Advocacy groups urge lawmakers to override paid family leave veto

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MONTPELIER,VT- On Friday January 31st, Governor Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would establish a statewide paid family leave program. In his veto letter Scott said he would move forward with his own voluntary paid family and medical leave program.

The veto letter stated, “Our approach is voluntary for employers and employees. It can be accomplished more efficiently, affordably and quickly, without a $29 million payroll tax that Vermont workers simply should not be burdened with, and without putting the risk of underfunding on taxpayers.

On Tuesday, advocates and lawmakers discussed overriding that veto at the state house. Vermont National Education Association, AARP, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility held a conference to urge the house to override the governor’s veto.

Jen Kimmich is the CEO and cofounder of The Alchemist. She is one of the many advocates for paid family and medical leave who spoke at the state house on Tuesday.

“Let’s override this veto and make this policy a reality for Vermont families and businesses. Now is the time for us all to come together,” said Kimmich.

Many advocates talked about the importance of mothers being able to be with their babies and the importance of taking care of yourself or a loved one.

“Family caregivers face considerable physical and emotional challenges in caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones. Putting their jobs at risk or straining the family budget only adds to this burden,” said Linda Bowden, AARP Vermont state president.

This is the second time a paid family leave bill was vetoed. Democratic representative Sarah Copeland Hanzas is a sponsor on the bill and explained that amendments were made to the bill since it was first introduced at a previous session. She thought compromises might change the governor’s mind.

“There were a lot of compromises that were made along the path of this bill from a way we introduced it at the beginning of last session up until now and I was really hopeful that those compromises might indicate to the governor that we were coming in his direction,” said Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas.

 Some lawmakers are looking forward to taking action to override the governor’s veto.

“My hope is that the house will be able to override it and I’m going to do everything I can on the senate side to do the same,” said Senate president pro tem Tim Ashe.

Senator Ashe talked about how an override vote should no longer be about the specifics of the bill, but about having the benefit of family leave or not.

“Do you get your preferred version of a paid family leave bill or the one that the house and senate conferees agreed too? It’s do you want what they agreed to or do you want nothing,” said Senator Ashe.

For more information on the bill click here

For more information on the governor’s veto click here.

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