On March 26, 2021, members of the Senate DFL caucus hosted a remote hearing on legislation (SF 1205) that would provide Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits for Minnesota families. The legislation has support across a broad coalition of 45 organizations in Minnesota. The companion bill (HF 1200) has been successfully making its way through the House as members realize the positive impact this legislation can have on Minnesota families.
Despite the broad support of the bill, Senate Republicans have refused to give the bill a hearing. Therefore, the Senate DFL organized an opportunity for Senators and the public to hear testimony on the bill. Senators of all parties were invited to participate, although no Republicans chose to participate.
Senate File 1205 would provide Minnesota workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to bond with a newborn or adopted child, or to receive medical treatment. Following the hearing, Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent and Senator Bobby Joe Champion released the following statement:
“I am proud to once again carry critical Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation in the Minnesota Senate. This is a transformative bill that says that Minnesotans care about each other and our families, and that every Minnesotan should not have to choose between taking care of themselves or a loved one and a paycheck,” said Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent (DFL- Woodbury). “This proposal has been debated for years, but the need for it is greater than ever, as we saw throughout this pandemic. Senate Republicans have continued to ignore the need for paid leave through their refusal to give it a hearing. As the majority party, they have had an opportunity to bring forward this important legislation to improve people’s lives. Instead, they have chosen to ignore the voices and needs of Minnesota working families year after year. DFLers are committed to delivering solutions for our hard-working families to ensure that everyone can have greater economic security – no exceptions.”
Under SF 1205, the vast majority of Minnesota workers would be eligible for paid family and medical leave. Workers would be eligible if they earned at least $3,000 in the previous year. In addition, independent contractors and self-employed individuals would have the opportunity to opt into the program. Senate File 1205 allows employers to keep their existing leave programs as long as they are equivalent or better than the program that would be administered by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
“Minnesotans lacking sufficient economic security is a problem that existed before the pandemic – especially in black, brown, and indigenous communities and for women. COVID-19 has only heightened pre-existing inequalities and made clear the need for Minnesotans to be able to care for loved ones or receive medical care when they need it without facing drastic financial consequences,” said Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL- Minneapolis). “SF 1205 is the right approach because in addition to providing greater economic security for workers, the bill also provides small business assistance grants for businesses with 50 employees or fewer, allows independent contractors to opt in, and it can bring countless more people into the workforce with the security to know that time off is available if they need to care for family members.”