Senate might vote to develop paid family medical depart

The Washington State Senate is considering a bill to extend paid family vacation to more Washingtoners.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle) in the State House of Representatives, is a response to the destabilizing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market.

The Washington Family Paid Vacation Program was passed in 2017. The main purpose of the program is to provide financial support – wage replacement – to employees who have to take leave from work for family or medical reasons. These reasons can be illness, planned surgeries, caring for a close family member, or maternity and paternity leave. The program also stipulates that employers will move an employee back to their previous position upon their return from PFML, provided the company has more than 50 employees and the employee in question has been with the employer for more than a year and has worked a certain number of hours in the last 12 months.

Berry’s bill, House Bill 1073, would add eligibility to the program and remove some restrictions on health and safety measures. It would extend aid to a large number of families – as much as 42,000, according to Berry’s estimate – who would otherwise be ineligible for the program due to job loss or vacation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To me, this bill is both common sense and compassionate,” said Berry as she advertised her bill on the floor of the house.

Berry and her co-sponsor, Rep. Noel Frame (D-Seattle), have a close relationship with the PFML program: both have had children for the past 12 months and thus received the program’s benefits. Frame, with her 7-month-old baby next to her, took part in a House debate on Zoom on March 3, arguing that the original bill did not anticipate the massive economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. She stated that expanding the benefits of the PFML program could have an economic effect comparable to last year’s stimulus checks.

“[Washingtonians] I immediately spent the money in the community, ”she said. “They paid their rent, they bought their groceries, they supported small businesses. And what happened? Our economy recovered. “

Republicans in the legislature approved of the goals of HB 1073 but opposed the high cost of the program.

“This bill will cost over $ 200 million for 18 months,” said Rep. Larry Hoff (R-Vancouver). “Does it help people? Yes, it does. Is it expensive? It is save. “

Republican lawmakers also raised concerns about the ability of the job security department that administers the program. According to ESD, the bill would require massive administrative changes “overnight”, causing Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) to worry loudly that lawmakers could “make a false promise” if the bill caused administrative problems the ESD.

The House passed HB 1073 on March 3rd with a largely party-political vote. MP Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) voted with Republicans against the bill. The law entered the Senate on March 6th and was passed through the Committee on Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs and the Committee on Ways and Means. In an executive action on April 2, the Committee on Ways and Means approved the bill and forwarded it to the Regulatory Committee. If it happens there, the Senate could vote to pass the bill as soon as next week. The legislative period ends on April 25th.

Comments are closed.