(VitalNews.org) – A bill to give Minnesota workers paid sick leave has passed both chambers and is awaiting Governor Tim Waltz’s signature to become law.
The Senate passed the bill on May 8th with a vote of 34-33 along party lines, with Democrats backing the law and Republicans voting no. The bill passed the Minnesota House in the first week of May by 68-64.
Business interest groups such as the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce do not support the legislation and have been trying unsuccessfully to block the bill’s advance since early 2023.
The bill would create a system similar to insurance for workers who have to take sick leave either for themselves or to care for a sick family member. Conditions such as pregnancy are included as qualifying. Workers would be able to get up to three months of partial pay during leave, beginning in 2025.
The amount workers would receive would vary from 55% to 90% pay.
Where would the money come from? A new 0.7% payroll tax. Businesses would be allowed to charge employees up to half that tax, and the business would have to pay the other half. If a company has a more generous sick leave plan than the new state law calls for, those companies would be exempt.
The bill’s author, Senate Democrat Alice Mann, said the plan would be “successful, durable, sustainable, and popular.” The United States is the only country in the industrialized world that does not have a national sick leave program, she said. As politicians usually do when justifying a new tax, Mann compared the tax’s cost to a small item such as the cost of a weekly cup of coffee.
Eleven U.S. states and the District of Columbia have already set up similar schemes.
Opponents say the bill would be too expensive for many employers. GOP Sen. Julia Coleman has pleaded with Democrats to slow down and “find a plan that will not crush our small businesses.”
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