Lawmakers introduce competing bills about family and medical leave law

Lawmakers on both sides have different ideas about how to tackle issues regarding Wisconsin’s family and medical leave law.

A bill authored by Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, would simplify the state law to make it more like federal law. Employers that cover the federal Family and Medical Leave Act would not have to also cover employees under the state law under the proposal.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin’s largest trade association representing employers, is lobbying for the Republican bill, saying it would eliminate some confusion for businesses.

“Just having two different sets of rules means that the HR department has to file two different sets of paperwork, and it’s two opportunities to make an error or to have a lawsuit come up,” said Chris Reader, the group’s director of health and human resources policy.

Democrats say the Republicans have the wrong approach. They introduced the Local Wage Act on Tuesday, which would roll back state laws prohibiting cities and local governments from setting their own minimum wage and creating their own family and medical leave standards.

“Bringing control to local government means putting the power and authority in the hands of folks who know best what’s going on at the level of labor markets,” said Peter Rickman, president of Alliance for Good Jobs.

The bill’s author, Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said she’s heard interest from local politicians about the bills.

“They know their communities far better than any one of us does,” Subeck said.