Mandatory paid family, medical, and safety leave bill gets prelim OK in House

By Guy Page

The House yesterday gave preliminary approval to H66, the mandatory, universal Paid Family, Medical, and Safety Leave bill. 

The vote was 99 yes, 32 no, and 19 absent/not voting. See page 682 of House Journal for roll call votes. Following the initial approval, Gov. Scott indicated strong opposition to the bill. Also, a Senate proposal would offer greatly reduced PFMSL benefits in favor of spending more for child care. The bill is scheduled for final House approval today. 

The House PFMSL bill would:

Cost more than $100 million per year in the first several years, and likely increase annually because the commissioner of the newly formed Paid Family and Medical Leave Division of the State of Vermont would set a tax rate every year to cover all likely claims. That rate would start at .55% of earnings (split evenly between employee and employer) but would be adjusted each year to cover the expenses of the coming year.

Adds about 60 new State of Vermont staff positions to oversee the new benefit. 

That’s the financial and workforce impact Here are the proposed employee benefits.

PFL offers up to three months paid leave for all 30-hour per week employees of more than year for:

Family and medical leave – time off to care for a ‘family’ member, with family defined as a child, parent, guardian, spouse, loco parentis, someone like a family member, or someone with shared financial responsibility. 

Safe leave – available for 12 paid weeks and an additional 12 unpaid weeks, to employees who have worked 20 hours or more for six months. “Safe leave” means a leave of absence from employment by an employee because:

  1. the employee or the employee’s family member is a victim or alleged victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; 
  2. the employee is using the leave for one of the following reasons related to the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking: (i) to seek or obtain medical care, counseling, or social or legal services, either for themselves or for a family member; (ii) to recover from injuries; (iii) to participate in safety planning, either for themselves or for a family member; (iv) to relocate or secure safe housing, either for themselves or for a family member; or (v) to meet with a State’s Attorney or law enforcement officer. 

Governor Phil Scott issued the following statement regarding the paid family leave bill being considered by the House:

“It’s important to know, I support universal access to paid family and medical leave. That’s why my Administration put forward a voluntary program that is now being implemented.

“Today, however, the House of Representative is considering a bill that, instead of being voluntary, would impose a mandatory and regressive payroll tax on Vermonters, costing an estimated $117 million every year. The House also envisions building and funding a new program from scratch, requiring the addition of over 60 new state employees. This will be no easy task, as we are currently facing a workforce shortage and presently have over 800 open positions in state government that we’re unable to fill.

“This bill would rely on building out a whole new division, a complicated IT system, and more. My plan offers universal access to paid family and medical leave more efficiently and more cost effectively, and with far less risk to the State by using a third party administrator who knows what they’re doing, and wouldn’t have to start from scratch.

“With record state surpluses and high inflation, it is counterintuitive to force a new broad-base tax on already overburdened Vermonters – especially when there is an alternative path to achieve our goal.

“The Vermont Family and Medical Leave Insurance Plan my Administration is moving forward with provides Vermonters access to paid family and medical leave insurance faster, with a more stable, predictable system, provided by an experienced outside entity that is fully capitalized, and without imposing a new, regressive universal tax on workers and employers.”

Categories: Legislation

7 replies »

  1. Bennington and Pownal – both well-reputed drug destinations DESPITE three addiction treatment centers there which the democrats/progressives stated would alleviate addiction issues in southern Vermont. Instead, but of course, drug abuse & addictions & deaths from both continue to rise!

    What say YOU, legislators? “CRICKETS”………

    Now what? Well of COURSE – the dems & progressives shall now blame the Bennington Police for this death and the progs shall begin to hail their next brilliant solution which shall be: “safe” injection/drug use sites that will soon open the door for legalized/decriminalized drug use of all types!

    STOP voting for this Democrats! That is, unless, you hope to:
    1.) Lose most of the value of your home
    2.) Live & have your children live in yet another high crime state and/or community
    3.) Nearly guarantee YOUR children will one day become drug addicts or abusers
    4.) Live within one of the highest-taxed states in the Union as home values plummet, businesses close & tourism vanishes.
    5.) Enjoy raising a family in a state where “Rule of Law” is non-existent & anything goes!

  2. Like when Speaker Pelosi said they would have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it, the phrase: “ALL LIKELY CLAIMS” in this proposal will be subject to the usual expansion of mission. Like any social benefit in Vermont that is based on the honor system, there will be fraud and abuse. Eventually that abuse will be codified to include PAID time off to:
    -bring my cat to the veterinarian.
    -provide emergency childcare for my next door neighbor who has always been “just like family”.
    -claims of mental stress which can only be remedied with skiing, fishing, knitting, going to see a movie etc (otherwise known as “taking a mental health day”.
    etc etc etc
    This ridiculous proposal is yet another big bonanza for the state workers’ union as has their full backing.

  3. I guess we’re ok with the government taking over another piece of enterprise from the constituents…government, biggest business in the state, right? That camels nose thing just keeps growing doesn’t it? The more we let them do for us the less we’ll have to…or have an opportunity to…do for ourselves. That’s good…we just stay here in mom’s garage and play video games. Maybe we can get them to finally tackle the whatamIhavingforlunch problem. Deliver Chinese maybe?

  4. Our Congress will never go with something that makes common sense or is better for the people in this state. Good luck Gov. Scott.

  5. Should H.66 pass and survive a scott veto, history clearly shows this socialist program will quickly devour the initial .55% payroll tax. Then 1%, then 3% of Vermonters income will be stripped from their paychecks for the bureaucratic nightmare of this program. By 2026, Vermont will have the highest, most regressive income tax in the nation. CT, NJ, NY and CA won’t hold a candle to the rates required by Vermont to sustain this fiasco. phil scott is correct in his analysis of H.66, but leaves out the real costs to employers and employees. By design, proponents of this bill claim that employers pick up half the cost. Really. No, employers certainly do not pick up half the cost, they merely cut back on wage increases to compensate for the tax. Income sensitivity? Ha! If high wage earners are expected to pay additional percentages to compensate for low wage earners to receive a subsidy, our foolish legislature is severely mistaken. The net impact will be a loss of jobs at the highest wage levels, with a resulting loss of regular income tax revenue. Because of government’s misguided reactions and diktats to Covid-19, remote work is commonplace. For the jobs Vermont seeks to import, “green” jobs are the current rage- and “green” jobs can for the most part be wherever there’s internet service, be it Tennessee or Florida or the Carolinas. Vermont, as things currently stand just isn’t that great a place to live. Sure, NYC metro area folks love it here, love the lower tax burden- but as thing ratchet up to provide the programs these people demand, well- there goes the charm.
    Too bad our current batch of “democratic-socialist” legislators are so blinded to the realities of the world around them. Their need to reshape Vermont into a socialist utopia will only result in a socialist dystopia. They need only look at what Venezuela has become and what Brazil and Canada are becoming under socialist control.

  6. Bottom line is that no employer should be forced to pay someone for NOT performing work. Most VOLUNTARILY offer some level of paid leave to full time employees in the form of sick time and/or vacation. That is your paid, “family leave”. If you choose to spend your vacation laying on a beach sipping umbrella drinks or caring for your sick Aunt Mabel, that is your choice. Why should it become everyone else’s problem?

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