Let the 2017 State Paid Sick Leave Wrangling Begin!

With a new calendar year comes a new legislative session, which brings new political wrangling about paid sick leave. Three states are in the PSL headlines: Maryland, Rhode Island and Alaska.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, House Bill 1, was introduced on January 11, 2017. The bill’s introduction seems to be a rejection of the compromise bill Governor Larry Hogan intends to introduce, or perhaps it is merely an opening gambit. HB1 provides broader rights to employees than the governor’s proposal. It would require employers with at least 15 employees to allow employees to accrue up to 56 hours of paid time per year for sick and safe leave. The governor’s proposal would require employers with 50 or more employees to allow employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid time annually.

In Rhode Island, more than 20 House Democrats have publicly declared their support for the “Fair Shot Agenda,” a four-part legislative package which includes paid sick days and an increase in the minimum wage, according to reports. The paid sick leave bill has not yet been introduced.wrestling-clipart-shirtail-2

Alaska will consider a paid sick leave bill for the third time. House Bill No. 30 was filed on January 9, 2017. Beginning October 1, 2017, it would require employers with at least 15 employees to allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Which of these states is likely to be the eighth PSL state? As I noted in Blue States, Red States and Paid Sick Leave Laws, six of the seven current PSL states were blue in the November election. Three—CA, MA, VT—were deep blue, giving Secretary Hillary Clinton more than 60% of the vote.

Last November, Maryland was deep blue (60% for Secretary Clinton); Rhode Island was blue (55% for Secretary Clinton); Alaska was red (51% for President-elect Donald Trump). Political prognostication is always risky, often wrong, as we learned in 2016, and beyond the scope of this blog. But let’s do an over/under anyway.

Alaska Prediction: Under 50% chance of PSL being enacted this session. Given that Alaska is a red state, with a Republican governor, with Republican majorities in both legislative houses, and the fact that PSL has failed twice there before, it is unlikely that a PSL will be enacted there this session.

Rhode Island Prediction: Over 50% chance of PSL being enacted this session. In blue Rhode Island, with overwhelming Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, and a Democratic governor, it seems that the PSL stars are aligned for a PSL law. Plus, both of their neighbors—Connecticut and Massachusetts—already have PSL laws.

Maryland Prediction: Over 50% chance of PSL being enacted this session. Deep blue Maryland, with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, and a Republican governor who is trying to broker a PSL compromise, also seems more likely than not to enact a PSL. It may take some horse-trading and who knows what the final bill will look like, but that’s just part of politics.

Or perhaps it will be none of the above, and another state will take that eighth spot!