By Samantha Savvidou

We’re more than halfway through the 2017 legislative session! We are so grateful to have a strong network of paid leave advocates and supporters to help push this legislation through.

This legislative session, Connecticut lawmakers introduced two paid family and medical leave bills: Senate Bill No. 1 and House Bill No. 6212: An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave. Since the session began in January, we’ve been busy!

Volunteers and paid leave supporters led a Valentine’s-themed Week of Action in February, concluding with a public hearing on both paid leave bills on February 16.  Check out more of our Week of Action by ‘Liking’ the Campaign on Facebook and checking out our recent pictures and videos. More than 60 individuals, organizations and small business owners testified in support of paid family and medical leave at the end of the Week of Action, clearly demonstrating the need for a policy that benefits working families, loved ones, children, the workplace, and the economy. It was a long night but the desire for change is what powered us through.

At the end of February, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (who authored the Family and Medical Leave Act in the early 1990s), advocates, members of the business community and state legislative allies gathered for a press conference at Hartford Prints to make the small business case for paid family and medical leave.  They are truly champions for the cause!

In early March, the Labor Committee voted favorably for both paid leave bills after a long debate. Senator Cathy Osten demonstrated critical knowledge and support for paid leave throughout the Committee’s deliberations. Thank you, Senator Osten for your leadership! Check out the press the vote received here and here.

Last week, Campaign partner AARP-CT hosted Life Lessons: Understanding Paid Family Leave, a live program on CPTV that featured Campaign chair Catherine Bailey, AARP volunteer Stacey Stableford, and Samuel King of Blue Earth Compost, a small business supportive of the Campaign. The program is re-airing on CPTV on April 17 at 10 pm and April 23 at 8 pm.

Now, we’re awaiting further action on both paid leave bills. We have a long journey ahead before paid leave becomes a reality here in CT and help is needed! There are many steps that you can take to continue the pressure on our legislators to support S.B. 1 and H.B. 6212.

We’ve created a Community Action Toolkit for anyone interested in bringing the issue of paid leave to local communities. The toolkit provides guidance to contacting elected officials, engaging local/municipal government, hosting a house party, writing a Letter to the Editor and talking to local businesses. Take a look and contact the Campaign if you have any questions!

For additional ways to get involved, check out our What You Can Do flyer.

Samantha Savvidou is a Masters of Social Work student at UCONN and Public Policy intern for the CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF).