A Nevada bill to implement paid sick leave sailed through a legislative committee Thursday after business groups expressed general support for the measure.
Appearing before lawmakers Thursday evening, State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse described paid sick leave as a basic workplace standard and said too many families still do not have access to it.
"Paid leave is critical to the economic security of working families," she said at the committee meeting, where dozens of people filled seats for the hearing. "The public increasingly recognizes this necessity."
The Democratic legislator says employees would receive 40 hours of paid sick leave a year under the bill.
The legislation is in the Senate and has yet to be considered in the Assembly.
Compared to the original bill, a proposed amendment brought by Woodhouse decreased the number of businesses mandated to provide paid sick leave. The amendment stipulates that businesses with 50 or more workers must provide paid sick days. The original bill encompassed businesses with 25 or more employees.
The bill stipulates a worker can use paid sick leave to treat an existing health condition, get counseling or participate in any court proceedings related to domestic violence, among other topics.
Jose Macias told lawmakers his mother would still be alive if she had paid sick days. Taking a day off work was never an option for her, he said, and one of her biggest fears was getting sick.
Macias recalled how his mother had a stroke and collapsed at work while cleaning toilets at a Las Vegas-area convention center.
"I know in my heart that this could have been prevented if she would have had the choice to prioritize her health over her job," he tearfully told lawmakers, commenting that his mom dismissed pains because they would not have enough money to pay their bills.
The chamber of commerce for the Reno and Sparks area came out in support of the legislation, as did other business industry groups.
Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce, says the organization understands the need for employees to have paid time off, whether it's to take care of an ill family member or have time to personally recharge.
Representatives from some business groups said they would not take a committed position on the measure until they see specific amendment language.
Ten Democratic senators including Woodhouse have signed on in support of the legislation. Nevada Democrats say providing workers with paid sick days is a legislative priority.