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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

MN Paid-Leave Backers: Workers, Families Closer to Crucial Benefit

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023   

Minnesotans are learning more about a statewide paid leave plan, which cleared a major legislative hurdle this week.

Groups tracking the developments expect it to be a game-changer for the state's workforce. The state Senate signed off on the plan after the House approved it earlier this session. Bill differences need to be sorted out, but at its core, there are 12 weeks for paid family leave and 12 for personal medical leave.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO co-chaired a coalition pushing the approach for several years.

Bernie Burnham, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, predicted the successful votes this year will result in one of the most consequential labor policies ever adopted in state history.

"This is something that's going to be good for all Minnesotans," Burnham contended. "They can take care of themselves and people they love."

As for union members, Burnham acknowledged some have the benefits as part of their labor contracts, but many others do not. She thinks it will also improve morale and retention efforts for workers across Minnesota.

The Chamber of Commerce criticized the move, saying it's part of an "anti-employer, anti-business" agenda this session. Gov. Tim Walz has said he will sign the measure.

The plan would operate like a state-run insurance system, funded by a 0.7% payroll tax covered by both employer and employee.

JaNae' Bates, communication lead for the Minnesotans for Paid Family and Medical Leave Coalition, argued the approach was created with small business owners in mind.

"Especially the smaller mom-and-pop businesses, where they actually cannot afford for their own selves to take off for paid leave in the event that they needed it, nor could they afford to pay their current employees to be able to take paid leave," Bates explained. "What this does is, it allows them to be competitive."

Bates added such moves serve as a reminder people who play a vital role in keeping the economy going need to be able to thrive in their home lives as well. In legislative negotiations, there might be caps put in place when combining the two benefits. If signed into law, the paid leave benefits would begin in 2025.

Disclosure: The Minnesota AFL-CIO contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Civil Rights, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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