House and Senate repass paid family and medical leave with 2026 implementation date

Two House DFLers joined Republicans in voting against the program critics say will harm businesses across the state.

Lead author Sen. Alice Mann, DFL-Edina, speaks on the Senate floor. (Minnesota Senate Media/YouTube)

The House and Senate voted this week to pass a conference report amending HF2, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, that will tax employers and employees to help fund a new, state-run paid leave insurance program.

As amended by a DFL-only conference committee, the version of the bill that will head to Gov. Tim Walz for signature now includes a provision agreed upon by conferees to implement payroll taxes for the program on Jan. 1, 2026. Conferees also agreed to dedicate nearly $650 million in existing state revenue in 2024 as “seed money” for the program so that the state can begin providing those benefits in 2026.

Replacement wages would average about 66 percent of an employee’s income. Those benefits would be funded by a 0.7 percent payroll tax. Employers would be allowed to charge half that expense to employees, according to language in the bill. Companies offering more generous benefits than the state requires could opt out.

Eleven other states and the District of Columbia already have similar programs, though Minnesota’s would be among the most generous, according to bill sponsors in both chambers.

Republicans continued to make the case on the House and Senate floors this week that the bill, as designed, will irreparably harm small businesses across the state. School district superintendents have also spoken out to criticize the scope of the bill, which they said will strain their workforce stability.

During a floor debate over the HF2 conference report on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, brought a motion that called for the House to refuse to adopt the conference report and return it to the conference committee. That was voted down 68-62, with Democrats Dave Lislegard of Aurora and Gene Pelowski of Winona supporting Demuth’s motion. Both Lislegard and Pelowski voted against passage of the conference report.

In the Senate, all 34 DFLers voted to support the conference report, including the following four Democrats in swing districts: Rob Kupec of Moorhead, Aric Putnam of St. Cloud, Judy Seeberger of Afton, and Grant Hauschild of Hermantown. All 33 Republicans voted against passage.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.