Getting Reliable Data for Paid Leave
Bill sponsor recognizes need to get stakeholders to same starting point with paid leave data

by Julia Cardi

Colorado Democrats plan to bring back a paid leave bill in 2020, but they face a challenge of presenting data on paid leave programs that everyone can agree on. / PHOTO: LAW WEEK FILE

Fifth time wasn’t a charm in 2019 for passing a paid family and medical leave bill in Colorado, but supporters echoed a familiar optimism recently: They really think 2020 will be the year.

Sen. Faith Winter has carried measures that involve paid leave each year since 2015, when she was in the state House of Representatives.

Late in the 2019 session, after weeks of staunch opposition from parts of Colorado’s business community and lack of majority support in the Senate, the sponsors converted this year’s bill to an actuary study, which Winter said is expected out in January. A Colorado Sun report showed Senate Bill 188 was the most-lobbied bill for most of this past session.

Winter discussed her plans to bring back a paid leave bill at the Colorado Women’s Bar Association’s annual legislator appreciation breakfast on Nov.13. The CWBA also gave Sen. Jesse Danielson its Champion of Change Award for her work passing this past session’s equal pay bill. Winter told Law Week the goal of the feasibility study is to produce statistics about components of paid leave that different sides can agree on as a basis for policy decisions.

“There were disagreements on the numbers, and so we couldn’t make a decision,” Winter said, mentioning lack of consensus among stakeholders over everything from the proportion of the population that would take leave to how many weeks of leave the program should allow. “You can’t make public policy decisions when you don’t even have the same numbers you’re operating on.”

Data can be a slippery trickster, cherry-picked to support any position on a controversial issue. So Law Week talked with a few experts and researchers to find out what programs in other states and research show about designing a reliable study about the economics of paid leave.

To read this and other complete articles featured in the Nov. 25, 2019 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.