Montana Invoice Goals To Create State Run System To Fund Household, Medical Go away

A handful of entrepreneurs and stakeholders testified Wednesday to support a Montana bill to create a state system to fund family and sick leave. Lobbyists from business associations reject the proposal.

Under House Bill 228, workers and employers would contribute to a state insurance pool that would fund up to 12 weeks of paid vacation for someone with a newborn, a serious illness, or a family member with a serious health problem who needed regular care.

Helena’s sponsor and Democratic MP Moffie Funk said the proposal would strengthen Montana’s workforce by making the state a more attractive place to work.

“These can be extremely stressful times and families shouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet or keep their jobs while facing these challenges,” said Funk.

While federal Family and Sick Leave Act only requires unpaid leave for businesses with 50 or more employees, House Bill 228’s plan requires all businesses with a payroll of $ 1,000 or more to offer paid vacations.

Employees and employers would bring an equal amount of money into the fund, limited to 1 percent of an employee’s wages. Total weekly benefits would be capped at $ 1,000, with high earners receiving a lower percentage of their wages.

A government tax bill estimates the program would require $ 2.7 million annually from the state general fund after the benefits become available in 2023.

Fourteen people testified on Wednesday in support of House Bill 228, including small business owners and representatives from the Montana Primary Care Association, AARP Montana and the Montana AFL-CIO.

Brain Thompson of the Montana Chamber of Commerce and a representative from the National Federation of Independent Business spoke out against the bill. Thompson said it was too much of a burden on employers.

“This bill is mandatory and creates a big new government program with new fees and new taxes to be paid by Montana companies,” Thompson said.

Proposals that would have created similar paid leave programs have not received any support in previous legislative sessions.

The House Business and Labor Committee has not yet taken action on House Bill 228.

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