Florida bill offering three months of paid leave stalling in House and Senate

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It might be now or never this session for a bill giving Floridians three months of paid leave.

Senate Bill 1194 and its House companion stole headlines when they were introduced last month. The legislation is now living in limbo, failing to get scheduled for discussion in committee, which is crucial for passage.

If approved, employers would be required to give men and women three months of paid leave after the birth, fostering or adoption of a child. Employees must have worked with a company for at least a year and a half, and clock an average of 20 or more hours per week to qualify.

Lawmakers sponsoring the measure called for its advancement Tuesday afternoon at a news conference with faith leaders.

“Many parents are forced to make the choice between having time to bond with their babies or losing their jobs,” said Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, who filed the House version of the bill. “A baby’s beginning lays the foundation for all.”

Joining them was Jacksonville Mother Angie Nixon. She says she faced postpartum depression when returning to work too early after giving birth.

“It’s very frustrating,” Nixon said. “I know this legislature is conservative — but I would like them to look towards their leadership up in the White House.”

President Trump approved 12 weeks of paid leave for federal workers in December. Critics of the Florida bill worry it will be detrimental to small businesses that can’t afford the change.

Davis said in her talks with leadership, there has been resistance to the bill’s current language. The lawmaker said she was open to making changes and hopeful a deal could be made.

If the bill does pick up speed and get through the Republican-controlled legislature — it would take effect in July.