Concord, N.H. – The New Hampshire Senate voted 14-10 today to send HB 628 to interim study. The bill, a popular bi-partisan proposal to enact a family and medical leave insurance program previously had passed the House in three separate votes.
Amanda Sears, Director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy shared frustration on behalf of the more than 25,000 supporters of the Campaign’s goal to enact workplace policies that advance the state’s economy and improve the lives of working families. “Shame on Governor Sununu for turning his back on New Hampshire families. His empty campaign promise to support paid family and medical leave proved nothing but a political stunt. The Governor stayed firmly on the sidelines throughout the bill’s thoughtful deliberation through the House, waiting only until the bi-partisan bill showed tremendous progress to step in and pressure senate republicans to squash the effort. Sending the bill for further study simply is a polite way to defeat this bill. Shame on the senate republicans who ignored overwhelming public support and instead bowed to the Governor’s pressure.”
The Campaign recently released a story album, New Hampshire Voices on Paid Family and Medical Leave featuring personal experiences of people across the state whose lives have been affected by family and medical leave. Supporters delivered the albums to Governor Sununu and state senators yesterday. Today, all ten democratic senators spoke in strong support of the policy and read several of the stories aloud from the album.
Senator Dan Feltes shared the story of Kurt Sundstrom of Concord who did not have access to paid family and medical leave when his wife was suffering from terminal cancer, reading a quote that Kurt had shared before the Senate Finance Committee, “When all you want to do is huddle with family and take advantage of every last minute you have left together, being compelled to work a full-time job in order to maintain financial solvency is the cruelest demand I could have imagined.”
Senator Donna Soucy read aloud the story of Salem resident Regan Burke and her son Ethan who suffered a major stroke when he was three. Neither of Ethan’s parents had access to family and medical leave, so they each had to return to work while their child was still dangerously ill and in the hospital. “Give these families an option and pass this legislation today, New Hampshire families deserve this,” said Soucy.
Senator Feltes urged his peers to be “on the right side of history”, explaining, “this is going to happen, let’s make it happen today. Working families have had this policy studied for 20 years, it’s time to move forward.”
The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy has pledged to continue efforts to pass a family and medical leave policy in the future, “We’re not going away and we’re not giving up. New Hampshire workers and businesses alike understand this bi-partisan, common sense solution helps New Hampshire’s aging workers stay in our workforce longer, increases success rates for our neighbors struggling with substance use disorder, and leads to higher workforce participation among new parents. It’s not every day a policy comes along that would boost our economy while providing real and tangible support for working families. The majority of lawmakers wasted an opportunity today to show real leadership but I’m confident voters will keep this in mind come November and will be looking for candidates who are interested in representing the will of New Hampshire,” said Sears.