Senate Republicans brought a bill to the Senate floor this week that they initially described as expanding paid leave opportunities for Minnesota workers. In reality, the bill simply allowed insurance companies to sell yet another insurance product that an employee would need to purchase before an event that would qualify for time off from work to care for family members. The bill contained no parameters on how much an insurance company could charge for the benefit or a guarantee all applicants would be approved, nor did it allow for personal medical leave to count as a reason for using the insurance. (SF 3885)
Rather than agree to a wholly inadequate solution to a real and critical need, Senate DFLers moved their own bill that would offer a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave option for all employees, regardless of where they work. The Senate bill would establish a paid family leave program that would function similarly to the state’s Unemployment Insurance program. Employees and employers would pay a small fee – about $3.43 per week on average – to access 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave benefits when needed. There would be no minimum employment requirement, six types of leave would be covered, and employees themselves – not doctors or insurance companies – would be in control of the decision to take leave.
Senate DFLers have carried a version of this bill for six years, and for six years, the Senate Republican majority has refused to give the bill a hearing. This week, they blocked the concept from coming before the full Senate twice, making it abundantly clear what their priorities are. (SF 1205)