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House Republicans promote family medical leave act

February 11, 2002
By: Kathryn Handley
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -State employees who take work leave to care for an ill family member would be assured of their jobs under a bill promoted Monday by the House Republican Caucus.

The bill would guarantee that state employees could return to their jobs after a period of uncompensated medical leave. It would also allow state employees to sue the State of Missouri for violations of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Currently, this act only applies to private employees.

The family medical leave bill is one of four bills House Republicans are sponsoring under their "State Employees Bill of Rights" legislation.

The other three bills would prohibit employer retaliation for employee worker's compensation claims, prohibit fee deductions from state employees checks without authorization, and make taking such deductions a class C misdemeanor.

House Republicans said one factor behind this legislation is that for the second year in a row, state employees will not see pay raises. And with current budget cuts and hiring freezes, House minority leader, Rep. Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, said state employees are "being asked to do more with less."

In a measure Hanaway called "the polar opposite of collective bargaining," she and other House Republicans are asking state employees to come to them with ideas on how to make their departments more efficient. Hanaway said if employee ideas foster enough savings, House Republicans would fight for the savings to go toward an employee pay raise as a reward.

"State employees deserve a cost-of-living increase this year," Rep. Larry Crawford, R-Centertown, said. "We want to find enough cost-savings to offer state employees an equal, across-the-board cost-of-living increase, exempting elected officials and department directors."

Hanaway said a 1 percent increase would cost $23 million in general revenue.