Republicans counter Democratic paid sick days bill

By  | 

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Discussions are getting heated in Augusta in a battle over a bill regarding paid sick days.

Republicans held a press conference Tuesday to lay out their proposed compromise to the Democratic paid sick days bill.

"We think we've struck a good balance, balancing the needs of the employees and the employers, so we urge the other party to negotiate with us," said Rep. Dick Bradstreet, R-Vassalboro.

They say the current bill would put a huge burden on Maine small businesses.

"I definitely think that what is happening in state government this year is that they're doing death by a thousand cuts to businesses," said Sen. Stacey Guerin, R-Penobscot. "Mandate after mandate for private businesses is not a principle that I think Maine people agree with."

Republicans would like changes including upping the number of employees a business must have to qualify for this to be raised from five or more to 15 or more.

They're also asking to exempt per diem workers.

Democrats are not happy Republicans went public with the negotiations.

"Now they've gone out and tried to go out and negotiate this through the press, which is really unfortunate," said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. "I mean, I'd like to say a lot of other words what it is, but I'm just going to leave it that it's unfortunate."

Jackson says he might let it go to a potential referendum that Republicans would like even less.

"I'm kind of two minds with it," said Jackson. "I mean, I want to do what's best for the people of Maine, but if this is the way they're going to operate, then we might just walk away from the whole thing and go ahead and let the referendum go out and see how they like that. Which I know damn well is not what they want, and I know that's not what the chamber wants."

I'm told there will be a meeting between top Senate Democrats and members of the Senate Republican caucus Wednesday.