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The years-long effort to add paid sick leave in Virginia is one step closer to reality

FILE - State Senator Jennifer Boysko
Steve Helber
FILE - State Senator Jennifer Boysko

Members of the Virginia Senate are about to debate a bill that would allow for family and medical leave.

Senator Jennifer Boysko is a Democrat from Herndon who has a bill that would set up a new state-administered insurance program to allow for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. And it's not just an academic debate for Boysko.

"I lost my voice in 2009, and for more than nine months back and forth I had to take off leave without pay for two months so that I could let my vocal cords heal and learn how to speak again," Boysko says. "These are things that happen to every Virginian, every person."

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says those 12 weeks will help families who are dealing with the birth of a child, a serious illness or an ailing relative.

"It's a great plan for folks who are going to be giving birth. It's also critical if you have a personal illness or a close family member who’s ill. This allows you to take the time that you need," Bobo says. "This kind of approach is one that most industrialized countries provide."

The bill passed the Senate Finance Committee on a party line vote, and supporters say they're hopeful that the Republican governor's reputation as a family man will cause him to put his signature on this bill.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.