Contortionists working harder as family leave efficiencies get closer

House Bill 3305 passed out of the House Appropriations Committee today on a straight party line vote. If passed, the bill will save Washington taxpayers $5.2 million in one-time start-up costs and $1.7 million annually in on-going administrative costs.

There was lots of discussion on the bill (from both sides of the political aisle) and there certainly be more when it comes to a floor vote later this session.

Given the benefits of this bill for the state budget’s bottom line, it’s a bit of a contortionist act for those who are opposed to paid family leave in principle.

HB 3305 implements recommendations developed last year by a bipartisan task force of legislators, business, labor, and family leave advocates that:

  • Simplify application procedures and streamline administration of benefits.
  • Clarify definitions and job protection provisions.
  • Assign the Employment Security Department to administer the program.
  • Protect employers from unintended effects on Unemployment Insurance premiums.

Some of the same opponents of paid family leave who successfully lobbied to:

1) Strip last year’s original Family Leave Insurance bill of coverage for an ailing parent, spouse, or child (family leave insurance now covers only parents of newborns or a newly-adopted child); and

2) Remove a self-funding, employee-paid, 2-penny-per-hour payroll tax (family leave insurance is now to be funded from the state general fund)

are now lobbying against Family Leave Insurance on the basis that…wait for it…it doesn’t cover enough people, and isn’t funded properly.

(Shakespeare ought to be here. He would love the irony.)

Today, though, Family Leave Insurance is law in Washington State. HB 3305 (and its counterpart, Senate Bill 6280) will save money, streamline administration, and improve the operations of the program.

Hard to vote against that, at least on the merits of the bill alone. Which is why opponents often prefer to change the subject when talking about it.

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