Paid Family Leave

When Brittany Pettersen, a Colorado state senator, gave birth to a boy in January, she became only the second lawmaker in the state to have a baby during a legislative season.

The first, Sen. Barbara Holme, delivered just two days before lawmakers adjourned nearly 40 years ago. But because she was part of a Democratic minority at the time, no one worried much about the votes Holme was missing, much less her need for paid maternity leave.

Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage

One of the biggest and most consequential battles of the 2020 legislative session is expected to start this week, once Democrats unveil their latest plan to create a statewide paid family leave program.

The bill's sponsors had to make some big concessions to try and get the measure passed this time around. A year ago, their last effort failed due to opposition from the business community and Gov. Jared Polis.

Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage

Colorado's legislative session is just over two weeks old, and lawmakers have already introduced more than 270 bills and counting. With hundreds more bills expected to land in the coming weeks, here are some of the ones we are starting to watch at the state Capitol.

Colorado Senate
Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

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.

Colorado Senate
Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

As Sen. Faith Winter pushes forward a bill to create a paid family leave program, she's thinking of employees who are stuck at work during some of the most challenging moments of their lives.

"We have cancer patients who are skipping their second round of chemotherapy because they can't afford to lose their paycheck," Winter said Monday. "And there's a heartbreaking story of a woman who took her dad off life support in a break room instead of being by her father's side."

In New Hampshire, there's no requirement that employers offer paid leave to workers who are caring for newborns or taking care of elderly parents.

Wendy Chase campaigned last fall for a seat in the state House promising to change that — and won.

"This is my first term, and I'm not a politician. I'm just a mom on a mission," she says.

Andres Chaparro/Pexels

Six states currently have paid family leave policies on the books. If Colorado passes a similar policy, the average worker would receive an average weekly benefit of about $671. That's according to a recent study published by the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work in collaboration with the Colorado Women’s College.