Pennsylvania Lawmakers Rally for Groundbreaking Family Care Act

Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery)Submitted Image

HARRISBURG, PA — In a significant gathering at the Pennsylvania State Capitol’s Main Rotunda yesterday, Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery) and a coalition of legislators, advocates, and stakeholders convened to advocate for the advancement of the Pennsylvania Family Care Act (SB580), a piece of legislation poised to transform the landscape of family and medical leave in the state.

Senate Bill 580, which seeks to establish the Pennsylvania Family and Medical Leave Program alongside a dedicated Family and Medical Leave Fund, represents a pivotal moment for working families across the Commonwealth. The bill, currently under review by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee since March 28, 2024, aims to provide Pennsylvanians with the financial means to take necessary time off from work to care for themselves or loved ones without the burden of lost income.

Senator Collett, who has championed the Family Care Act since 2019, emphasized the importance of this legislation in ensuring that no working family has to choose between their health and their livelihood. “Every working family should have the freedom to care for themselves and their loved ones without having to sacrifice their ability to afford basic necessities,” she stated, highlighting the act’s potential to offer much-needed relief to Pennsylvanians.

The proposed program, inspired by similar initiatives in other states, would allow workers to contribute small deductions from their weekly earnings into an insurance fund. Managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the fund would be accessible to eligible employees facing serious health conditions, welcoming a new child into their family, or dealing with exigent circumstances related to military service.

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The press conference featured a broad array of voices in support of the bill, including Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny), Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny), and representatives from various advocacy groups and professional organizations. These speakers underscored the bill’s bipartisan appeal and its importance to families and workers throughout Pennsylvania.

Dan O’Brien of Children First and Co-Chair of the Family Care Coalition, along with Josie Badger of J. Badger Consulting and Maurice Cobb of United Steelworkers District 10, shared personal testimonies and expert insights on the critical need for a comprehensive family and medical leave policy. Dr. Amaka Nnamani, representing the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, lent a medical perspective to the discussion, highlighting the health benefits such a program could offer to families and children.

As the Pennsylvania Family Care Act continues its journey through the legislative process, its supporters remain hopeful that the Senate will recognize the urgency of this issue and move swiftly to pass the bill. With Speaker McClinton’s leadership, the PA House has already shown a willingness to advance similar legislation, setting the stage for what could be a landmark achievement in worker’s rights and family welfare in Pennsylvania.

If enacted, the Family Care Act would mark a significant milestone in the state’s commitment to supporting its workforce, providing a safety net that allows individuals to care for their families without fear of financial instability. This initiative not only promises to bolster the well-being of Pennsylvania’s residents but also sets a precedent for compassionate and comprehensive labor policies nationwide.

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