By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Legislature has given final approval to a bill that would guarantee workers as many as 12 weeks of paid family leave, but its future is uncertain.

The Vermont House gave final approval to the billion Thursday after lawmakers in the chamber agreed to a version given final approval by the Senate this month.

“The strong support from both chambers in the legislature shows what a priority this is for communities across the state,” Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said in a written statement. “Passing this bill into law will make Vermont the eighth state to implement a paid family and medical leave program and is a critical piece in recruiting and retaining a workforce in Vermont.”

Proponents say the bill is needed to help recruit and retain workers in Vermont.

The bill guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid parental or bonding leave and up to eight weeks of paid family care leave. The bill also contains the opportunity for individuals to opt in to a personal medical leave policy for up to weeks.

But Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who is supporting a voluntary paid family leave program, said during his budget speech on Tuesday that the $29 million payroll tax the Legislature’s version would require is too much.

“He believes the voluntary approach he put forward – which uses the state employee base to establish a coverage pool that would then be open to all employers and individuals to opt-in to purchasing coverage – is the fastest, most affordable way to make paid family leave universally available to Vermonters,” Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said in an email.

The bill passed the Senate had a veto-proof majority, but not the vote in the House.

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