After two special legislative sessions this year, it’s safe to say that many of us are glad it’s finally over! The actions of the legislature were driven by the need to pass the state’s operating budget and sharp political divisions between the House and Senate, thus making it hard to move forward new policies to benefit Washington families. Still, the Washington Work and Family Coalition did succeed in establishing family and medical leave insurance and statewide paid sick days standards as high priority policies for the legislature to address next year. We were also victorious in fighting back efforts to roll back paid leave protections for Washington families.
We successfully blocked efforts by Senate conservatives to repeal the 2007 family leave program. This program has been postponed for the past 2 -budget cycles due to legislator’s lack of courage to fund it. Given the current budget fiasco, we knew it would be a challenge to even keep the program on the books. But by working with Rep. Green and Sen. Keiser to introduce HB 1457 and SB 5292, we showed policymakers a solid plan to fund and expand the program, and compelling testimony at hearings and communications from constituents convinced many legislators that our state’s families and economy will be stronger with family leave in place. In the end, the legislature did pass HB 2044 which removes the 2015 implementation date of the family leave insurance program.
We also blocked two pieces of absurd legislation that moved in the Senate which would have prevented or limited laws by local cities guaranteeing workers the right to earn paid sick days, like the one passed by the city of Seattle. HB 1313 and SB 5594 offered a different vision that would ensure Washington families can seek medical treatment and stop the spread of illness by not going to work when sick—a simple and effective public health practice that also helps rebuild family economic security.
The Washington Work and Family Coalition has laid the groundwork to pass family and medical leave insurance and paid sick days in the very near future – so stay tuned.
Via Washington Policy Watch:
The Paid Sick and Safe Days bill is one step closer to passage in the Washington state House after clearing the Rules Committee, its final hurdle before being scheduled for a floor vote.
“This is a big deal,” said EOI Policy Director Marilyn Watkins. “Many good bills die in the Rules Committee, and to have the paid sick days bill passed out of Rules is great news.”
The Paid Sick and Safe Days bill would allow workers in businesses with 5 or more employees to earn paid sick time to be used when the worker is sick, to care for an ill family member, or to deal with the effects of domestic violence. It may also be used for preventive care, which will keep workers and their families healthier. The bill is similar to Seattle’s paid sick and safe days ordinance, which was supported by a large coalition of small business owners and community organizations.
The fate of the Paid Sick and Safe Days bill is now up to House Speaker Frank Chopp and House leadership, who will need to schedule the bill for a vote on the House floor by March 13th. If passed, it would then move to the state Senate for consideration.
On February 5th, the Washington state House will hold a hearing on our two bills:
1. Family and Medical Leave Insurance
2. Paid Sick Days
Can you join us in Olympia on February 5th from 10AM – 12 noon to tell legislators why these are important to you? Email Gabriela at email@example.com
The Family and Medical Leave Insurance bill would allow workers to take off up to 12 weeks off – at partial pay – for their own serious health condition or to care for a new born or newly adopted child or seriously ill family member. Benefits are solely funded by contributions from workers and their employers, so it doesn’t put added pressure on the state budget.
The Paid Sick Days bill would give workers the right to earn paid sick days while on the job, ensuring all workers can stay home when they or their children are sick.
But in order for these bill to pass, we need your help in Olympia.
Please email Gabriela Quintana to learn more or sign up to testify: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Even if you can’t come to Olympia to testify on February 5th, you can still help!
Send us your story about a time paid family leave or paid sick days would have helped you, and we’ll make sure legislators see it! Click here to Share Your Experience.