Parental leave bill advances in House
The Colorado House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would bring back the state’s parental leave act, which expired in September.
Democrats, who support HB1002 and enacted the law in 2009 at a time when they held full control of the Legislature, said it’s an important law to keep because parents need to be involved in their children’s education.
Republicans, who killed a similar bill last year to continue the law, said it’s not needed, saying it also places an unfair burden on businesses.
Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said the state’s economy has done well since 2009, unemployment is low, Colorado has consistently been ranked high as a favorable place to do business, and leads the nation in job growth and business development.
“All these statistics and all these rankings have happened when the bill that we’re discussing was on the books,” he said. “So how can we argue that it’s bad for business?”
Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, said the bill isn’t needed because most businesses already give their employees time off to attend events for their children.
He said that’s something that has been, and should continue, to be between an employer and an employee. He said in most cases, employers allow their workers to negotiate between themselves when someone needs time off, and cover for each other as needed.
“So the agreement is, you sometimes can work that out, you can substitute for somebody, sometimes you can bring in another employee, sometimes you can’t,” he said. “The problem with making it mandatory then, if an employee can just walk off the job and shut that machine down or shut a production line down, it is very costly to the company, and eventually it’s costly to the employees.”
The bill, which is limited to academic events and in how much unpaid time a parent can take, requires a final House vote that could come as early as today. If it passes, its fate in the GOP-controlled Senate is uncertain.