Attention Maine readers!

Hey, I may be on the tee-vee!!

Today I got to hang out with the famous Libby Mitchell, President of the Maine Senate (and former Speaker of the House), candidate for governor, and nice lady. She's sponsoring legislation that would guarantee Maine workers the ability to accrue three days of paid sick leave over time, and I was there to support it. (Every so often the good people at the Maine Women's Lobby give me the chance to support various bit of legislation they're working on, which makes me feel like I am Making a Difference.) Anyhoodle, I got to sit in Madame President's office and try to sound intelligent. There were reporters present, so there's the possibility my smiling face may appear on local stations (or get quoted in the papers). Being a shameless self-promoter, I will be sure to link to it, if there is anything.

At this point, I should probably make it clear that my reasons for supporting the legislation actually have to do with, y'know, supporting the legislation. The best link I can find for background is an interview with Sen. Mitchell from a few months ago, which is less substantive than I would have liked. In a nutshell, this bill would allow workers to accumulate a few days of paid sick leave after a set period of employment, which could be used for either their own care or the care of their children. An added feature of the bill is that the time could also be used by victims of domestic violence to seek a safe shelter and get services for themselves and their children, which makes it a better, more comprehensive bill.

The spread of H1N1 was (and remains) a major selling point for the bill, as the recommendation is for sick people to avoid work or school until they have been free of fever for at least 24 hours. But obviously there is more to the bill than simply preventing the spread of one illness. Maine's working poor, who may lack access to affordable child care, often have to choose between lost wages (or employment) and taking care of themselves or their children. This leads many to go to work or send their kids to school while they are still sick. Not only does this slow recovery for those who are already ill, but it creates the potential to spread infections to classmates, co-workers and clients or customers. From a public health perspective, this is a no-brainer.

The business community typically opposes legislation like this, which is why (to my knowledge) there are no states that have passed similar bills in the past. But opposing paid sick time creates a false economy. If your customers or work-force are ill because one sick employee couldn't afford to stay home and spread their disease, the costs in lost productivity or custom are greater than simply paying for three (for small businesses) sick days.

It's a good bill, and I hope that Maine's legislature does the right thing and passes it.


  1. "Libby Mitchell, President of the Maine Senate (and former Speaker of the House), candidate for governor, and nice lady". Under that southern drawl she wears steel britches and would tear your heart out and eat it in front of you. Yes she did vote for Marriage Equality, but we have a much better candidate living two blocks from you. Pat McGowan. Take some time to know him, you will be mightily surprised.

  2. Well, she's always been very nice to me.