The controversial paid sick days bill moved forward Tuesday when the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee sent it to the Senate floor by a vote of 6 to 4.
The bill will require companies with more than 50 employees to give their employees up to 5 days of paid sick time per year.
It passed mostly along party lines, with the exception of Rep. Ernest Hewett, a Democrat from New London, who voted against it.
Before the vote Tuesday lawmakers briefly debated the bill. Rep. Selim Noujaim, R-Waterbury, said it will only add more mandates on employers at a time they can least afford it.
“We need to help employers so they can help return us to prosperity,” Noujaim said.
One of the bill’s main proponents, Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, said she didn’t think Noujaim’s criticism of the bill was accurate.
She said as legislators they may find it hard to understand what it means to lose a day of pay because they are sick or their child is sick.
“We are in a very comfortable position so it may be difficult for some legislators to imagine what it’s like to not have paid sick time,” Prague said. “This is America where we care about other people.”
The legislature has failed to pass similar legislation over the past few years. In fact, no state has passed this type of legislation. But their efforts have prompted Connecticut’s Congressional delegation to introduce similar legislation in Congress.
“Connecticut was the first state in the nation to see a bill like this pass one of our legislative chambers, and with today’s vote we are now one step closer to seeing it become law,” U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd said in a press release Tuesday. “No one should have to choose between their job and their health or that of their family. And thanks to the leadership of people like Edith Prague, Rosa, and my late friend Ted Kennedy, they hopefully won’t have to make that unfair choice for much longer.”