressive Maryland is a grassroots, nonprofit organization of more than 100,000 members and supporters who live in nearly every legislative district in the state. In addition, there are 18 affiliated religious, community and labor organizations that stand behind our work. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families in Maryland. Please note our strong support for this bill.

SB 230 requires specified employers to provide employees with earned sick and safe leave. Employees will earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 7 full days of paid sick leave per year for full-time workers. Part-time workers will accrue fewer days per year, depending on the number of hours worked.

[Some] 750,000 workers in Maryland currently lack access to earned sick leave. Workers without paid sick days are among the least economically secure, and are often just one illness away from eviction, missed bills, and other extreme financial hardship. Just three and a half days of missed work because of illness is equivalent to an entire month’s groceries for the average family.

Of all the bills proposed this session, SB 230 provides the strongest protection for Maryland workers. Crafted with input from small business, public health and faith communities, advocates from community and labor organizations, and legislators, SB 230 covers the most workers and calls for workers to begin accruing earned sick leave immediately upon beginning a new job.

Maryland’s working families deserve the opportunity to recover from illness without the risk of financial ruin. We urge a favorable report.