Washington lawmakers, groups, discussing paid family leave

By RACHEL LA CORTE / Associated Press

OLYMPIA — As Washington lawmakers continue to wrestle with reaching agreement on a two-year state budget, another group of negotiators has been meeting regularly to discuss another topic: paid family leave.

Several bipartisan legislators — along with representatives from labor and business —have been taking advantage of the extra time provided by the Legislature’s need to go into double overtime because of ongoing budget talks.

While various family leave bills were introduced or drafted during the regular 105-day legislative session that started in January, none received floor votes. However negotiators say the two 30-day special sessions that have been called since the regular session ended in April have allowed them to have productive meetings.

“The fact that the budget is taking so long has given us additional time to work on this really important issue,” said Democratic Rep. June Robinson, one of the Democratic negotiators.

Lawmakers are hoping they can complete the work left unfinished by the 2007 Legislature. That year, lawmakers created a paid family leave program that required many employers to offer five weeks of paid time off for new parents. But they never came up with a way to pay for the benefit, resulting in an indefinite delay of its implementation.

“We definitely don’t want something like that to happen again,” Robinson said. “That would just set us way back in terms of having this helpful policy for workers and families in the state.”

Currently, just four states guarantee paid family leave: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York, though New York’s program doesn’t take effect until next year. The District of Columbia earlier this year also approved a paid family leave program, though it doesn’t take effect until July 2020.

The Washington state group has many elements that it needs to consider: whether the leave should just cover birth or adoption of a child, or for a family member’s serious health condition or other reasons; how long the leave should be; how much of a weekly benefit to provide; and, most importantly, how to pay for it.

Gary Chandler, vice president of government affairs at the Association of Washington Business, said that the goal is to “come up with a reasonable package that business can support, especially small businesses.”

Advocacy group Mom’s Rising was a driving force behind Washington state’s 2007 law, and Maggie Humphreys, the group’s Washington state director and a member of the negotiating team, said that having all of the groups at the table this year helps increase the chance for success for the state’s working moms.

“We need economic policies s that can really ensure women can balance the demands of caregiving and family in a way that allows them to participate fully in the workforce,” she said.

Republican Sen. Joe Fain, one of the negotiators, said that the desire by multiple groups to be at the table this year on the issue stems not only from increased local and national conversations, but also by the recent successes by labor groups at the ballot box in Washington state, like the recent initiative to increase minimum wage and sick leave that was approved by voters last November.

“This is not without controversy,” Fain said. “But there’s also a human side to it. And I think that there is a really good faith attempt by those in the labor community to understand how businesses can be impacted by this, and good faith in the business community to understand that there is a change in the landscape of our workforce.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Everett Fire Department and Everett Police on scene of a multiple vehicle collision with injuries in the 1400 block of 41st Street. (Photo provided by Everett Fire Department)
1 seriously injured in crash with box truck, semi truck in Everett

Police closed 41st Street between Rucker and Colby avenues on Wednesday afternoon, right before rush hour.

The Arlington Public Schools Administration Building is pictured on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
$2.5M deficit in Arlington schools could mean dozens of cut positions

The state funding model and inflation have led to Arlington’s money problems, school finance director Gina Zeutenhorst said Tuesday.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Jesse L. Hartman (Photo provided by Everett Police Department)
Everett man who fled to Mexico given 22 years for fatal shooting

Jesse Hartman crashed into Wyatt Powell’s car and shot him to death. He fled but was arrested on the Mexican border.

Snow is visible along the top of Mount Pilchuck from bank of the Snohomish River on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington issues statewide drought declaration, including Snohomish County

Drought is declared when there is less than 75% of normal water supply and “there is the risk of undue hardship.”

Boeing Quality Engineer Sam Salehpour, right, takes his seat before testifying at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - Subcommittee on Investigations hearing to examine Boeing's broken safety culture with Ed Pierson, and Joe Jacobsen, right, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Everett Boeing whistleblower: ‘They are putting out defective airplanes’

Dual Senate hearings Wednesday examined allegations of major safety failures at the aircraft maker.

An Alaska Airline plane lands at Paine Field Saturday on January 23, 2021. (Kevin Clark/The Herald)
Alaska Airlines back in the air after all flights grounded for an hour

Alaska Airlines flights, including those from Paine Field, were grounded Wednesday morning. The FAA lifted the ban around 9 a.m.

A Mukilteo firefighter waves out of a fire truck. (Photo provided by Mukilteo Fire Department)
EMS levy lift would increase tax bill $200 for average Mukilteo house

A measure rejected by voters in 2023 is back. “We’re getting further and further behind as we go through the days,” Fire Chief Glen Albright said.

An emergency overdose kit with naloxone located next to an emergency defibrillator at Mountain View student housing at Everett Community College on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To combat fentanyl, Snohomish County trickles out cash to recovery groups

The latest dispersal, $77,800 in total, is a wafer-thin slice of the state’s $1.1 billion in opioid lawsuit settlements.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.