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DC Council Set To Pass Most Generous Family Leave Law In The Country

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Officials are proposing the most generous paid family leave program in the U.S. for anyone who works in Washington, D.C.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson released the details of the contentious proposal Monday ahead of the first scheduled vote next week. Mendelson has been developing the legislation for nearly a year and kept details of the proposal secret, eliciting criticism from Mayor Muriel Bowser. The proposal grants anyone living or working in the District 11-weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child funded through a payroll tax hike on D.C. businesses, reports WJLA.

Unlike states where employees contribute in part to paid leave programs, the District’s would be the first in the U.S. to be paid for fully by taxes on businesses.

“There’s nobody on the D.C. Council who has ever signed the front of a paycheck, and they have no clue about the challenges that local, small businesses confront as a result of their actions,” Mark Lee, executive director of the D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association, told WJLA. “Quite honestly, most of the time we don’t think they even care.”

Bowser criticized the legislative process of the bill and questioned the wisdom of paying workers who live outside the city with District funds. The bill is expected to pass in the Council but it is unclear if Bowser will attempt a veto of the legislation. (RELATED: DC Democrats Spar Over ‘Extravagant’ Paid Family Leave Proposal)

“The Mayor looks forward to reviewing Chairman Mendelson’s full proposal once it is released to the public, however, without the full details she remains concerned that the legislation does not go far enough in putting D.C. families first,” Kevin Harris, communication director for the mayor, said in a statement. “This is about fairness, and if we are going to raise a quarter of a billion dollars in new taxes each year, then D.C. families should be the primary beneficiaries.”

The program allows workers to collect 90 percent of their salaries while on leave, capping the weekly benefits at $1,000. Each spouse in a marriage can request the paid leave within a year of childbirth or adoption. Workers are also eligible under the plan for eight weeks of paid leave to care for a sick relative.

The payroll tax will rise by 0.62 percent or roughly $250 million annually to fund the costly program.

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