Sometimes the most important thing about legislation is how often it appears in the General Assembly.
Consider Senate Bill 556, Healthy Families & Workplaces/Paid Sick Days, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Angela R. Bryant (Nash), Gladys A. Robinson (Guilford) and Valerie P. Foushee (Orange).
This is just the latest version of a notion Democrats have been floating for years: compelling businesses to offer sick pay. The bill is supposedly “an act providing for healthy families and healthy workplaces by ensuring that all workers have earned paid sick days.”
Liberals have been trying for years to use government to force businesses to offer benefits that bureaucrats think are valuable, no matter what workers and employers think. A version of this bill came up in the legislature ten years ago, and another version was a runner-up in our Bad Bill Tournament in 2009. Other versions surfaced in the sessions of 2011, 2013 and 2015, and now the same idea is back again.
But of course, sick days are provided not by government but by employers, as a product of negotiations between them and workers. Workers are the best judges of what kinds of wages and benefits they most need, and employers are the best judges of what benefits to offer and to whom.
Many workers would rather have bigger paychecks up front, or at least a paycheck. Quite a few are willing to bet that if they get a chance to show their worth to a business, they’ll be able to earn pay raises or added benefits.
In today’s world, burdening businesses with expenses and red tape may well lead to them actually cutting staff or automating. This ideas meant to help workers may in the long run hurt them.
This kind of legislation reveals the real priorities of liberals. As Civitas’ Brian Balfour wrote in 2015 when this idea was floated yet again: “Big government ‘progressives’ love telling other people what to do (and spending other people’s money). It’s all about control, as a central tenet of progressivism is a strong central state controlling what should be free, voluntary associations between citizens.”
It seems unlikely SB556 will pass this session. The important thing to know, however, is that defeat this year might only be a temporary respite.
The history behind this bill shows that liberals have kept coming back, year after year, pushing this idea. They don’t give up. It’ll come up again, and maybe in a year when it could pass if conservatives are asleep at the switch or have become the minority again. That’s why it’s important for defenders of freedom to keep their guard up at all times and in every legislative session.