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Washington Governor Signs Paid Family Leave Bill

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee today signed into law a bill that creates a state-run paid family and medical leave insurance program.

The family leave program will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave during a 12-month period to take care of a newborn or a newly-adopted child. They can be granted leave to care for a sick child or parent or take care of their own health.

Governor Inslee beamed as he was surrounded by supporting legislators, some business owners and others during his bill signing ceremony.

“New parents and those with aging or sick loved ones, today before this law, faced no-win decisions, decisions pitting the need for a paycheck against the need to be there for your entire family," Inslee said.

The program will be funded in part by contributions from both employers and employees, something appreciated by Kerri Lonergan-Dreke from Lombardi’s Italian Restaurants and Catering, a family-owned business in Seattle.

“This bill allows small businesses to compete on a more-level playing field with big businesses which have the resources to typically pay for a bill like this,” she said.

Military members are also eligible for leave in certain situations. The maximum weekly benefit is a thousand dollars; it’s based on a state formula.

After negotiations on the bill during the first and second special sessions of the legislature, the legislation was introduced last week in the third special session. It was  debated and passed in both chambers on Friday.

Our thanks to TVW for the sound in this story.