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MN Caregivers Redouble Efforts for Paid Family Leave

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Advocates for Minnesota's aging population and health care groups are urging House lawmakers to pass a paid family medical leave bill that has already sailed through the Senate. (iStockphoto)
Advocates for Minnesota's aging population and health care groups are urging House lawmakers to pass a paid family medical leave bill that has already sailed through the Senate. (iStockphoto)
 By Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN, Contact
May 19, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Just days after rallying at the State Capitol, caregivers continue their push to urge Minnesota lawmakers to approve paid family medical leave.

The Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a bill to do just that, so caregivers say they're now focusing on House lawmakers as the session winds down.

Kim Houle, a caregiver from Richfield and a volunteer with the faith-based group Isaiah, says a statewide paid leave program would help working families to better care for their parents or grandparents.

"It might not meet all of their needs, but it will provide at least some sort of a safety net for them,” she stresses. “And it's vital that we provide 12 weeks, because it could be that somebody's dealing with both the birth of a baby and the death of a parent."

However, some Republican lawmakers say their Democratic colleagues put the current legislation together without sufficient input from the state's business community. According to news reports, both sides say they're willing to work on a compromise solution.

Senate File 2558 sets up an insurance program similar to those already in place in several other states.

Supporters of the idea, including AARP Minnesota and the Minnesota Children's Defense Fund, say the program would be funded by a small payroll tax that amounts to about $1.70 a week for most workers.

Houle says paid family leave would allow greater flexibility for many types of employees.

"It's going to provide those workers who are working two part-time jobs, sometimes three, with a pool of insurance money that they can tap into when they meet the criteria needed,” she states. “And it's going to pay out at a level substantial to their need."

The paid family leave bill is part of a larger package that would also set up tax credits for college tuition bills and expand an existing tax break for lower-income Minnesotans.



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