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Senate committee votes for more study of family leave bill

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

April 17. 2018 8:57PM




CONCORD — Unless the full Senate decides to override the recommendation of its Finance Committee, the paid family and medical leave insurance bill is dead for this legislative session.

The Senate Finance Committee voted along party lines on Tuesday to recommend the proposal to interim study.

Gov. Chris Sununu wrote the committee last week urging it to recommend against the bill, HB 628, which had passed the House in three separate votes.

“Today’s committee vote of interim study reflects the many unanswered questions regarding the paid family and medical leave insurance program,” said Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem.

Morse cited many of the same issues raised by Sununu in his letter, which suggested a veto was likely if the bill passed the Senate.

“This program puts our businesses and taxpayers at risk for unknown burdens and future costs,” he said. “Specifically, the Department of Employment Security expresses concerns that this program is not solvent in its current form and the true cost is difficult, if not impossible, to predict.”

Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy Director Amanda Sears expressed her disappointment at the vote.

“This vote to kick the can down the road sends a clear message to New Hampshire families that they are on their own; no help is coming,” she said. “New Hampshire workers and businesses alike shared hours of personal testimony on the need for this program. They should know their pleas are falling on deaf ears with Senate Finance Committee Republicans and the governor’s office.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate, which is unlikely to override the committee recommendation.

It calls for a 0.67 percent wage contribution from employees, who can choose to opt out of the program at the start of a new job.

After qualifying, a worker would get 60 percent of average wages for up to six weeks, with a minimum benefit of $125 a week.

Qualifying events would include birth, adoption or fostering of a child; or the serious illness of a spouse, civil union partner, child, parent, grandparent or in-laws, as defined by the federal Family Medical Leave Act; it also includes treatment for addiction.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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