- Josh Marcus-Blank
Local Business Owners & Community Leaders Urge Sununu Not To Veto Paid Family & Medical Leave
Concord, N.H. - Today, New Hampshire legislators, local business owners, and paid leave advocates urged Governor Chris Sununu not to veto paid family and medical leave in New Hampshire at events in Plainfield and Portsmouth. Paid leave is increasingly popular among Granite Staters, which is why Governor Sununu lied on the campaign trail last fall and said he would establish a paid leave program. Granite Staters are urging him to change course and sign SB1 to create paid family and medical leave for everyone in New Hampshire.
In Plainfield, Senator Martha Hennessey pointed out that Sununu lied on the campaign trail when he said he believes in paid family and medical leave, since he has refused to engage in good faith negotiations to actually establish it in New Hampshire:
"This is an issue that affects everybody who lives in New Hampshire and every Granite Stater has said that this is an important priority for them. That's why we passed the legislation to establish paid leave last session. And that's why we saw Governor Sununu campaigning on his paid leave "plan" throughout his election. He said it time and time again that he was going to support paid leave. But Governor Sununu's talk is cheap. He vetoed our bipartisan legislation [to establish paid leave] last year and he's threatening, as you just heard, to veto this legislation as well. He has so far been unwilling to support any legislation that establishes real paid leave... And he's suggested, as you just also heard, denying coverage for pre-existing conditions which is a travesty, truly. That's not right and it's not what Granite Staters are looking for."
Amanda Sears of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy pointed out how Sununu's half-baked paid leave plan could actually cause more harm than good, and certainly is not a viable replacement for SB1:
"[Governor Sununu] announced with the Governor of Vermont, what he called the Twin State Voluntary Plan, but even the insurance companies who responded to his request for information from that, you know, raised significant and troubling questions about the feasibility of his plan, saying that the voluntary market would cost more and even suggested things like they would need to do age bans so that it would be more expensive for certain aged people. So, for woman of childbearing age, for instance, and older workers or that they might need to exclude people with the preexisting conditions, under his plan."
In Portsmouth, Senator Martha Fuller Clark called Sununu out for his continued hypocrisy on paid leave:
“You will remember that he vetoed this legislation last year, he referred to it as a “vacation,” which it definitely is not. He said that he was going to work on a paid family leave plan throughout his entire campaign for reelection, and then what we saw, he came forth with a plan that isn’t really viable… We’ve heard very sad stories about individuals who couldn’t be with their spouses at a time when their spouse was dying because they were worried about losing their job. That is not a situation that anyone should have to face.”
Former State Representative Isaac Epstein shared the news that he and his wife are expecting, and emphasized how important paid family and medical leave would be to their growing family:
“I was a state Rep in 2017, and I’ve learned earlier this year that my wife and I are expecting a kid in October, and it’s really amazing how quickly once that happens, issues like paid family leave and education funding become a lot more important to you… I am sick of politicians who say that they’re for family values but then they oppose bills like SB 1 that would help working families… So, I really hope the governor is going to sign this. It’s a modest, incremental, bill that’s not going to cost a lot of money and will do a world of good for this state. If he doesn’t sign it, I’m not sure how much longer he’s going to be governor.”
Chris Muns, the CEO of OneSky Community Service, which employs 70 people in Portsmouth and provides support and services to individuals with developmental disabilities and acquired brain disorders, discussed what paid family and medical leave would mean to him and his business:
“We know that there are people out there that like to work and are capable of working but can’t or are unwilling to do so because they’re concerned about their family situation and they’re worried that if they have to take a day off, they may not be able to or they may lose their job as a result. This type of program - if that can help us hire one or two more people - that’ll be a tremendous asset not only to us, but to the people that we serve… If one of those staff members is not able to come into work for any one of the number of reasons, the family member has to fill the gap and if the family member is not employed by a company that offers paid family leave, they have to make a very difficult decision. They stay home and take care of their loved one and potentially lose their job, or they go to their job and potentially have some harm come to their loved one. It creates a real dilemma for folks.”