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Maryland must boost paid family leave beyond federal workforce

More than 2 million federal workers would get 12 weeks paid family leave under a tentative spending deal struck by Congressional leaders that would also create President Trump’s Space Force.
More than 2 million federal workers would get 12 weeks paid family leave under a tentative spending deal struck by Congressional leaders that would also create President Trump’s Space Force. (Miho Aikawa/Getty Images)

The Sun’s editorial, “A miracle of the season: Paid family leave for tens of thousands of Marylanders” (Dec. 11), rightly touts what a boost this policy will be to our state given the large number of federal workers who live in Maryland. Yet, this is only a baby step toward passage of a comprehensive national paid family leave program. In Maryland, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap beginning next month in Annapolis.

The Maryland General Assembly will again consider the “Time to Care Act” legislation to establish a paid family leave insurance program, as eight other states and our neighbors in the District of Columbia have done already. This would be far more comprehensive than the act for federal employees. It would provide workers with partial wage replacement for up to 12 weeks away from work to care not only for a new child but also for a seriously ill family member, or for their own serious health condition.

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Last year, the “Time to Care Act” made significant progress, with 45 co-sponsors in the House and 15 in the Senate. The support of these legislators echoed what they were hearing from their constituents. Polling earlier this year by the Opinion Works firm shows that an overwhelming 86% of Maryland voters favor creation of Paid Family Leave insurance program. This support crosses party lines, generations and demographic groups. In all regions of the state, support for paid family leave never falls below 85%. This may be even more remarkable: When told that the program would be funded by a $3 to $5 per week paycheck deduction, the support of Maryland voters holds firm at 79%.

Maryland workers can’t wait for another miracle. It’s past time for the General Assembly to pass this critical legislation. No one should have to choose between the job they need and the family they love. We all need time to care. The time to act is now.

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Laura Weeldreyer, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Family Network.

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