NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 30th, 2017

State House swiftly passes paid family and medical leave bill, sending it to Inslee’s desk

Wash­ing­ton State’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly giv­en its back­ing to a land­mark paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave bill that will bol­ster the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty and well-being of Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies. The House took action with­in an hour of hav­ing received the bill from the state Sen­ate, which is extreme­ly fast.

The leg­is­la­tion, Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill 5975, passed the House by a vote of six­ty-five to twen­ty-nine. Four mem­bers were excused and did not take part in the vote.

Roll Call
SSB 5975
Paid fam­i­ly & med­ical leave
Final Passage

Yeas: 65; Nays: 29; Excused: 4

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Apple­ton, Bergquist, Blake, Chap­man, Clib­born, Cody, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Frame, Good­man, Graves, Gregerson, Haler, Hansen, Harmsworth, Har­ris, Hud­gins, Irwin, Jink­ins, Kagi, Kil­duff, Kir­by, Klo­ba, Lovick, Lyt­ton, MacEwen, Macri, Man­weller, McBride, McCabe, McDon­ald, Muri, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pel­lic­ciot­ti, Peter­son, Pet­ti­grew, Pol­let, Reeves, Ric­cel­li, Robin­son, Ryu, San­tos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slat­ter, Smith, Springer, Stam­baugh, Stan­ford, Stokes­bary, Stonier, Sul­li­van, Tar­leton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Wer­ven, Wilcox, Wylie, Chopp

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Barkis, Buys, Caldier, Chan­dler, Con­dot­ta, DeBolt, Dye, Grif­fey, Har­grove, Jenkin, John­son, Klip­pert, Koster, Kraft, Kretz, Kris­tiansen, May­cum­ber, McCaslin, Nealey, Orcutt, Pike, Rodne, Schmick, Steele, Tay­lor, Vick, Volz, Walsh, J., Young

Excused: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Hayes, Holy, Mor­ris, Shea

As in the Sen­ate, the Democ­rats were unit­ed in their sup­port of the bill while the Repub­li­cans were divid­ed, pro­vid­ing all of the nay votes and some aye votes.

Here’s some back­ground from leg­isla­tive staff on how it will work:

Aver­age pre­mi­ums will cost about $4 a week per employ­ee (shared between the employ­er and employ­ee) with a max­i­mum ben­e­fit of $1,000 a week. The cost of the leave pro­gram will be shared with employ­ee pre­mi­ums account­ing for about 63 per­cent and employ­ers con­tribut­ing 37 per­cent.  Con­sid­er­a­tions have been made for small busi­ness­es, includ­ing opt-in only pre­mi­um con­tri­bu­tions for employ­ers with 50 or few­er employ­ees. Employ­ees of busi­ness­es with few­er than 50 work­ers are still cov­ered by the benefit.

Busi­ness­es with 150 or few­er employ­ees would also be eli­gi­ble for a grant for the cost to cov­er the duties of employ­ees tak­ing leave.

Leg­is­la­tors cel­e­brat­ed the pas­sage of SSB 5975 with a news release.

“To care for a baby or an aging par­ent, paid fam­i­ly leave is the gift of time and peace of mind that we can be there for our fam­i­lies, put food on the table and go back to a job that is secure,” said State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive June Robin­son, D‑38th Dis­trict (Everett), who authored the orig­i­nal House bill.

“This leg­is­la­tion, which is both work­er-friend­ly and fis­cal­ly respon­si­ble, is good for fam­i­lies, smart for busi­ness, and keeps our state mov­ing forward.”

“Wash­ing­ton State has proved once again that we are lead­ers for the cause of work­ing fam­i­lies and shown that even on issues with a vast range of per­spec­tives, bipar­ti­san com­pro­mise is pos­si­ble when the focus stays on the com­mon good,” said Sen. Karen Keis­er, D‑33rd Dis­trict (Kent), the lead Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic negotiator.

“I was dev­as­tat­ed when my first paid fam­i­ly leave law that was adopt­ed in 2007 was ulti­mate­ly defund­ed in the wake of the Great Reces­sion. But through tough-mind­ed bipar­ti­san nego­ti­a­tions, we have devel­oped a pro­gram that will become a cor­ner­stone for thriv­ing fam­i­lies and suc­cess­ful businesses.”

Sen­ate Repub­li­can Floor Leader Joe Fain served as the orig­i­nal spon­sor in the state Sen­ate and helped nego­ti­ate the deal with Keis­er, Robin­son, and oth­er legislators.

“Too often moms and dads are not able to take time to bond with and care for their new­born, or recov­er from a seri­ous injury,” said Fain (R‑47th Dis­trict), the measure’s prime spon­sor. “Our paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave plan pro­vides eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty for work­ing fam­i­lies, while respect­ing the needs of employers.”

“This plan rep­re­sents what is pos­si­ble when Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats work togeth­er in the best inter­est of our state.”

Only four oth­er states cur­rent­ly offer or are set to offer a com­pre­hen­sive paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave insur­ance pro­gram. All are blue states: Cal­i­for­nia, New Jer­sey, Rhode Island, and New York. The Dis­trict of Colum­bia also offers paid leave.

This is a tru­ly sig­nif­i­cant accom­plish­ment and we con­grat­u­late the Leg­is­la­ture on this strong bipar­ti­san vote for a wor­thy, need­ed pro­gres­sive idea.

The bill now awaits sign­ing by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee.

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