Hohenstein cosponsors bill for emergency paid sick leave amid COVID-19 crisis

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State Rep. Joe Hohenstein announced last week he will introduce legislation to expand the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

President Donald Trump signed H.R. 6201 on March 18, the same day after it was passed by the Senate.

“The bill is intended to fill in the gaps on some of the bills that were just passed,” Hohenstein said of the state legislation. “It’s to make sure that anyone who has to take time off during this quarantine time is permitted to do so with paid sick leave and so the paid sick leave can be provided to a broader range of people.”

The House bill, which is identical to the Senate version proposed by state Sen. Larry Farnese, is being referred to as Emergency Sick Pay, according to Hohenstein.

The legislation seeks to extend the current law to employees working for smaller businesses not addressed, individuals who do not have other benefits available such as those “in hospitality, housekeeping, hotel workers, and those folks.”

“We also need to make sure it doesn’t become a burden on small businesses, either. We need to do support there as well, but there are separate actions being taken for small businesses as well,” Hohenstein added.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act accounts for up to two-thirds pay for the sick leave, and the legislation Hohenstein will introduce seeks to cover the other one-third, making 100 percent of leave taken covered.

There are more than 20 cosponsors on the bill.

“We have a health crisis, and we’ve been talking about social distancing as a way to keep people away from each other to flatten the curve,” he said, “and, I think we need to take a similar action to flatten the economic curve that is created what we’re doing right now for public health reasons.”

“We have to make sure people can stay in their homes and not have a bunch of bills piling up if they can’t make it to work or they’re being told to stay home from work,” Hohenstein added. ••