Paid-Leave Proposal Resurfaces in ND Legislature
Friday, January 22, 2021
BISMARCK, N.D. - The weight of the pandemic is being felt by many North Dakota families, and supporters of a statewide paid-leave program are pushing a revised proposal they say would protect workers when they, or loved ones, need care.
State Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, has reintroduced a measure to create a paid-leave fund, facilitated by the state, for employers or their staff to contribute to. Unlike a previous proposal, contributions would be optional - and could be split by all parties, or covered by one of them.
Amy Jacobson, executive director of the group Prairie Action, said she thinks this added flexibility gives the bill new life.
"This lived experience that we've all had with the pandemic, and just really understanding the needs of our families in North Dakota," said Jacobson, "puts us in a position to be able to address that in a way that's empowering, really."
And although the program would be phased in, she said it gives hope to those who had to forgo paychecks because of the crisis.
The Greater North Dakota Chamber raised concerns about the previous plan requiring contributions. Meanwhile, another potential obstacle in the overall effort is a separate proposal, which would block local governments from enacting their own programs if the statewide effort falls short.
But Kristie Wolff, executive director of the North Dakota Women's Network, said she hopes enough lawmakers rally around Hanson's plan - noting it can help companies retain employees.
She said that's especially the case for smaller firms that want to help workers in these situations, but often can't afford to.
"This policy would make it possible to provide those benefits for employees and provide that culture," said Wolff. "And also will help us compete for good employees."
And supporters said the program could help independent contractors trying to survive in the "gig-economy." Jessica Petrick, a Realtor and small business owner in Bismarck, said now is the time to help women who have had to make difficult choices such life-changing events as childbirth.
"For example, I owned a salon, and a lot of the employees I had didn't have health insurance," said Petrick. "Some of them ended up getting pregnant, or whatever it was, and they didn't have any type of paid leave."
The bill does require an initial state investment of $5 million to help get the program started. That money would have to be paid back over a 20 year period.
Disclosure: Prairie Action ND contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …
Health and Wellness
BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …
OGDEN, Utah - Utah is one of only a handful of states that taxes food, but one state legislator says taxing groceries should become a thing of the …
CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …
Health and Wellness
ARLINGTON, Va. - Although COVID-19 rates have gone down, the virus continues to hit the Hispanic community especially hard. Now, a new campaign aims …
BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …
ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Mike Parson is facing calls to get the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission off the ground after it was created by the …