Bismarck, ND – Yesterday, in a 22-25 vote, the ND Senate struck down HB 1441, which would have directed legislative management to consider studying a voluntary paid family leave program. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Karla Rose Hanson (D-Fargo), earlier passed the ND House on a 75-18 vote. All 25 votes against the bipartisan legislation were cast by Republican senators. These same senators tout a pro-life and pro-family agenda to the very constituents who cover their paid family leave benefits.
Job Service ND reports that just 12% of companies offer maternity leave and 6% offer paternity leave, which are even more limited programs than paid family leave. Additionally, 31% of ND employers do not offer sick leave to their full-time employees. Research from other states is clear. It shows that businesses that offer paid leave realize increases in recruitment, retention, productivity, and profitability. They avoid the costs of replacing and re-training employees.
As the state of ND continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and dig deeper into a workforce development crisis, the benefits of a paid family leave program cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, this outcome highlights the troubling trend of pushing partisan, extreme, often unconstitutional bills to address non-issues during this legislative session – while ignoring solutions to real-life, every day challenges faced by North Dakota families and small businesses.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Erin Oban (D-Bismarck), said:
“Family taking care of family is what North Dakotans value, but today, a majority of the North Dakota Senate refused to answer their own questions on if an opt-in program could work. We complain about workforce shortages, and we call ourselves pro-family, but our leaders are unwilling to even study an option that’s proven to be both. North Dakotan families will be disappointed that they have to wait even longer for paid family leave because of today’s vote.”