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Leave of their senses: Commerce GOP does the right thing

February 04. 2018 12:22AM

Kudos to the 11 Republican members of the House Commerce Committee who stood up to the latest batch of feel-good, job-killing nonsense making its way through the State House.

The full House had already given preliminary approval to HB 628, a half-baked plan to force all of New Hampshire's private employers into a family and medical leave insurance pool.

Rather than be honest about the new payroll tax that would be necessary to fund this new entitlement, program sponsors wanted to establish a "voluntary" program that would guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave. The new program would run parallel to the state's unemployment insurance program. The Department of Employment Security estimates the program would take two years to develop, and cost millions each year to run.

When the unemployment insurance pool began to run dry during the last recession, the state imposed a series of costly surcharges on employers. State officials told the Commerce Committee that the new family and medical leave plan would be insolvent from the start.

So now supporters want to raise the premiums and cut the mandatory leave time in half.

The program would not be voluntary. New Hampshire's smallest private-sector employers would be forced to offer the new benefit, pay to administer the program and collect the premiums from each employee. The only way workers could opt out of the new payroll premiums would be to submit a notarized form before they start work. Otherwise, they would be automatically enrolled in the new state scheme.

It would be nice if everyone could take time off work to care for themselves or a sick family member. But good intentions do not make real world problems go away. Instead, they drive up the cost of doing business, and take money out of workers' paychecks.

The House voted for a family leave program when it seemed like a nice thing to do. Now that everyone can see how badly the numbers add up, the House should reject HB 628. Office leave policies should be left to the private sector, and not to the social engineering of do-gooders in Concord.

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