For the past six years, the Senate DFL has been pushing for a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave policy that would be available to all workers, regardless of where they work, when they or a family member need care. The bipartisan, DFL-led plan would create a statewide program to provide wage replacement for up to 12 weeks of employment leave to care for a new child or attend to a personal or family-member medical need – something too many Minnesotans have encountered during the pandemic.
The DFL strongly believes that no one should be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or their families. Our economy works better when employees, their children and their aging parents are healthy and cared for.
This week, Senate Republicans presented two bills that fall far short of meeting that goal. The first bill would ask insurance companies to offer yet another insurance product people could purchase if they anticipated adding a child to their family. If they could afford another insurance policy and if the insurance company approved their coverage request, they could use it only for parental leave or caretaking – not their personal medical needs. The bill’s author admitted the bill, “provides no assurances or guarantee it goes to everybody,” unlike the DFL plan. The bill’s only supportive testimony came from the insurance industry and business groups. This bill was sent to the Senate Floor and awaits a vote. (SF 3885)
The second bill would offer a maximum $3,000 tax credit to employers who offer a minimum of two weeks of paid parental leave to its employees, or a maximum $3,000 tax credit to employees whose employers do not offer any leave at all. This bill would only apply to parental leave, not caring for other families or personal medical needs. Perhaps most striking, the bill would reward companies that provide just two weeks of paid leave – the bare minimum, considering most women are not medically approved to return to work at two weeks postpartum and many studies cite the negative effects early separation has on developing infants. Testifiers pointed out that this idea solves no problem and simply maintains the status quo, where only those Minnesotans who can afford to take time off after adding a child are able to do so. This bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Omnibus Tax Bill. (SF 1780)