In the recently released second season of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things,” police Chief Jim Hopper explains to the young telekinetic Eleven the definition of compromise. “It’s something that is kind of in-between. It’s like halfway happy.” That’s exactly what Gov. Larry Hogan’s Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 is: a compromise. It should leave both Republican and Democrat legislators feeling “halfway happy.”

The governor’s big announcement, made just over two weeks ago, comes on the heels of a combative 2017 legislative session. Hogan originally introduced the Commonsense Paid Leave Act (HB382), and by doing so, became the first Republican governor in the United States to put forth a statewide measure to expand paid leave. The Democrats in Annapolis decided to ignore the governor’s proposal and feverishly pushed their own paid leave bill through the General Assembly, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HB1). When the Democrats’ bill came across the governor’s desk on May 25, he vetoed it. Democrat legislators made it very clear that they would override Gov. Hogan’s veto on first day of the 2018 session. Knowing this, the governor and his staff went to work and after months of research they came up with what he felt was the best prescription, a compromise between the two bills, the Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018.


While both bills helped hard-working Marylanders by providing them paid leave at an accrual rate of an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, there were many striking differences between HB382 and HB1. For starters, HB382 required businesses with 50 or more employees to provide their workers paid leave, whereas HB1 required businesses who employed as few as 15 individuals to provide paid leave.

The next big difference between the two bills was the tax incentives. HB382 encouraged companies with 49 or fewer employees to provide paid leave by offering a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down via a tax credit to offset the amount paid for leave, while HB1 offered no such sweetener — just the bitter pill of an additional costly mandate on small business.

One last major discrepancy between the two bills is the reason allowed for taking the paid leave. HB382 would have allowed employees to use paid leave for any reason. HB1 only allowed employees to use their paid leave for either sick leave or safe leave, which are days that are to be used by victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault to receive help (legal, therapy, etc.).

When crafting the Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018, Hogan used the positives from both HB382 and HB1 to serve up some chicken soup for what ails both proposals. As stated in the news release introducing his compromise bill, the governor used HB1 as a starting point but fixed some of its flaws.

Instead of forcing companies with 15 or more employees to offer paid leave, Hogan is bringing that number up to 25 or more employees. Furthermore, rather than making companies adopt these new changes with little time to prepare, the governor’s proposal will implement these changes in phases. Businesses with 50 or more employees will need to have paid leave in effect in 2018, those with 40 or more in 2019, and those with 25 or more in 2020. The idea being that the smaller the company, the harder it will be to comply with the new law and implement a paid leave policy.

The governor’s compromise does not discard the tax incentives that were originally included in HB382. Companies with 49 or fewer employees who are offering paid leave will be able to receive a tax credit. In the governor’s news release, he announced that he will soon be introducing a Small Business Relief Tax Credit, which will provide $100 million over the course of five years in tax credits to small businesses.

In addition, the compromise bill does not require employees to provide a reason for using one of their earned paid leave days. Whether an employee uses it for a sick day or safe time is entirely up to that individual.

Every day we hear on the news and read in the papers that politicians at every level need to reach across the aisle and find balanced solutions. That’s why it’s refreshing to see our governor step up and put forward a fair compromise that should leave state legislators feeling “halfway happy.” As Gov. Hogan stated, “Nearly every day, we see the effects of partisanship, of divisive rhetoric, and political polarization in Washington — but we have always chosen a different path.”

There are certainly some “Stranger Things” that occur in Annapolis during any given session, and one hopes that a compromise on paid leave for Maryland workers will be one of them.