‘Paid Family and Medical Leave’ bill passes State Senate

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The State Senate passed the “Paid Family and Medical Leave” plan on Wednesday night, voting 21-15 in favor of the bill.

The Paid Family and Medical Leave plan would apply to all workplaces with one or more employees and could be used for your own illness, or a spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.

It would provide for 12 weeks pay of up to $900 a week depending on how much you usually make. It would be paid for by a one half of one percent tax on everyone’s wages whether you ever took time off or not, and it would be administered by the state. 

“There’s a reason why this is ‘Senate Bill Number 1’ for a reason. This is our most important policy agenda item this session,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk).

It is also an issue Governor Lamont campaigned for, but on Wednesday, announced he would veto this bill because it would be controlled by a state board instead of seeing if private insurance carriers would like to run it. 

The Governor added, “There’s a lot of skepticism about government running programs. I hear that wherever I go, and I’m going to do everything I can to make this bold new item something that people have confidence we’re getting it right.”

Following the bill’s passage, Gov. Lamont issued a statement, which read,

“My commitment to enacting paid family and medical leave has never wavered. I know how important it is to hold onto your best employees while they care for their family or themselves. This program will make Connecticut more attractive to young workers and those with families, and it’s the right thing to do. However, at the same time that we are trying to streamline state government to make it more efficient for our residents and businesses, we should not tie the hands of the quasi-public agency that will have to oversee and implement what is essentially a $400 million dollar start-up company. The families waiting for these vital benefits cannot afford another healthcare.gov. We need to make sure this program is solvent, efficiently administered and nimble enough to adapt and adjust as needed, particularly in its first few, crucial years. I don’t believe the legislation, as currently drafted, will allow for that. I hope that once the budget is behind us, the legislature will be willing to continue our productive conversations around how to start up this important program in a way that offers the best user experience at the lowest cost to beneficiaries and taxpayers. I remain committed to bringing paid family and medical leave benefits to Connecticut’s workers.”

But the Senate President Pro tem, Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven), said time is running out and
that can be changed later as an amendment to another bill.

Related Content: Poll says overwhelming support for ‘Paid Family & Medical Leave’

He added, “It is important for us to get a bill passed in the Senate today to get down to the House and to move it forward.”

Republicans are criticizing the bill. 

House Minority Leader, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby), called it, “A ‘Payroll Tax’ that you cannot opt out of. You have no choice. You may never use it and you cannot not opt out of it. You can’t opt in nor can you opt out.”

Republicans said their optional Paid Family Medical Leave plan is a better solution and that it would come with no tax, no cost to the state and be totally run by the insurance industry. 

The Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven), said, “It’s flexible for the employee. Affordable for the employee. Not mandated for those employees that just don’t want to do it.”

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