As the recent session of the Oregon Legislature nears to a close, there have been some important victories. From a significant revenue package to more health care for children, I’ve found myself generally breathing a sigh of relief that Democrats are in charge.
Despite this, it's looking like some important bills are not going to make it to the finish line. One is Senate Bill 966, which would have created a paid family leave insurance program in Oregon and which I wrote about here. The bill promised to provide $300 per week for up to 6 weeks for workers to take time off to care for a new child or ill or injured family member. The program would have been paid for by a 2 cent per hour payroll deduction, up to $42 a year for the average worker.
As can happen with legislation, last minute negotiations, hoewever promising, will most likely not be wrapped up before the end of a session. Even more frustrating, there have been a handful of Democrats that have not shown their commitment to family-friendly policies.
This is, however, no time for finger-pointing. The bill made if farther than it ever has and those working for family-friendly policies have many people to thank. A tremendous coalition, which included a long list of businesses, organizations and courageous legislators, stepped up and showed their commitment to Oregon’s families at a time when it was most needed. The bill garnered favorable editorials in both the Eugene Register Guard and the Oregonian, and coverage in nearly every major media outlet in Oregon.
Now, rather than taking a rest, the paid family leave coalition is gearing up for the short session in February and is doing the necessary work to shape the bill into one that is assured of passage. The coalition also promises to grow, with the anticipated addition of even more heavy hitters in Oregon politics.
So, what can you do? Between now and February, our legislators need to be reminded that paid family leave is an important issue. Please, call your legislators and ask them to support efforts to pass the legislation in February. Your work will ensure that Oregon remains a national leader of family-friendly policies, and that all of our families can be as healthy as possible.