Lawmakers Introduce Statewide Family & Sick-Leave Bills

There’s a move in Olympia to create a statewide plan for paid family and sick leave. Dan Frizzell has that story.

By a wide margin, voters last November OK’d an initiative mandating paid sick leave for most Washington workers.  Some lawmakers in Olympia are looking to expand on that effort by introducing legislation allowing for up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in addition to the 12 weeks of medical leave in Inititive 1433.  Representative June Robinson and Senator Karen Keiser, both Democrats, are sponsoring the bills in their respective chambers. The family leave could be used by parents to bond with new children, including adoptees, or to care for ailing family members. Both types of leave would be funded by payroll premiums paid by employees and employers, averaging about two dollars a week for a typical Washington worker.  House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan sounded supportive of the move in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

SULLIVAN: “I think that both parties recognize it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and understand how important it is for those newborns to get the attention that they deserve.  All the studies show that the earlier you can intervene and nurture children, the more benefit it has to the life of the child.  The research is very clear.”

While the Republicans who control the state Senate haven’t scheduled Keiser’s bill for consideration, Robinson’s bill will have a public hearing in the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee Thursday morning. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.