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

Washington State Senate passes landmark paid family and medical leave bill

By a vote of thir­ty-sev­en to twelve (a three-to-one mar­gin), the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate has passed a land­mark paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave bill that will strength­en the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty and well-being of fam­i­lies across the Ever­green State.

Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill 5975 is the prod­uct of pro­longed nego­ti­a­tions between the four state­house cau­cus­es, busi­ness groups, labor unions, and oth­er stake­hold­ers. Leg­isla­tive staff have sum­ma­rized it as follows:

Brief Sum­ma­ry of First Sub­sti­tute Bill

  • Pro­vides paid fam­i­ly leave of up to 12 weeks to bond after the birth or place­ment of a child or to care for a fam­i­ly mem­ber with a seri­ous health condition.
  • Pro­vides paid med­ical leave of up to 12 weeks fo r an employ­ee’s seri­ous health condition.
  • Lim­its com­bined leave to 16 weeks in a year, plus an addi­tion­al two weeks if there are preg­nan­cy com­pli­ca­tions, for a pos­si­ble total of 18 weeks. Requires a sev­en-day wait­ing peri­od for leave, except for the birth or place­ment of a child.
  • Pro­vides leave for a mil­i­tary exigency.
  • Requires an employ­ee to work 820 hours in the qual­i­fy­ing peri­od to be eligible.
  • Spec­i­fies a pre­mi­um of 0.4 per­cent of wages begin­ning on Jan­u­ary 1, 2019. Pre­mi­ums assessed to employ­ers and employ­ees vary. An employ­er may pay the employ­ee’s share.
  • Bases ben­e­fits on an employ­ee’s wages and may be paid begin­ning Jan­u­ary 1, 2020.
  • Autho­rizes employ­ers to oper­ate their own equiv­a­lent vol­un­tary plans.
  • Includes spe­cial pro­vi­sions for small businesses.
  • Allows tribes and self-employed indi­vid­u­als to opt- in.

The bill text is avail­able here.

The roll call vote on SSB 5975 was as follows:

Roll Call
SSB 5975
Paid fam­i­ly & med­ical leave
3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 37; Nays: 12

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tors Beck­er, Bil­lig, Braun, Car­lyle, Chase, Cleve­land, Con­way, Darneille, Fain, For­tu­na­to, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hobbs, Hunt, Keis­er, King, Kud­er­er, Liias, McCoy, Milos­cia, Mul­let, Nel­son, O’Ban, Palum­bo, Ped­er­sen, Ranker, Rivers, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Schoesler, Takko, Van De Wege, Walsh, War­nick, Well­man, Wil­son, Zeiger

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tors Angel, Bai­ley, Baum­gart­ner, Brown, Erick­sen, Hawkins, Hon­ey­ford, Pad­den, Pear­son, Rossi, Shel­don, Short

Democ­rats were unit­ed in their sup­port of the leg­is­la­tion, while Repub­li­cans were divid­ed, with their cau­cus split­ting right down the middle.

The Repub­li­cans who vot­ed for the bill were:

  1. Ran­di Becker
  2. John Braun
  3. Joe Fain
  4. Phil For­tu­na­to
  5. Cur­tis King
  6. Mark Milos­cia
  7. Steve O’Ban
  8. Ann Rivers
  9. Mark Schoesler
  10. Mau­reen Walsh
  11. Judy War­nick
  12. Lyn­da Wilson
  13. Hans Zeiger

The oth­er Repub­li­cans are list­ed above in the “nay” cat­e­go­ry. (We con­sid­er Tim Shel­don of Pot­latch a Repub­li­can because he cau­cus­es with the Repub­li­cans, talks and behaves like a Repub­li­can, and votes for oth­er Republicans.)

Even a bro­ken clock is right twice a day, and it’s nice to see a good bill pass out of the Sen­ate for a change, instead of sim­ply dying there.

SSB 5975 now heads to the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where it is expect­ed to be eas­i­ly approved. It will then go to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee to be signed into law. Sen­ate pas­sage was the bil­l’s high­est hurdle.

NPI thanks the thir­ty-sev­en mem­bers of the Sen­ate who vot­ed to pass this leg­is­la­tion. Wash­ing­ton is a bet­ter state thanks to their action today.

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