RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia House Republicans rejected two senate bills to establish required family and medical leave in the commonwealth, putting an end to this year’s efforts to expand available paid leave.
SB 1101, patroned by Senator Jennifer Boysko (D – Fairfax), would have established a universal family and medical leave program through the Virginia Employment Commission, allowing all Virginia workers to receive 12 weeks of leave at 80% of their normal pay.
When Boysko appeared before the House Committee on Commerce and Energy on February 16, she seemed resigned to a pre-determined outcome.
“I know what’s happening today, and I think it’s really sad,” she said. “But I’m gonna continue to advocate for paid family and medical leave for all people.”
Delegate Kathy Byron (R – Lynchburg), who chairs the committee, said she preferred not to mandate the program to businesses, and would instead wait to see the results of a private option pushed by Republicans.
“I’m very anxious to see how our new private insurance is going to work with our businesses, where they’re not mandated to provide leave,” she said.
The panel also shut down a bill from Senator Scott Surovell (D – Fairfax) that would have required grocery stores and medical facilities to provide paid sick leave to workers.
“This is only for grocery store and healthcare workers, and the reason I selected them is because these people, as we found out during the pandemic, are right on the front line,” he said. “They’re seeing sick people every day. If they don’t have sick leave and they feel compelled to work, they may be spreading illness.”
That bill ultimately failed to move out of committee as well.