Both sides un­happy with re­vi­sions to D.C. fam­ily leave bill.

Leg­is­la­tion trou­bling to ad­vo­cates, op­po­nents af­ter months of re­vi­sions

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN M. MCDERMOTT

Ad­vo­cates and op­po­nents of the D.C. Coun­cil’s paid fam­ily leave bill say the leg­is­la­tion still has key prob­lems af­ter months of re­vi­sions to as­suage busi­nesses.

Law­mak­ers are to vote Tues­day on the Uni­ver­sal Paid Leave Act of 2105.

Coun­cil Chair­man Phil Men­del­son has re­duced the orig­i­nal bill’s pay­roll tax to fund the paid-leave pro­gram from 1 per­cent to 0.62 per­cent, the amount of ma­ter­nity/pa­ter­nity leave from 16 weeks to 11 weeks, and the amount of wage re­place­ment from 100 per­cent of pay up to $3,000 per week to 90 per­cent of pay up to $1,000 per week. The re­vised bill also would limit leave to tend to a sick rel­a­tive to eight weeks and does not in­clude per­sonal med­i­cal leave.

The chair­man also has pledged to hold off on other pro-la­bor leg­is­la­tion that would af­fect busi­nesses in the city.

“Sen­si­tive to the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fects of leg­is­la­tion that could have a dis­parate im­pact on Dis­trict em­ploy­ers, I will sup­port a two-year mora­to­rium on the adop­tion of sim­i­lar bills, such as man­dat­ing sched­ul­ing re­quire­ments or nurse staffing ra­tios in hos­pi­tals,” said Mr. Men­del­son, at-large Demo­crat.

But those con­ces­sions have not con­vinced the Dis­trict’s busi­ness com­mu­nity that the mea­sure should be en­acted, es­pe­cially since city leg­is­la­tors al­ready have en­acted a mea­sure to raise the min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour in com­ing years.

“The D.C. Coun­cil must slow down this process to al­low those who will be im­pacted and re­quired to pay the cost of this leg­is­la­tion an op­por­tu­nity to be heard in a pub­lic forum,” D.C. Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent Vincent Orange said Mon­day in a let­ter to the coun­cil.

Mr. Orange is a for­mer at-large coun­cil mem­ber who chaired the com­mit­tee that in­tro­duced the orig­i­nal paid-leave leg­is­la­tion last year and held hear­ings on the bill. He now heads the city’s largest busi­ness ad­vo­cacy group, which has more than 1,500 mem­bers.

Mean­while, sup­port­ers of paid fam­ily leave say they still sup­port the re­vised bill but crit­i­cize Mr. Men­del­son for go­ing too far to ap­pease city em­ploy­ers, es­pe­cially in of­fer­ing a two-year mora­to­rium on pro-la­bor leg­is­la­tion.

“We were dis­ap­pointed that Mr. Men­del­son in­tro­duced a re­vised paid fam­ily leave bill that falls far short of the real needs of Dis­trict res­i­dents by cut­ting out med­i­cal leave, and it is fur­ther trou­bling that he would threaten to pre­vent fu­ture ac­tion on com­mon-sense mea­sures to help the Dis­trict’s work­ing fam­i­lies,” said Ja­cob Feinspan, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Jews United for Jus­tice.

Ari Schwartz, spokesman for DC Jobs With Jus­tice, said in a state­ment that paid leave sup­port­ers were “stunned and deeply con­cerned” over the coun­cil chair­man’s call for a mora­to­rium.

The Rev. Gray­lan S. Ha­gler of Ply­mouth Con­gre­ga­tional United Church of Christ said the com­ing years would be the worst time for the coun­cil to back off pro-worker leg­is­la­tion.

“On the eve of a new ad­min­is­tra­tion that prom­ises to cham­pion count­less at­tacks on hard-work­ing fam­i­lies, it’s ut­terly shock­ing that the chair­man would prom­ise to halt all pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion in the Dis­trict for the first two years of the Trump pres­i­dency,” said Mr. Ha­gler, a lead­ing pro-la­bor ad­vo­cate in the Dis­trict.

Mr. Men­del­son ac­knowl­edged Mon­day there is a small move­ment within the coun­cil to ta­ble the paid-leave bill be­fore Tues­day’s vote, but said that fac­tion doesn’t have enough votes to stop the mea­sure.

Coun­cil mem­ber Elissa Sil­ver­man, who in­tro­duced the orig­i­nal mea­sure, said Mon­day that the ma­jor­ity of the coun­cil sup­ports the bill and she ex­pects it to pass Tues­day.

Mayor Muriel Bowser has not of­fered sup­port for the bill or in­di­cated whether she’d veto it. How­ever, her staff of­fered the cri­tique that most work­ers who would ben­e­fit from paid leave ac­tu­ally live in Mary­land and Vir­ginia.

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