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  • HB 1398: Paid Family Leave Preemption - The House Floor Vote

    HB 1398: Paid Family Leave Preemption - The House Floor Vote

    Last Friday, February 12, the House of Representatives passed HB 1398. GNDC worked with sponsor Rep. Emily O’Brien (42) to draft this bill, providing regulation consistency across political subdivisions.
    Here is a breakdown of 1398 –

    • Political subdivisions can not determine or mandate what benefits, specific to paid family leave, businesses must provide to their employees.
    • These conversations are not against FMLA or paid family leave but focus the decision to be had at a higher level (state or federal).
    • If businesses want to provide additional benefits or offerings, they have every right to develop tools to recruit or retain their workforce.
    Businesses in our state need consistency. We know businesses operate within multiple political subdivisions - county and city for example. Additionally, some businesses operate in multiple locations – further begging for regulation uniformity across North Dakota. This bill protects employers and employees by providing certainty around the existing state and federal regulations. 

    GNDC caught up with Chamber Champion Emily O’Brien to see what bills she’s been working on. She spoke about 4 bills that have had recent action.

    O'BRIEN: "HB 1456, this bill would provide a sales and use tax exemption for materials used in research and development of bioscience and biotechnology. The United States bioscience industry continues to be a significant economic engine creating high-wage, family-sustaining jobs. Currently, there are two states – Wisconsin and Texas that are using policies such as HB 1456 to make their regions more attractive to bioscience and biotechnology companies to be more attractive to innovators and businesses. I want businesses to consider putting roots and efforts in North Dakota, this would help.
    HB 1368, which addresses tracking devices on motor vehicles. This was a concern brought forth by one of my constituents. I was happy to see the board green light on this one with a unanimous House vote.
    Paid Family Leave Bills, HB 1398 and HB 1441, These bills are important to me because of what they stand for. Let’s talk passion points – my daughter, turning two soon, is the best thing that ever happened to me. Even before her birth, I was all for Family Medical Leave. Family is important and this time provides an opportunity to care for loved ones – of all ages. Those that argue that I don’t support FMLA don’t know me or haven’t looked into the work I’ve done. Last Session, I co-sponsored Rep. Hanson’s bill related to FMLA. Those that continue to question my support seem to forget that. I appreciate my colleagues that are crusading for the rights of families but my hesitation or opposition comes when mandates are imposed. As I’ve stated to these individuals, mandates imposed on businesses can hurt businesses and in doing so also hurt the employees that rely on them. HB 1398 and 1441 are grossly different.
    HB 1398, despite what people say, is not anti–family, it’s anti-irregular regulation. HB 1398, which received bipartisan committee support, provides consistency for businesses and limits a political subdivision from determining what businesses must provide to their employees. In regards to those in opposition who are focusing on misinformation, this bill does not ban a political subdivision’s ability to provide paid leave to their employees. It does limit a political subdivision the ability to further regulate the businesses that reside there.
    HB 1441 provides for a study to look at the feasibility of a paid family leave program and the full financial impact. If we want to provide support for our workforce – employees and employers, alike, we need to do the proper due diligence. A study is the strong first step to ensure sure footing.  
    GNDC: Prior to starting this session, what were your goals?
    To represent the interests of both my constituents. My votes are swayed by the success of individuals and the businesses that operate in District 42. My other goal is to work with those who are also looking to improve their own corner of the world.
    GNDC: How do you feel about legislative process changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic – i.e. livestreaming, remote voting?
    These are great! This opens up the whole process to citizens of our state. This further lets people engage in the votes and laws that will impact their lives. Read the bills, listen to the hearings, check-in on your representation. My only wish, for my own selfish reasons, is that they would have been implemented before, like last session. The work that I started, and finished remotely, could have been completed in entirety.