- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada would become the eighth state in the U.S. requiring many private companies to give workers paid sick leave under a bill passed by state senators Tuesday.

Businesses with 50 or more employees that have operated in the state for one year would be required to give workers at least 24 hours, equivalent to three work days, of sick paid sick leave a year with full pay. Workers would become eligible for the benefit after three months on the job.

The legislation excludes government, administrative, construction, temporary, nonprofit, religious and certain hospital workers.

The Democratic-led Senate passed the bill 12-9 along party lines, with one independent senator in favor. It goes next to the Assembly, also controlled by Democrats.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval did not say outright what action he would take on the bill, but said he has serious concerns about any policy that could discourage economic growth or harm Nevada’s business-friendly reputation.

“Paid benefits are a business decision that are an incentive to attract talent,” Sandoval said in a statement emailed Tuesday evening. “Government mandates are not the right policies for our state during a time of economic recovery and growth.”

Senate Bill 196 would allow workers to take the paid time off to visit doctors, see therapists or care for a sick family or household members. The sick days could also be used to attend court proceedings related to domestic violence or sexual assault.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, a Las Vegas Democrat and lead bill sponsor, said he worked with local chamber of commerce groups and religious organizations to draft exemptions for small businesses and charitable groups. He said companies would be forced to comply with the proposed law if they employ 50 people for 20 weeks in a two-year period.

“This bill has been an effort in compromise,” Ford said.

Bill opponent Sen. James Settelmeyer, a Republican from the town of Minden 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Lake Tahoe, said state lawmakers should stay out of business decisions and let free market forces decide them.

Qualified businesses that deny workers paid sick leave could be fined $5,000 per violation by the state labor commissioner.

Seven U.S. states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws over the last six years mandating paid sick leave in the private sector, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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