Colorado Democrats are backing a heavily-amended version of a bill to create a paid family leave program.
The bill stalled in the Senate Finance Committee last month over concerns from business leaders and some Democratic lawmakers. But a series of 24 amendments have gotten some of the Democratic holdouts on board, and the committee voted along party lines to advance the proposal.
It still requires all employees to pay into the program. That means a worker who makes $50,000 a year would pay about $3.46 a week in premiums. Employers would also pitch in.
Employees could take paid time off work to bond with a newborn or care for a sick parent.
The biggest changes include letting businesses opt out of the state program if they have a paid leave program of their own. The sponsors have also cut the maximum amount of leave from 16 weeks to 12.
Finally, Democrats are delaying creation of the program until 2023.
Democratic Senator Nancy Todd of Aurora has been on the fence about the bill.
“This has been a monumental bill,” she said Tuesday.
Todd said she would have voted ‘no’ at the bill’s first hearing. But she said the amendment to delay implementation of the program helped earn her support.
“The one assurance I have is that the implementation is not immediate,” she said. “I will continue to challenge to make sure we are being fiscally sound as we move forward.”
Republicans in the Senate continue to oppose the bill. Sen. Rob Woodward tried to amend it so voters would decide whether to create the leave program.
And Sen. Paul Lundeen has said it could hurt small businesses. With just 23 days left in the legislative session, any delay or more opposition could leave the bill without enough time to pass.
The legislation now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review. It still needs to clear debate on the Senate floor and then head over to the House for consideration.
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