GOP slapping Democratic bills as ‘nanny state’ legislation
DENVER – Republican lawmakers ridiculed a bill to give parents unpaid time off to attend their children’s school activities as “nanny state” legislation Tuesday – something they say they are seeing a lot of from majority Democrats this year.Sen. Jim Dyer of Centennial became the latest Republican to slap the demeaning term on Democratic legislation. The bill would allow parents to 40 hours off per school year and Dyer said that might make employers leery of hiring parents because they risk losing a week’s worth of work.Dyer, a former business owner and political campaign manager, said he was always able to find the time to attend events when his three daughters were growing up.”This is that kind of nanny state legislation where you penalize small businesses,” he said.Other Republicans have raised the “nanny state” objection on bills that would ban new teen drivers from riding with other teens and require liquor stores to put identification tags on kegs to help track who bought beer.The session has been marked with typical partisan bickering but the GOP is complaining that Democrats – in control of both houses for the first time in 40 years – are advancing so-called social issues and not working together on the state’s budget crisis. Democrats point out that five Republican senators have signed on to their proposed budget fix.Democratic Sen. Peter Groff introduced the parental leave measure after a fatal stabbing at Denver’s Montbello High School last month. He said many parents attending a school meeting afterward told the principal they wanted to become more involved in the school but couldn’t leave work to do that.Some Republicans said people should be able to work out whether and when they can leave work on their own. Democrats countered that some jobs, especially in the service industry, are so rigid that employees can’t get away without risk of getting fired.Groff, an attorney and a lecturer at the University of Denver, said his bill is a chance for lawmakers to back up their talk about families and individual responsibility with action.”We shouldn’t put the bottom line ahead of our kids if we’re really concerned about their education,” he said.Democratic Sen. Suzanne Williams, a special education teacher from Aurora, said many parents who don’t show up for parent-teacher conferences are afraid of being fired. She said that while most state senators have had jobs they could leave for a time, there are many others, especially hourly wage workers, who don’t have that freedom.Businesses with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from the bill and the bill doesn’t cover managers, domestic or farm workers or firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians or health care workers. The time off is unpaid but employees who have vacation days or paid time off would be allowed to use those toward their time off.Republican Sen. Tom Wiens, a rancher and businessman, angered Democrats by trying to also exempt people who work at Six Flags Elitch Gardens. He said they should be exempt because so many families enjoy visiting the Denver amusement park. That amendment was defeated.
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