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Big Changes Could Be Coming For Paid Family, Sick Leave In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota legislative leaders say there could be a major change when it comes to paid family and sick leave policies.

That message comes as Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says he would like to see relief for families burdened by high child-care costs.

WCCO spoke with top state officials, and there appears to be an emerging consensus that could affect the bottom line for many Minnesota families.

Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan say they want to see a major change in state regulations when it comes to requiring paid family and sick leave. The Walz transition team is not offering specifics, but they gave us this statement: "Our administration is confident that this is an issue where legislators can come together to find common ground and provide relief to Minnesota families."

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It appears the Minnesota Legislature -- with its Republican-controlled Senate and the DFL-controlled House -- may be on board. Majority Leader Gazelka says he is open to a proposal, but wants to make sure small businesses are not hit too hard.

"Small businesses are the ones that typically, if they don't have the money, they're providing that, and at what level do we provide it? Where should the state be engaged to encourage?" Gazelka said.

Incoming DFL Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman says paid leave is one of her top priorities.

"Minnesotans have really told us that they need paid family time. We've had the Family and Medical Leave Act since 1993, but for a lot of families, taking up to 12 weeks off unpaid is just not realistic," Hortman said.

And both Senator Gazelka and Speaker-designate Hortman say they favor some kind of relief, possibly tax credits, for families paying high day care bills.

So will this apparent consensus on a lot of issue that affect Minnesota families actually happen? We will find out when the legislative session gets underway early next year on January 8.

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