Minnesota Republicans unveil family and medical leave plan

Monday, two Minnesota Republican lawmakers announced a new paid family and medical leave plan.

Sen. Julia Coleman (R-Waconia) and Rep. Jordan Rasmusson (R-Fergus Falls) said their proposal would expand access and provide tax incentives to businesses that provide benefits to their employees.

“We have heard from Minnesotans about the need to ensure more Minnesotans have access to paid family and medical leave. Businesses want to offer their employees more, and families need more help. Our proposal meets both needs,” Coleman said in a statement. “It will expand the availability of paid leave across Minnesota, particularly for those who work for small businesses. Businesses can provide a competitive benefit that suits their workforce, and families will have more options to care for their loved ones in a time of need.”

The lawmakers say their plan would create an insurance product to provide for paid family and medical leave insurance so more businesses would be able to use insurance to finance those offerings to employees. It would also provide a tax incentive for businesses with less than 50 employees that provide paid family and medical leave to employees.

The initial plan has a cap of $50 million in tax credits but could be expanded in the future, the lawmakers said, and businesses could receive a tax credit of up to $3,000 per enrolled employee under their plan, they say.

“One of the strongest features of this program is that it is flexible and helps private businesses do what they do best. We don’t need a new government bureaucracy financed by a large tax increase accompanied with stringent mandates and penalties to provide paid leave,” Rasmusson said. “More Minnesotans will have paid family and medical leave if we work together to get this done.”

Minnesota Democrats have said they have prioritized government-mandated family leave.

Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), the author of House Democrats’ family leave plan, issued the following statement on Republicans’ proposal:

“After years of Minnesotans’ advocacy to allow access to Paid Family and Medical Leave, I’m encouraged to learn Senate Republicans are starting to listen to working families about what they need to be economically secure. Nobody should ever have to lose a paycheck to take time off to care for themselves, a new baby, or an ill or aging loved one.

“Unfortunately, the Senate’s proposal to provide leave is a deceptively- veiled scheme that would leave too many Minnesotans out. Their plan doesn’t provide a safety net for the employee in the event of a medical emergency, unexpected injury, or serious illness or pregnancy complication. Furthermore, our current system disproportionally excludes low wage workers from this earned benefit, especially women and workers of color. The Senate’s bill does nothing to extend that financial safety net to those families.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a sustainable solution that delivers the paid time off all working Minnesotans need and deserve.”

Rep. Ruth Richardson