Senate Bill 1, the bill that will provide all Delawareans with paid family and medical leave, did not get released from committee or considered on the floor of the Senate prior to the close of the 2021 part of the General Assembly session. Which is not bad news, since it is a big bill that was just introduced in May.
And in fact, when the General Assembly passed the Bond Bill at the end of June, they including $10 million in funding for paid leave, an indication that the leadership expects that the bill will be considered and passed by the General Assembly when it reconvenes in January.
Senator Sarah McBride, the prime sponsor of the bill: “Moments ago, the state’s largest infrastructure and jobs bill in history was signed into law. I’m thrilled to say that $10 million was included in the legislation to help cover the start up infrastructure for a paid family and medical leave program should the General Assembly pass the Healthy Delaware Families Act next year.”
“I’m incredibly grateful for the unwavering support of the chairs of the Joint Capital Improvement Committee, Senator Nicole Poore and Rep. Debra Heffernan, and the Leadership in the majority caucuses in the General Assembly. Right now, President Biden is fighting to pass the American Families Plan, which includes a national paid leave proposal. In the coming weeks, we will learn the details of that bill and, in the coming months, we will learn its fate. This funding preserves and enhances our ability in Delaware to pass paid family and medical leave when we return to session next year should a federal program not pass Congress. Ultimately, whether Delawareans secure this lifesaving benefit through federal or state action, the only unacceptable outcome is that Delaware families go without paid leave.”
The Delaware Cares Coalition issued the following statement at the end of the session in June:
“Pass the Healthy Delaware Families Act in January. Our families and our future depend on it.”
“Delawareans made clear this legislative session that paid family and medical leave is key to our economic recovery through this pandemic and beyond. We are thrilled to see that with the passage of the FY 2022 Bond Bill, $10 million has been set aside should the General Assembly approve the Healthy Delaware Families Act, SB 1, next year – and they must. This inclusion is a direct result of the thousands of Delawareans who signed petitions, contacted their legislators, shared their stories and joined our movement to make Delaware the 10th state to pass paid family and medical leave.
“So while we have much to celebrate, the work remains unfinished when thousands of Delawareans today are continuing to make impossible choices between their job, their health and their family. Those Delawareans simply cannot wait another year for this bill to pass. After a year of such hardship, paid family and medical leave is part of the solution that will give every Delawarean the chance to live, work, and thrive in the First State.
“The Delaware Cares Coalition is calling on the General Assembly to deliver for Delaware working families by passing the Healthy Delaware Families Act as soon as they return in January. Our families and our future depend on it.”
Putting Paid Leave On The Map In 2021:
The 2021 legislative session saw a groundswell of grassroots support for paid family and medical leave. The need for paid leave policies that recognize the challenges and the opportunities of our changing economy has been a central focus throughout the legislative session:
- In February, over 25 health, faith, labor, business and community organizations launched the Delaware Cares Coalition to pass paid family & medical leave in the First State. That coalition has since grown to over 50 organizations.
- In March, the Delaware Office of Women’s Advancement & Advocacy released its “Sounding the Alarm: the Impact of COVID-19 on Delaware Women” report, which included paid family & medical leave as its top recommendation to address the disproportionate burden working women faced from the pandemic.
- In April, Delaware’s Senate Leadership released an Op-Ed calling for a paid family and medical leave program, stating it would have a “profound impact on the quality of life in our state.” Shortly after, the Delaware Academy of Medicine – Delaware Public Health Association released a statement endorsing paid family & medical leave as a “public health imperative.”
- In May, Senator Sarah McBride, Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, Representative Debra Heffernan and Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst unveiled the Healthy Delaware Families Act, SB 1, with 13 sponsors in the Senate and 18 in the House. The press conference unveiling the legislation included impacted workers, business, health and advocacy leaders who stressed the urgent need for paid family & medical leave.
- In June, over 40 groups co-signed a letter to Governor John Carney urging him to support and prioritize the Healthy Delaware Families Act, SB 1. Weeks later, the Delaware legislature set aside $10 million for a statewide paid family and medical leave program start-up funding should the General Assembly approve such a measure when they reconvene next year.
|Senate Bill 1 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|S.McBride, Townsend, Brown, Gay, Mantzavinos, Pinkney, Hansen, Lockman, Paradee, Poore, Sokola, Sturgeon, Walsh|
|Heffernan, Longhurst, Baumbach, Brady, Dorsey Walker, Morrison, Osienski, Bentz, Bolden, Chukwuocha, Griffith, K.Johnson, Lambert, Lynn, Minor-Brown, Mitchell, S.Moore, Wilson-Anton|
|Current Status — Senate Health & Social Services 5/5/21|