Will the Legislature pass paid family leave?

Two state representatives.
State Rep. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls and State Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights.
Courtesy photos

If you're lucky enough to work for an employer that offers paid family leave, you know how important that benefit can be. It allows workers to get a paycheck while taking time off around the birth or adoption of a child, or to cope with illness, or care for a sick or injured family member. 

Most working Americans have access to unpaid time off for family and medical needs. But only 1 in 4 workers have paid time off. For years now, some state lawmakers have been trying to change that in Minnesota. 

Democrats in the Minnesota House want to create a new system that works like unemployment insurance. Workers and employers would pay a payroll tax into a fund that would cover everyone. Republicans have resisted that approach and last week suggested another idea — tax credits for businesses to buy a new insurance product that would cover the cost of some workers who take leave. 

MPR News politics editor Mike Mulcahy talks about the different approaches to helping workers tend to medical and family needs. 

Plus, a conversation about school lunches. During the pandemic, emergency federal funding provided free breakfast and lunch for all public school students. Universal free lunch will disappear in June unless state lawmakers decide it’s worth keeping. 

Guests: 

  • Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, is chief author of the DFL payroll tax version of the family leave bill.

  • Rep. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls, is the House author of the GOP bill that would use tax credits and a new insurance product to provide family leave.

  • Leah Gardner is policy director at Hunger Solutions Minnesota. The group represents food banks and food shelves in Minnesota and coordinates a coalition that supports free school meals for all students

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.