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Push To Extend Paid Parental Leave Gaining New Momentum

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Governor Gavin Newsom's ambitious plan to extend paid parental leave may be gaining new momentum with legislation just introduced at the State Capitol that would make California the first state in the nation to offer parents six months of paid leave.

Bethany Sasaki teaches new mothers how to feed their newborns, but she says one of the biggest problems many moms experiences may be returning to work too soon.

"I would not want to have a mother returning to work at six weeks. It's too early, it's too taxing," Sasaki said.

Research shows that longer paid maternity leave can increase the rate of mothers who attempt breastfeeding by as much as 18 percent.

Governor Newsom says that's one of the many benefits in his new plan that offers parents six months of paid leave to care for a new baby.

As a mom of two and the owner of an all-female lactation clinic, Sasaki has questions.

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"I just want to know what it's going to cost me," she said.

Lawmakers still do not know how the state will pay to keep parents home longer with their baby, but there is new legislation on the table that aims to make sense of it all.

"There's a great possibility that the funding is already there it just needs to be reworked in order to fund this bill," said Parveen Tumber, a lawyer with the California Employment Lawyer's Association.

That bill, sponsored by the California Lawyers Association, would not just expand the how much time parents can take, it will also offer them job protection. Supporters argue workers are already paying for that.

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"Right now, employees pay into the paid family leave program with their own paychecks," Tumber said.

That's why critics call the plan a larger payroll tax.

Sasaki said she would be willing to share the burden, she just wants to know how much she would need to pay into it.

The California Small Business Chamber has declined to take a public position on the proposal until more funding details emerge. Lawmakers expect more bulls to be introduced to iron out the details and hope to hear from the governor on the issue in coming weeks.

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