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First Bills In Hartford: Paid Family Leave, Minimum Wage Hike

Jessica Hill
Connecticut Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz smiles during session inside House Chambers at the State Capitol in Hartford last month.

Democrats who control the Connecticut General Assembly have started rolling out the bills they hope to pass this year. They include a $15-an-hour minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and a number of criminal justice reforms.

The minimum wage bill would gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 over a period of time that Democrats have yet to figure out. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the Democrats set their agenda in response to what they heard from voters last November.

“It’s time here in Connecticut that we give folks an equal chance to rise up from lower class, middle class to the upper class and do it in a way that they feel good to themselves and their families.”

The paid family and medical leave bill would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks off to care for a sick family member. They’d be guaranteed up to $1,000 a week. One-half percent of each paycheck would go into a state fund to pay for it.

Among the criminal justice reform bills rolled out by the Democrats is one that would require the state provide legal representation to immigrant children facing deportation.

The money would come from the state attorney general’s settlement of claims accounts that are already being used to fund legal representation for domestic abuse victims.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said the bills on the Democrats’ agenda will help grow the state’s economy.

“We do that by ensuring that we have paid family medical leave in the state of Connecticut. We do that by ensuring that we have a minimum wage that doesn’t keep people in poverty. We do that by ensuring that we have a workforce pipeline that trains people for the jobs of the 21st century. And we can go on and on.”

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.