Friday the House passed its version of paid family leave. It's not as expansive as the Senate bill and it defers the question of how to pay for the benefit. The House bill is limited to paying for the care of a new child.
Ralph Thomas reports on the the bill in the Seattle Times.
When it cleared the Senate, the bill allowed workers to take paid leave to care for an ailing relative.
Senate leaders say they will agree to the scaled-down benefits approved by the House. But the two sides still must resolve disagreements on how to pay for the program.
The House bill calls for creating a task force to design the new program and recommend how to fund it.
But Senate leaders do not want to put off the funding decision. Instead, they are proposing a payroll tax on all workers of slightly less than 1 cent per hour.
Rachel La Corte has the AP story with this nice observation from AWB's Kris Tefft.
Setting up the program before determining how to pay for it "is a case of shoot first, aim later," said Kris Tefft, general counsel for the Association of Washington Business.
"The reason this bill hasn't passed in six years trying is that both parties recognize its supporting details have been unworkable," he said. "It's hard to predict if the task force can come up with something better. It's like looking in the refrigerator for the 100th time and hoping there will be something in there this time."
In an e-mail to me, Kris also points out that the characterization of the House bill as "watered-down" goes a bit far.
... a "mere" maternity benefit accounts for 90% of the expected utilization (and 90% of the actual utilization in California) of a full benefit that includes one's own illness as well as that of sick family members. So I quibble with accounts that say this is "watered down". It is 90% of the loaf in terms of substance for the proponents.
The two sides have a few days to reconcile the competing versions.