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Minnesota House passes revised paid family and medical leave act

Lawmakers hammer details out for paid leave program
Lawmakers hammer details out for paid leave program 02:22

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Lawmakers in the Minnesota House have passed a revised version of a bill that will provide workers across the state paid family and medical leave.

The legislation would create an insurance-like system to allow workers to collect up to 12 weeks of partial wages when they take medical leave, including for pregnancy, and up to 12 weeks to take care of family members.

The conference committee report passed on a vote of 68-62.

"All Minnesotans should have access to paid time off to care for themselves and their loved ones," House Speaker Melissa Hortman said. "Far too many Minnesotans have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of a new baby, an aging parent, or themselves. DFLers are committed to providing workers and families with greater economic security." 

Both chambers of the legislature passed a bill for paid leave earlier in the session, but some differences had to be worked out in committee.

Eleven other states and the District of Columbia already have similar programs, though Minnesota's would be considered among the most generous. 

The lead author, Democratic Sen. Alice Mann, of Edina, said the U.S. is the only industrialized country without such a program in place. Data from states that have paid leave programs shows they lead to better health outcomes for mothers and children, increased financial stability for families, higher employee retention and less dependence on government aid, Mann said.

Only 24% of Minnesota's workforce now has access to paid leave, she said, with the "vast majority" being among the state's highest earners. Among the lowest-wage earners, predominantly women and people of color, she said, only 6% have access to paid leave.

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