Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law on Tuesday that creates a fund to give loans to federal employees who are forced to work without pay during government shutdowns.
The bill arose from this winter’s prolonged federal government shutdown, when thousands of Maryland residents were required to work without pay — and were therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits because they weren’t available to look for another job.
If there is another shutdown, the governor would be allowed to put money into the account to provide interest-free loans to such employees.
“This is a great step in the right direction to make sure — first of all, we don’t want this to happen again, but if it does — that we are able to help provide benefits to those that deserve it,” said Hogan.
The bill was sponsored by freshman Del. Jessica Feldmark, a Democrat who represents parts of Howard and Baltimore counties, and Sen. Brian Feldman, a Montgomery County Democrat.
Hogan was joined at the signing ceremony by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House of Delegates Speaker Pro-tem Adrienne Jones. Jones filled in for House Speaker Michael Busch, who had a medical appointment.
The legislation was among 10 bills the legislature sent last week to Hogan. When the governor is presented bills while the General Assembly is in session, he has about a week to sign or veto them. This year’s legislative session ends April 8.
Democratic leaders are watching to see if Hogan vetoes any of the other measures, including a bill that would gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, a bill that would reverse Hogan’s executive order mandating that public schools start after Labor Day and a bill that would move alcohol and tobacco investigators from the Office of the State Comptroller to a new commission.