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House gives initial approval to family leave bill

January 9, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire workers would be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave under a bill that won preliminary approval in the House on Tuesday.

The House voted 183-151 in favor of the bill, which would be paid for via a voluntary contribution from employees equal to half a percent of their wages. Participants would be eligible for 60 percent of their pay during time taken off for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, a serious illness not related to employment or the serious illness of a spouse or certain other relatives.

Supporters said such a program is essential to strengthening the state’s workforce, caring for an aging population and supporting recovery from the opioid epidemic.

“Is that our idea of a family-friendly economy, making families rack up their credit card debt? Use up their vacation days for childbirth or family emergencies?” said Rep. Brian Stone, R-Northwood. “Do we really think someone is going to focus on their job with a major family emergency going on or if their newborn is still in the hospital?”

Opponents said the program amounts to an income tax and is unsustainable.

The bill goes to the House Commerce Committee next.

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