DENVER, Colo. — Last night, the Senate Finance Committee passed SB 251 to start implementing Colorado’s family and medical leave insurance program in accordance with Proposition 118, the ballot initiative that was favored by 58% of the state’s voters in 2020.
“With a 16 point margin of victory, Colorado voters made it clear that paid family and medical leave is a big priority,” said Ashley Panelli, 9to5 Colorado Associate State Director and co-chair of the Prop 118 campaign. “Colorado families are ready to be able to both care for their seriously ill family members and afford rent, groceries and medicine. No one should have to decide what is more important, their paycheck or their loved ones. This legislation will ensure we stay on track to deliver paid leave so that workers no longer have to make these impossible choices ”
Sponsored by Senators Faith Winter and Dominic Moreno and Representatives Matt Gray and Yadira Caraveo, the bill authorizes the transfer of $1.5 million from the general fund to the family and medical leave insurance fund for expenses before premium and bond revenue is available. The loan and accrued interest will be repaid by December 31, 2023.
“Voters understood that paid family and medical leave is good for employers and employees alike,” said Sharon Hwang, owner of The Wellness Center in Denver. “Small business owners are eager for an affordable way to provide paid family and medical leave to their workers – we need this now. Not only is it hard to compete with larger employers on benefits, but we all know our workers have to be focused and productive to help build our businesses, not worried about their loved ones and how to make ends meet.”
The next steps in building Colorado’s paid family and medical leave program include:
- Hiring a director for the FAMLI division within Colorado Department of Labor & Employment
- Issuing revenue bonds to finance the whole program
- Ensuring voters, workers, and business owners provide input for rules and regulations
- Developing a FAMLI Division website for the general public to stay up to date on the status of paid family and medical leave
“This vote honors what Coloradans like me approved in November 2020. I am so grateful the legislature is taking this important step to financially support the start of the paid family and medical leave insurance program,” said Lauren Tomkinson, a CU Boulder staff member and member of United Campus Workers Colorado-CWA Local 7799. “Last summer, I became painfully aware how important paid medical leave is when I developed a spinal tumor that threatened to paralyze me from the waist down. Thankfully, surgeons were able to remove it but I still needed to pay rent during my three month recovery. Paid medical and family leave shouldn’t be a luxury when faced with such a serious medical condition. I was relieved that the majority of Coloradan agreed that establishing a paid family and medical leave program is the smart thing to do.”
9to5 Colorado is a membership organization of working women, dedicated to putting working women’s issues on the public agenda