Yesterday afternoon, the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee forwarded a sick leave preemption bill — HB 1960 — to the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representative without amendment. I have previously written about this ALEC-initiated bill and a similar one on this blog.
The vote on the amendments and on referral of the bill “as committed” was completely along party lines. All 15 Republicans voted to limit local control and disallow exceptions to the bill for pregnant women and victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; all 10 Democrats voted for the amendments and against the bill.
Now the bill goes to the full floor for debate. In Pennsylvania, bills can be amended from the floor ONLY on “Second Consideration.” And that is expected as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, January 29.
Every legislator—Republican and Democrat—needs to know our concerns about this type of bill.
So in an effort to assist my readers on contacting their representatives about a preemption bill such as this one, I decided to post my letter to Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R-171, Centre & Mifflin Counties) on this blog. FYI, he is a conservative Republican, but is not a member of ALEC.
If you live in Pennsylvania, now is the time for you to write a similar letter OR call your state Representative(click here to find your Representative).
This bill is also being “shopped” around the country by ALEC. So… if you live elsewhere in the country, keep this in mind, as a sick leave preemption bill is likely to show up in your state.
I’m writing to strongly urge that you oppose and vote NO on HB 1960 when it comes up for second consideration as well as on final consideration. Voting and debate on several amendments is expected on the House floor tomorrow, January 29 under the rules for Second Consideration.
I want you to vote NO on HB 1960 because:
- Laws that preempt local decision-making strip cities and counties of their right to adopt policies that will benefit their communities, in violation of core conservative and democratic principles;
- It represents attempts by national businesses to circumvent policy at its most basic level; and
- Local innovation is the lifeblood of progress. Preemption efforts, driven by special interests, should not stand in the way of local innovation or self-rule. Bills like this represent an ominous attempt to remove power from locally elected officials and make the voters mere bystanders in the democratic processes that define the character of their communities.
I’m particularly concerned about its effect on victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. This proposed law will threaten the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who need this form of leave to receive critical services to protect their and their families’ lives – like medical treatment, counseling, and dealing with all court and law enforcement related business. If local communities can’t make laws that allow victims who work for employers with less than 50 employees, you will be potentially sending these victims back into the hands of their violent perpetrators because they will be unable to financially stand on their own two feet.
Even if preemption bills seem to have a narrow focus, passage of this type of legislation could result in preemption of a wide range of local ordinances in municipalities throughout the state. These include efforts to expand protections for those who have experienced domestic violence, laws prohibiting wage theft, consumer protection initiatives, and many more.
Based on all of these concerns, I am therefore also requesting that you vote for any amendment that makes this bill less onerous. I understand that several such amendments will be offered, including ones that
- Allow municipalities to have paid or unpaid leave programs with respect to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Allow municipalities to have paid or unpaid leave programs with respect to maternity leave.
- That grandfather in any existing local ordinance.
Please vote for all of these life-protecting amendments. And when the bill comes up for a final vote, VOTE NO! on HB 1960.
Please let me know what you will do regarding this bill. Thank you.