I write to correct the record on the JT’s “Legislative Wrap-Up” (April 21), which leaves out key details on the hard-fought victory for earned paid sick leave.
The Job Opportunities Task Force, which I lead as executive director, has been in the forefront of the fight for earned paid sick leave since 2013. The legislation that passed this year includes input from a variety of stakeholders, including small-business owners. Studies have shown that earned paid sick days actually increase business productivity and save health care costs.
The article offered state Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a vocal opponent of the bill, the opportunity to explain his vote. Two points deserve correction:
> Zirkin said that he would have supported the measure if it had adopted a ‘hardship amendment’ that he proposed. This would have allowed businesses to receive a blanket exemption if the executive branch found the law would create an “undue hardship” for them. This generalized, undefined “hardship” amendment would have completely undercut the intent of bill. Imagine, for example, a business seeking to be exempt from basic minimum wage or child labor standards because they claimed it would create a hardship? This is not in sync with fair and reasonable workforce policies.
> The article referenced the concerns of a local lifeguard company. In fact, Zirkin offered an amendment addressing those concerns — one of dozens
of amendments that were adopted to make the bill more workable for small businesses.
While I am disappointed that Zirkin did not support this bill, I am encouraged that so many members of the legislature, including many in our Jewish community, took a stand for Maryland’s working families. I hope that the next time the JT publishes a legislative wrap-up, it will include more balanced reporting that states all the facts.