Maryland Dems Save Pile of Fantastic Bills Over Governor's Veto
On Friday, Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed some really great bills passed by the state's legislature, including measures to expand abortion access, fund a family leave program, and to require firearms dealers to implement certain security measures to prevent their stores from being robbed.
However over the weekend, the majority Democratic legislature managed to override those vetoes and pass the damn bills anyway.
The Time To Care Act (SB 275), which passed Saturday with votes of 30-16 in the Senate and 94-44 in the House, creates an insurance program to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave to take care of a new child, care for a sick relative or deal with an illness themselves. It also bars businesses from punishing workers for taking advantage of the program. The passage of this bill, which is supported by 88 percent of the state, will make a huge difference in the lives of Maryland workers, who will now be able to deal with major life events without having to worry that they will lose their jobs.
The program, which will provide employees with up to 90 percent of their current salary while they are out, will be funded with contributions from employees and employers, although employers with fewer than 15 employees will not be required to contribute. Maryland now joins California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, DC, in having a paid family leave program. Given the impossibility of getting such a program passed on a national level, let's hope this starts a trend and other states follow their lead.
The legislature was also able to pass the Abortion Care Access Act (HB 937) on its own. The act will improve the ability of pregnant people to obtain abortions by allowing certain health practitioners who are not physicians (such as nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, certified and licensed midwives) to perform abortions and to receive training to perform said abortions. The Act establishes and funds the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program, which will get $3.5 million to set up at least two training centers in the state where these workers can go to learn how to perform abortions. This is meant to "expand the number of healthcare professionals with abortion care training and increase the racial and ethnic diversity among health care professionals with abortion care training."
Given that Roe is about to be overturned, any step to improve access to abortion is a welcome improvement.
In addition to these to bills, the legislature also passed HB 1021, a measure to prevent gun stores from being robbed. Firearms dealers will now be required to implement reasonable security measures, such as putting bars on their windows, installing security cameras, alarm systems and commercial grade metal doors. It will also require "a licensed firearms dealer to lock certain firearms in a certain location outside business hours."
This seems like it should be a common sense bill that everyone, firearms dealers included, could support. People who don't want to be murdered would surely enjoy knowing that it is more difficult for people to steal firearms and sell them on the street to those who are not supposed to have them, and it is hard to imagine that gun shop owners would like to be robbed, or to have to compete with those selling stolen merchandise. Alas, firearms dealers were in very upset about the bill, which they called "oppressive." Go figure! Guess they will just have to sit around being sad about how much less often they are going to get robbed now.
Other bills the Democratic supermajority passed include a bill that will require police interrogating minors to notify their parents and allow them to consult with a lawyer beforehand, a bill "applying the Prevailing Wage Law to a certain contract for the construction of a public work by expanding the definition of 'construction' to include services provided under a mechanical systems service contract," and a bill requiring the Maryland Transit Administration to invest in the Maryland Area Regional Commuter rail service.
Usually, these days, when we hear about bills being passed, it's because those bills are terrible bills that hurt people. Truly, it is refreshing to see a pile of great bills passed that are actually going to help people, and it shows what can be done when the public votes for people who aren't monsters. It also shows the importance of local elections, because these bills would not have been passed without a Democratic supermajority in the state legislature.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse