Montana Legislature Debates Creating State Fund for Paid Leave

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – Montana employees could received paid medical or family leave through a statewide fund if a new bill introduced to the Legislature becomes law.

Representative Moffie Funk from Helena is sponsoring House Bill 208, which would couple an initial state investment with matched employer and employee contributions to create the fund. Funk says Montana needs to incentivize workers to stay in the state.

“Montana is facing a work shortage and we need to do whatever we can to keep our people in this state. And, with wages being what they are, being able to offer this benefit is a great step in the right direction.”

Ronda Wiggers with the Helena Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill. She says the guidelines on who can access the fund and for what reason, like being able to take time off to care for people who aren’t related, aren’t strict enough to sustain the fund.

“We believe that it’s broad enough that you’re going to run out of money. This amount of money would not fund this program. And, we’ll be back here in two years wanting to know what to do about the people who paid into it. But, then, when they went to get benefits, the benefits weren’t there for them because they were allocated out to other people.”

Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports, the House Business and Labor Committee did not immediately vote on the bill Monday.

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