Back in December 2016, we wrote an article discussing the passage of the District of Columbia Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (“the Act”) by a 9 to 4 DC City Council vote on December 20th. We explained that the next step was for the Act to be presented to Mayor Muriel Bowser. At that time, Mayor Bowser had expressed concerns about the Act and stated that she would not sign it.
On Wednesday, February 15th, Mayor Bowser elected not to veto the Act, allowing it to advance unsigned. In a letter to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Mayor Bowser explained that although she supports paid family leave for DC residents, she has a number of grave concerns about this law. These include: (1) the cost of the Act on DC businesses (at an estimated $250 million in additional taxes per year), (2) the cost of a first of its kind technology infrastructure that will cost between $40 to $80 million for DC to implement — before it can collect the new tax (3) the establishment of one of the largest DC government agencies in order to distribute benefits (although 2/3 of the benefits will go to non-DC residents), (4) the lack of benefits for DC residents who work outside of the city or for the federal government, and (5) the fact that benefits won’t be distributed until the year 2020. Following receipt of the mayor’s letter, Chairman Mendelson said he was committed to working to improve the Act to address Mayor Bowser’s concerns, as well as concerns from DC’s business community regarding the expense of the new legislation. Thus, the Act may undergo additional changes before it is fully implemented by the DC government. At this point, the next step is for the Act to be submitted to Congress for final review.