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Hogan pledges to veto paid sick leave bill if it reaches him

Brian Witte, Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday he would veto a bill requiring businesses with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick leave.

The Republican governor said either of two bills that are advancing in the Democrat-controlled legislature would be "dead on arrival."

"If either of these job-killing bills reaches my desk, they are dead on arrival," Hogan said at a news conference. "I will veto them immediately, because they will simply kill businesses and jobs."

Hogan has his own proposal providing paid sick leave for businesses with 50 or more employees. His measure includes tax incentives for smaller businesses that offer paid sick leave, unlike the legislature's versions. While it hasn't moved forward, Hogan said it's not too late to work out a measure he believes would be less of a burden on small businesses.

"We're happy to work with them, but you know the marker we laid down was we didn't want a bill that was actually going to hurt our economy, cost us businesses and kill thousands of jobs, and I believe that's what that bill does," he said.

There are substantial differences between the House measure, which has already passed that chamber, and the Senate bill, which could get a vote this week. The two chambers would have to work out those differences before sending a bill to the governor.

The House passed its bill 88-51, three votes more than it would need to override a veto. The Senate would need 29 votes out of its 47 members to override a veto. Several of the Senate's 33 Democrats have expressed concerns about the current bill.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller this week acknowledged some of the potential difficulties in reconciling some of the House and Senate differences.

"Our problem is not this governor right now. Our problem is working out a compromise with the House of Delegates, who have passed a very different bill," Miller, D-Calvert, said Tuesday.

An analysis by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy estimated that the House bill would expand paid sick leave to about 512,000 people who currently don't have it. The analysis estimated Hogan's proposal would extend paid sick leave to 272,000 people.

Meanwhile, Hogan gave an update on how he believes his legislative agenda is faring with less than a month left in the session. He said he's pleased the legislature is moving on measures to protect victims of sex trafficking, enhance clean water initiatives and support job creation in parts of the state that badly need jobs.

However, he noted "little to no progress on many of our most important initiatives." Among them: a bill aimed at relieving college debt and another measure to enhance ethics laws for public officials. He also said a bill to put congressional and state legislative redistricting in the hands of an independent board also has not gained ground.