TRENTON – Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, today testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in favor of legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney and Budget and Appropriations panel Chair Senator Barbara Buono, which would appropriate up to six weeks of paid family leave time for employees.
“ Though I am only a co-sponsor of this Family Leave bill, I have been involved with this issue for a long time. I sponsored the original version in the Assembly many years ago along with our former colleague, Arline Friscia. However, with kudos to the prime sponsors, Senator Steve Sweeney and Chair of this Committee, Senator Barbara Buono, this is a much better bill with much less impact on the business community than the original was.
“I have been involved with some contentious issues during my years in the Legislature. I remember when the bar and packaged liquor dealers thought they would go out of business if we passed the .08 lower blood alcohol to be considered DWI in New Jersey. I can remember when the insurance industry said we would suffer grave results if we passed a 48 hour hospital stay for new moms and their babies.
Or how about the restaurant and hotel industry fighting the Clean Indoor Air Act because they would suffer serious business loss? Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions were going to undermine “family structures” in New Jersey. Well ladies and gentlemen, as you well know none of these dire results came to fruition in our State. And neither will such things happen with the passage of this bill.
“So I come before you today as a cosponsor, but more important as someone who has lived the experience that has convinced me of the overriding importance of this bill. It is just about 9 years ago to this day that my beloved husband was released from the hospital to our home to live out the last 4 weeks of his life. Since I was then an Assemblywoman with a great staff and a wonderful health insurance program, I was able to spend all the time we both needed when he was in the hospital and the precious time we had left together full of hope and love when he was able to return home. We had tremendous help from family and friends, but I have no idea what I would have done if somehow I could not have spent that precious time caring for Irwin Weinberg, and sharing those moments with him. This is still a very real and important experience for me. How can I not fight for the same resources for other wives, mothers or loved ones who will need them?
“You will probably hear many statistics today about the experiences of places like California that have passed such a law. Or you will hear the predictions of dire results if New Jersey passes a family leave bill. But please remember the real faces of this issue.
“ I was privileged to be able to create my own ‘family leave’ – and next to having our children, it was the most important experience of my life.
“Now let those who are less privileged have access to care for their loved ones too. I have faith that our terrific business community and our great work force in New Jersey will work out these accommodations and make our state one that truly celebrates ‘family values’.