By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Republican leaders are floating new, voluntary paid family leave legislation.
It would allow employers to voluntarily opt in, but would not require it.
Gov. Chris Sununu and state Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, announced filing the legislation on Wednesday, saying it addresses the legislature’s concerns about the paid leave legislation proposed by Sununu last year, while addressing his concerns that the legislature’s plan amounted to an income tax.
A Democratically proposed Family Medical Leave Act, Senate Bill 1, which Sununu vetoed, was retained and will come up again this winter.
“Instead of government mandates that would impose an income tax, this is a truly voluntary, innovative plan that would deliver for New Hampshire families,” Sununu said.
“I urge the legislature to support this voluntary paid leave plan because it’s the best shot at providing a paid leave plan that does not have administrative barriers or burdens, is available to all who want it, and is forced upon no one who does not,” Sununu said.
State Sen. Dan Feltes, the prime sponsor of last year’s Democratic bill said: “If Governor Sununu seriously cared about working families, he wouldn’t have blocked Rep. Mary Stuart Gile’s paid leave bill, he wouldn’t have vetoed Senate Bill 1 this year, and he wouldn’t invented more fake family and medical leave proposals.
“Make no mistake, it’s a proposal written by and for the insurance lobby that shifts more taxpayer money to insurance companies, discriminates against New Hampshire’s small businesses, and discriminates against Granite State workers who need this coverage the most,” Feltes said.
Feltes is a Democratic candidate for governor.
In an interview with State House reporters following the Executive Council meeting Wednesday, Sununu addressed the issue. He said the bill addresses a lot of concerns.
Insurance Commissioner John Elias said the bill addresses two very important concerns that were brought up by the legislators and the insurance carriers during the past legislative session.
Bradley called it a “compromise plan…that supports Granite State families and does not put taxpayers on the hook with an income tax.”