In a move that was anticipated both by the proponents and opponents of the paid sick days legislation, the Labor and Public Employees Committee passed the measure by a one vote margin after a lengthy debate on past promises.
The committee voted 6 to 5 mostly along party lines. Rep. Ernest Hewett, D-New London, cast the lone Democratic vote against the bill Thursday. Hewett has opposed the bill in the past so his vote against it was not unexpected.
The bill now moves to the Senate where it’s likely to be sent back to a few more committees before it’s debated by that body. To watch the replay of the committee meeting click here.
Jon Green, executive director of the Working Families Party, said Thursday’s committee vote was a “good positive, unsurprising first step.”
He said at the public hearing Wednesday the committee members who attended heard testimony not only from workers, but from employers who were in favor of the bill.
“Some businesses may have an old-fashioned view that anything that is good for employees is necessarily costly for employers,“ Louis Lista, owner of the Pond House in West Hartford, wrote in testimony he submitted to the committee. “But I think my business serves to prove that this is not a zero-sum game, and that providing decent benefits like paid sick days, even to workers in the food service industry, can pay real dividends for a business.”
Kia Murrell, assistant counsel for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, points out that there was also plenty of employer opposition to the measure Wednesday.
Mike DeVivo, owner of J and M Safety Consulting LLC, told the committee that it will increase the cost of doing business and will force employers to consider cutting back on other benefits they currently offer their employees.
“Increased regulations will hamper many businesses that I provide services for,” DeVivo told the committee in his written testimony.
This is at least the third time proponents of the bill have tried to get it passed in the Senate first and the House second.
Green joked Thursday that if they only lose one-seventh of the House vote like they lost one seventh of the committee vote then they’ll be fine and Connecticut will be the first state in the nation to adopt mandated paid sick time for companies with more than 50 employees.
The committee vote which took a few seconds Thursday was delayed for most of the afternoon because the Democrats first wanted to limit debate to 30-minutes per bill, then Republicans remembered they were promised public hearings on prevailing wage, collective bargaining, and binding arbitration and hadn’t gotten them yet. So they held up the committee process until Democrats agreed to a public hearing on all three of the topics. Democrats in the end agreed to the public hearings and the voting proceeded as planned.