Senate approves potential repeal of Paid Family Leave, bill moves to House

olympia capitolIt hasn’t been a good week for working families in the Washington State Legislature.

On Monday, the Senate passed an amended version of SB 5903, which will repeal the Family Leave Insurance system if a funding mechanism is not identified in 2014. The bill will create a taskforce of eight legislators to fund the system. If no agreement is made, family and medical leave will be automatically repealed in 2015. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

However, the AP reports that the Rep. Tami Green, the prime sponsor of a bill to fund and implement the Family Leave system, does not believe there’s support among majority Democrats in the House to repeal the law outright. Five Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the current bill, including Sen. Hargrove (D-Port Angeles), Sen. Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond), Sen. Steve Hobbes (D-Lake Stevens), Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), and Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Kitsap).

The Paid Family Leave law approved in 2007 would have established a paid parental leave system in Washington state, providing a benefit of $250/week for 5 weeks to new parents. However, the bill was passed without a funding source, and implementation was delayed when the recession hit.

The United States is just one of three countries – joined by Papa New Guinea and Liberia – to not guarantee paid parental leave benefits, although maternity/parental leave systems are in place in California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and New York.

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