I traveled to Salem, Oregon last night for a hearing on bill to create a paid family leave program. The bill, if passed, would allow new parents up to 26 weeks of paid parental leave. Workers caring for a sick family member or themselves could get up to 12 weeks of paid leave. And expecting mothers could get up to six weeks of leave before delivering. This would be paid for by a 0.5% or less payroll tax.
I had planned to testify in support of the bill on behalf of the Oregon Pediatric Society. But, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out there were so many people already signed up to testify in support of the bill that there was not time for my oral testimony.
Lawmakers heard from mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and spouses about how paid family leave would help them to care for their newborn or sick family member. There were many small business owners who were eager to have help from the community at large to provide paid family leave for their employees. In opposition to the bill were several representatives from Chambers of Commerce and a few business owners, most of whom spoke in generalities about how the regulatory environment makes it hard to do business in Oregon.
On the contrary, I think this law will be a tremendous benefit to business in Oregon, attracting new companies that want excellent benefits for their employees.
I am hopeful that lawmakers will pass this bill and bring Oregon up to speed with the world in providing paid family leave.