Washington may be close to paid family leave legislation

The double overtime session appears to have given negotiators enough time to reach agreement on paid family leave. Jerry Cornfield reports in the Everett Herald,

Workers in Washington would enjoy the best paid family leave benefits in the nation under a tentative accord reached by Democratic and Republican lawmakers late Wednesday.

“We’ve reached agreement on a framework,” Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, said Thursday. “It will be the strongest policy in the country.”

As he writes, the deal’s not done. Legislation has to be drafted and votes have to be garnered. But key players are on board.

“I’m very pleased with the results of the negotiation,” said Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn. “This reflects a compromise that will support growing families, allowing new moms and dads to spend critical time with their children as well as giving individuals facing a temporary disability the time to recover.

“Just as importantly it is a plan that recognizes that the burdens we place on business can have dire consequences if done improperly,” he said. “I hope this compromise will earn strong support from both the labor and business communities.”

We wrote about this earlier, noting that the policy – at least in concept – has widespread public support nationally. As Cornfield writes, the agreement would fulfill a decade-old promise.

When Washington lawmakers established the program in 2007 it never got started because lawmakers could not agree on a way to pay the benefits. 

More on this later. But with just days left in the session and fiscal year, Washington may be about to join a small group of states offering the benefit.