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Lawmakers Discuss Maryland Family Leave Bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A bill that would relieve people in need of paid medical or family leave is now up for discussion.

It's called the Time To Care Act. The bill will pay employees for up to 12 weeks in the event they need to take family leave. It requires no state funding and instead is funded equally by both employers and employees.

"Many of you in here know that I lost my mom a couple of years ago." said Delegate Kristin Valderama, a Democrat in Prince George's County.

For Del. Kris Valderama, this legislation is personal.

The Time To Care Act applies to anyone who needs a respite from work to deal with a life-changing situation.

For example, this applies to new moms, who need more time to bond with their newborns, but simply can't afford the time off of work. It also applies to someone who needs to care for a sick relative, child or even themselves.

"Or a loved one is dying and you want to share precious moments with that person." Valderama said.

There are more than 70 organizations supporting House Bill 839, including the Maryland Family Network.

"Right now the United States is the only country in the industrialized world that doesn't have a paid family leave policy for workers." said Doug Lent with Maryland Family Network.

The leave is funded through a state-administered insurance pool- much like social security- split 50-50 between employers and employees and amounts to 12 weeks of paid time off.

The average employee would be paying anywhere between $3 and $5 depending on his or her salary, and this would be deducted weekly from a person's paycheck.

At Monday's hearing, Del. Benjamin Brooks from Baltimore County shared his concerns about how the deductions might affect low-income families.

The bill's sponsor Del. Valderama responded by saying in part, "I would just answer that respectfully by saying that some of these folks. As Alex had mentioned, some of these folks can't afford- they have no choice but to leave their job and then they would get nothing at all to care for an elderly parent or sibling."

As part of Monday's testimony, the Maryland Family Network also cited a poll that it conducted, showing that 85 percent of Marylanders are in support of this bill, even if it means a cut in their paycheck.

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