DC Council to Revisit New Paid Family Leave Law

WASHINGTON — Just days after Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed a generous paid family leave bill to take effect, D.C. Council members say they are willing to revisit the policy and possibly make changes to lessen the burden on businesses.

“We’re open to more discussion,” said Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. “I expect that there will be a couple of bills introduced in the next month.”

As it stands, benefits in the law would be funded through a 0.62 percent tax on all D.C. businesses, but the council is now examining possible alternatives for the financing mechanism that could reduce the tax rate, according to Mendelson.

“There is a lot of upset over the tax,” he said. “We’re certainly willing to discuss alternative financing proposals.”

Taxing businesses is expected to generate $250 million annually.

The D.C. business community has largely been opposed to the measure, as has Bowser, who refused to sign it, allowing it to become law without her signature last week.

Bowser has called the bill’s tax a burden on businesses, and she has been a vocal critic of the fact that much of the money generated by the new tax would benefit people who work in the District but live elsewhere.

“It is wrong to raise District taxes to fund a costly, new government program that sends 66 percent of the benefits outside of the city, and leaves District families behind,” Bowser said December in a statement, when the council passed the measure 9 to 4.

Mendelson, a strong proponent of the law, said he is not “bowing to pressure” from the mayor or other opponents with his willingness to make changes.

“This is reasonable that we don’t shut the door and say ‘we got it perfect,'” he said. “The value is different stakeholders sitting down around the table and probing what works and doesn’t work.”

The law provides up to eight weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. It also allows for six weeks of paid time off to care for a family member who is ill and two weeks of personal paid sick time. The benefits would not apply to federal workers or city employees.

Mendelson said while the financing mechanism might change, the benefits will stay the same.

The new law still has to survive a review by Congress, which has the final say over local laws in the District.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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