Maryland Lawmakers Prepare for Tax, Health, Paid Leave Debates

Maryland lawmakers are bracing for a challenging session wrestling with changes in tax and health care law in Washington.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, told senators Wednesday on the first day of the General Assembly's 90-day session that lawmakers will need to come up with equitable solutions to "these very weighty issues that have been passed down from the federal government."

Some Maryland taxpayers are expected to pay more in state taxes due to changes in the federal tax overhaul that cut federal deductions and exemptions. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has estimated it could create hundreds of millions of dollars in added state taxes.

Sen. J.B. Jennings, the Senate minority leader, says his goal is to support the governor and "give Maryland taxpayers the tax cut that Congress pushed for."

Leaders also say they're gearing up for an early battle to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a bill requiring paid sick leave.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he expects to take up the issue on the second or third day of the session, which starts Wednesday at noon.

Miller, a Democrat, spoke during the 15th Annual Annapolis Summit, which is sponsored by The Daily Record and the Marc Steiner Show. The Senate president says he's hoping to send a strong message early in the session to working men and women. The bill would require businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to five earned sick days. The bill passed by 29 votes in the Senate last year, the bare minimum needed to override the Republican governor's veto.

House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat, said during the program that his members are ``enthusiastically'' ready to vote to override the veto. The bill passed in the House with 88 votes, three more than needed to override the veto.

Lawmakers also are expected to act swiftly to allow more licenses to grow medical marijuana to boost diversity with minority-owned businesses. 

Legislative leaders have pledged to prioritize a bill to take parental rights away from rapists.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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