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Strike 4 for Colorado paid family leave measure

Author: Mark Harden - May 1, 2018 - Updated: May 1, 2018

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HB 1001 would have created a state insurance program for workers in the private sector “to provide partial wage-replacement benefits to an eligible individual who takes leave from work to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition or who is unable to work due to the individual’s own serious
health condition.” (Photo by LightFieldStudios via iStock)

Over the last five years, Colorado lawmakers have tried four times to pass a bill creating a system for providing paid leave for workers taking time off to tend to family needs.

And now, for the fourth time, they have failed in the attempt.

The Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports that House Bill 1001 — the first bill introduced this legislative session by Democrats in the state House of Representatives — died at the hands of Republicans on the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Days before the session ends, the GOP-led panel voted 3-2 to postpone the measure indefinitely.

HB 1001, which had past the Democrat-led House 35-29, would have created a state insurance program for workers in the private sector “to provide partial wage-replacement benefits to an eligible individual who takes leave from work to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition or who is unable to work due to the individual’s own serious health condition.”

Workers would have paid a premium of up to 0.99 percent of their annual wages to fund the program.

Under current law, employees of businesses with more than 50 workers are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of family or medical leave, but that leave is not required to be paid. And the law does not cover employees at smaller companies.

Here’s what Hunter Railey, Colorado outreach manager for Small Business Majority, told the Business Journal:

“Many small business owners believe that paid family and medical leave isn’t just the right thing to do but it makes business sense. HB 1001 will benefit businesses by lowering turnover, reducing costs and boosting morale.”

But some business groups, including the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, opposed the measure, saying that many employers already have their own leave programs and that managing a state-mandated insurance system would be costly.

The bill’s sponsors were Reps. Faith Winter and Matt Gray and Sens. Kerry Donovan and Rhonda Fields.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.