Correction: Paid Family Leave story

By CORY DAWSONMarketsAssociated Press

In a story May 2 about a debate in the Vermont Legislature on paid family leave, The Associated Press attributed a quotation to the wrong lawmaker. The comment was made by Democratic Rep. Theresa Wood, not Democratic Rep. Barbara Rachelson.

A corrected version of the story is below:

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Vermont House passes paid family leave after marathon debate

An effort in Vermont's House to pass a statewide paid family leave bill survived last-minute pushes by Republicans to weaken and bury the measure


Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — An effort in Vermont's Democrat-controlled House to pass a statewide paid family leave bill Tuesday survived hours of debate and last-minute pushes by Republicans to weaken it.

But the measure is not likely to go any further this year because there's not enough time left in the legislative session for the Senate to debate it.

Under the bill, Vermont workers who also get unemployment insurance would pay for the program through a payroll tax. Lawmakers rejected an effort by Republican Rep. Anne Donahue to make the program voluntary.

Fellow Republicans who supported the amendment argued that people should not be taxed if they choose not to participate.

"My constituents ... are sick and tired of having something driven down their throats by the state of Vermont," Republican Rep. Brian Savage said.

The measure has been watered down significantly from its original form, which provided for 12 weeks of leave for parental, family or disability leave. The approved version provides for six weeks of leave with workers paid 80 percent of their salary during that time. The bill no longer includes the disability reason.

It would be paid for by a 0.141 percent payroll tax to cover the $17 million annual cost of the program.

Democrats said the program is invaluable to people who are suffering from family issues they cannot control, and that having a strong family leave policy would incentivize workers to come to Vermont.

"This is six weeks of paid leave to bond with a newborn or to take care of a dying parent and a dying spouse," said Democratic Rep. Theresa Wood. "We talk about needing young families in our state. This legislation is not only right for Vermonters, it is an economic development bill."

The measure will be sent to the Senate. But with just days left in the session, the chamber will not likely take it up until January, when lawmakers return.