The Pennsylvania state House passed HB1796 unanimously, a bill that would protect domestic violence victims from eviction when they have to call the police multiple times on their abusers. But when it arrived in the Senate this week, lawmakers took the opportunity to add an amendment that would ban any local government in the state from passing paid or unpaid leave policies — policies that could also help these very victims.
Given that the amendment preempts any attempt to pass a leave policy, “that would include paid sick days, it would include unpaid domestic violence leave, it would include just about anything you can think of that would fall within those categories,” Marianne Bellesorte, vice president of policy, strategy, and communications at PathWays PA, told ThinkProgress. Domestic violence victims often need time off from work to access legal or medical help. Philadelphia already has an unpaid leave provision for survivors on its books, and it “protects really the most vulnerable workers who already don’t have paid time off, don’t have sick days, personal vacation days they can take,” said Molly Callahan, legal center director at Women Against Abuse. “They have to decide between their job and safety. It’s an unconscionable choice to ask someone to make.”
The Senate’s current version of the bill will still have to go to an appropriations committee before being considered by the whole body, and then it would need to go back to the House for concurrance given that it changed from what those lawmakers passed, Bellesorte explained. It was originally expected to move quickly, but now the future is unclear. Callahan has heard that “there is a good chance that it now won’t pass.”
This is why you need to focus on the downballot state races this year, and persuade people to vote for the Democratic state Senate candidate in your area in addition to the Democratic nominee for Governor this November.
When Democrats have control of the Senate leadership positions, stupid amendments like this won’t ever come up for a vote.