Monday, March 28, 2011

One More Step on the Long Road to a Good Law

Last Thursday afternoon, when I was already contemplating what to do on my Friday off, my supervisor returned from a meeting at the Capitol and said, “We have a hearing.”  She didn’t need to say anything else; I knew right away she meant that the bill 9to5 has been championing this legislative session, HB 432, was one step closer to becoming law.  

HB 432, the Georgia Flexible Sick Days Act, states that if an employer provides sick days, their employees must be able to use that leave to care for either themselves or an immediate family member.  Because it will provide parents and caregivers more flexibility to care for their families, 9to5 and the Georgia Job/Family Collaborative strongly support this legislation.

After a bill is introduced, it’s assigned to a committee based on its subject matter.  For a bill to be voted on by the entire House or Senate, it first has to be voted out of committee.  But most proposed legislation doesn’t get that far; many bills aren’t even given a hearing.  To get a hearing, you have to have the support of the committee chair.  The chair holds the power to move your proposal forward or just ignore it until the end of the session.  If he or she schedules a hearing, it’s a good sign!

At our hearing in the Industrial Relations Committee, three Representatives presented their bills.  Diiscussion on the bill preceding HB 432 only lasted about fifteen minutes, but it felt like it dragged on and on.  Then Chairman Hembree asked Rep. Dempsey to come to the podium and explain why she thought this legislation was necessary and what it would do.  The members of the committee asked questions, and any interested parties were invited to speak on the bill.  Four speakers came forward, all testifying in favor of HB 432.  Finally, Chairman Hembree told Rep. Dempsey that he would work with her between now and the start of the next legislative session to improve the bill.

I was proud to hear members of the committee acknowledge Rep. Dempsey’s hard work and express their support for the bill.  It was satisfying to hear that HB 432 would move forward in the process of becoming law, even though it’s going to take a while.  But thanks to the support of 9to5 and other hard-working organizations in the Georgia JobFamily Collaborative, in a few years parents might be able to stay home with their sick child without fearing for their jobs; and that’s the best feeling there is.

Beth Miller, 9to5 Atlanta Volunteer

For more information on the Georgia Job/Family Collaborative and HB 432, go to

(Originally posted 3/16/2011)

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