Partisan Battle Lines Forming Over Parental Leave Bill


A fact sheet from 9 to 5 Colorado summarizes House Bill 15-1221, legislation to renew existing Colorado law allowing parents to take unpaid leave for their childrens' school activities. This legislation passed its first House committee test today on a party-line vote, but faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate:

In 2009, the Colorado State Legislature passed the Parental Involvement for Academic Achievement Act, which allowed many Colorado employees to take leave to attend their children’s school activities. Research has consistently shown that increased parental involvement in the education and schooling of their children correlates with greater academic achievement outcomes. This legislation expires this year and should be permanently extended.
What the Current Parental Involvement Policy Does:

•    Allows employees of Colorado businesses to take up to 18 hours of leave per academic year to attend their children’s parent-teacher conferences, special education services, response to interventions for dropout prevention, attendance, truancy or other disciplinary issues.
•    Allows parents to participate in the above activities for children in Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade.
•    Applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. 
•    Limits leave to 6 hours per month, and the employer may require that the leave be taken in increments of 3 hours or less.
•    Requires parents to provide employers with at least 1 calendar week’s notice of the leave, except in an emergency. 
•    Employers may require that employees provide written verification of the reason for leave, and in the case of leave taken for an emergency, the employee must provide written verification of the leave upon return to work. 
•    Part-time employees accrue their leave at the percentage of full-time hours that they work (if you work 20 hours a week you would receive half of the leave time received by a full-time employee).
•    An employer may limit the leave granted to an employee if the health and safety of a person necessitates that the employee be present at work.  
•    Specifies that businesses that already have comparable leave policies that may be used for the same purpose and under the other provisions of the bill are not required to provide additional leave.
•    Allows for employers to deny leave if their absence would result in a halt in service or production.

House Bill 15-1221 would permanently renew the 2009 Parental Involvement for Academic Achievement Act, and expand the definition of "school activity" to include events like back-to-school meetings and meetings with counselors. This legislation saw a significant fight in 2009 when originally passed, which is one of the reasons it included a five year "sunset" provision requiring it to be reauthorized by the General Assembly. We've seen nothing to suggest that the 2009 bill has caused problems for employers, but Republicans are getting air cover from conservative group Compass Colorado as they try to kill it:

“Everyone wants to encourage parent participation in their children’s academic lives,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “We need to ask ourselves if we really need to legislate every aspect of the employer/employee relationship. Does more regulation imposed on businesses get the desired outcome, or will it just create more red tape and make the employer/employee relationship more adversarial?”

We're not saying they have a good argument, but it's interesting that Republicans are trying to fight what seems like a no-brainer bill. Supporters cite polling that says 93% of parents want to be involved with their child's education, but 52% say work responsibilities make that harder. We're not aware of any Democrats being targeted in 2010 for supporting parental leave legislation–but in 2016, what kinds of ads will be made about Republicans who are trying to repeal it? What does this say about the party who claims they're "pro-family?"

Once again, this is not a fight we would willingly take on, with a huge potential for blowback on Republicans from voters if they kill this bill. But that appears to be what's happening as of now.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    Wow. Want proof of how out of touch Republicans are from even their own talking points? Here it is.

  2. Moderatus says:

    You selectively quoted Compass Colorado's press release.

    Today the Colorado House Education Committee is considering House Bill 15-1221, requiring employers offer additional leave to parents in order to attend their children’s academic activities. While testifying against the bill, Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry’s Loren Furman testified: “There is no data showing employees are being denied leave to attend their children’s academic activities right now.” Furman offered data showing that over 90% of employers offer some kind of flex leave.

    This is a problem in search of a solution.

    • Old Time Dem says:

      Well, duh.  It's the law.

      To consider the argument another way:  if there is no problem, what is the problem with legislation that insures that there will continue to be no problem?

      Well over 90% of Coloradans did not murder anyone last year.  I guess that proves that the homicide statute can be repealed.

      • Moderatus says:

        The point is, this isn't a problem because employers already let their employees off for school. Why bring the government into this when it's not necessary?

        • Old Time Dem says:


          (1) "Information" from CACI is hardly authoritative.

          (2) What CACI said is "There is no data showing employees are being denied leave to attend their children’s academic activities right now."  That is weaselling, and means absolutely nothing.  Did they even look?

          (3)  "90% of employers offer some kind of flex leave" (even if true) is irrelevant to the question of "Do employers allow employees to take time to go to school meetings?"

          (4)  If the free market is already providing this solution, what is the problem with reinforcing it as a norm of employment by putting it into statute so that laggards will provide the same benefit, and the benefit cannot be arbitrarily taken away?


    • BlueCat says:

      OK. That leaves 10%. If you don't think 10% is a significant problem then you must believe that voter fraud, which occurs so rarely it doesn't even constitute a significant fraction of a single percent, is a much, much better, better by many magnitudes, example of a problem in search of a solution. Glad to hear it. Tell all of your rightie friends. 

  3. debbielynnepaint says:

    The so called partyof family familes prove their distaste of 21st century policies each andevery day.  As a retired Human Resoures Specialist, if parents are alllowed to participate in these activities, they are better employees and parents.  The Leave It to Beaver policy doesn't work anymore; unfortunately, that is what they want to go back too.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Speaking from the schoolhouse, students are much more engaged in their own educations when parents are involved. It's called "accountability". I thought that conservatives liked that value.

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