Kentucky Politics

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers is proposing a bill to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave to state workers.

The bill would apply to both birth and adoptive parents, and men and women.

The legislation would give parents peace of mind in the first months of having a new baby, said Rep. Josie Raymond, a Democrat from Louisville.

“I came to this issue because I had three babies at three employers and I got one paid leave,” she said. “And I knew in that situation I was calmer, I was more secure, I was more loyal to the employer.” 

Studies show that parents who are given paid leave are more active in their children’s lives, even beyond the time off.

Though the federal Family and Medical Leave Act gives some new parents 12 weeks of leave after having a child, it doesn’t require the time off to be paid.

Eight states and Washington D.C. have paid family leave laws on the books, some other ones have instituted the policy by executive order.

Last December President Trump signed a law providing 12 weeks of paid leave for most federal employees after the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.

It’s time for Kentucky to pass its own policy, said Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville.

“This is Kentucky getting on board with what Republicans and Democrats are doing across the country and in Washington,” he said. “It’s good we can find a bill that is bipartisan at the national level and certainly at the state as well.” 

Raymond and Nemes presented the bill to the state legislature’s Interim Committee on State Government, it will be considered during next year’s legislative session.

Raymond has also proposed a bill to require businesses with 50 employees or more to provide paid parental leave. She proposed a similar measure during this year’s legislative session, but it did not receive a hearing.

The next legislative session begins on January 5.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.