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Statement on H.66 (Paid Family Leave) Passing Out of General & Housing

Today, the House Committee on General & Housing passed H.66, an act related to Paid Family Leave, out of committee on a 9-3 vote; strictly along party lines. While I support the concept of paid leave and feel Governor Scott’s administration is making significant progress on a voluntary program, H.66 continues to remain mandatory for all working Vermonters. The legislation is also not complete and thus, I could not support the legislation in the current form out of committee.

At the onset, it was clear the speed and trajectory of the legislation and sought to make the bill better. I was able to have added the term “Miscarriage” as a clear definition of eligibility; which previous draft and passed legislation did not include.

The reasons why I voted no in committee today include:

  • I have received multiple phone calls and e-mails from constituents who expressed they cannot afford another additional payroll tax.

  • The current draft legislation includes a “placeholder” seed fund of $20 million. Based on costs seen in other states that implemented similar policies, this placeholder is likely significantly underfunded.

  • The bill expands the office of Treasurer Mike Pieciak, and per them, adds a significant administrative burden they are not prepared for.

  • We did not receive or had a clear opportunity to receive testimony from businesses; especially those who are smaller in size (5 employees or fewer.)

  • The testimony from the Joint Fiscal Office suggested that the economic model may be incomplete and/or the assumptions cannot be verified.

The next step for the Legislation will be to head to the Ways & Means Committee. I support the Lake Champlain Chamber’s desire to have this bill also visit the House Committee on Commerce & Economic Development, as they have done considerable work with the UI infrastructure, that if this bill becomes law, could see savings.

This legislation will likely be coming back to my committee in the future.

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