Minnesota House approves paid family leave bill

House lawmakers have approved a state-run paid family and medical leave program in Minnesota.

The bill was passed Tuesday night on a 68 to 64 vote.

When Gen Zers think about moving to a different state, access to paid family medical leave is one of their top considerations, according to Minnesota House Democrats. So the DFL is trying to make the state more attractive.

"The goal of this plan is to extend the most even safety net across the entire state," said Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, the author of HF 2.

Rep. Richardson’s bill would now allow up to 12 weeks of partial payments each year to people who need family bonding with a new child or who have a serious medical condition.

People experiencing both situations can get an extra six weeks of leave, and women with pregnancy complications would be eligible for still another six weeks, for a total of 24 weeks of benefits.

House Democrats reduced the number of weeks of paid family leave in all but the most extreme cases in an attempt to get more support.

Republicans say they like the idea of paid family and medical leave, but they prefer a privately-run program.

"The way the governor and the senate and the house are going about it right now is creating huge bureaucracies, huge costs," said Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, and the minority leader.

The House bill would create at least 300 new positions with the state.

It calls for a $686 million kickstarter from the budget surplus and then would fund itself with a small payroll tax.

The public plan would start distributing benefits in July 2025 while Republicans say their private plan could start this coming January.

But some business owners still believe the public plan is better than any private option.

"The best option would cost 50% more than this proposal, offers only six weeks off, excludes coverage for cancer, no maternity leave for adoption, no paternity leave, and would require a health screening," said Sarah Piepenburg, who owns Vinaigrette, a health foods store in Minneapolis.

The House and Senate bills are slightly different with the Senate maxing out benefits at 20 weeks, for example, so a conference committee will hammer out the final details.