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Possible Changes to Family and Medical Leave Insurance

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Business issues were once again at the forefront of the Washington State Senate as it began the third week of the legislative session. Passed in 2007, the family and medical leave insurance act included a number of provisions that affect businesses in Washington. It would have required employers to collect a payroll tax from all their employees, send that to the state, which would then pay some employees to stay home with new children or sick family members. While no one in Olympia denies that it is a wonderful idea, the State could not afford it, even back when the economy was good. In fact, it is never even been funded.

The legislature punted the issue for two years in 2007, again in 2009 and for another two years in 2011. That is why freshman Senator John Braun of Centralia has proposed senate bill 5159, which would repeal laws relating to the family leave insurance program. He says freeing up that budget-line item would make way for other things taxpayers have assigned a higher priority. Braun is quick to add that his bill does not repeal family and medical leave; only the parts of the law requiring it to be funded by the state. Senate bill 5159 had a public hearing Monday in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

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