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The House Committee on Early Childhood on Thursday passed four bills with bipartisan support to make childcare more affordable and accessible for families, provide broader and more immediate access to paid family leave and address a safety concern to protect infant lives.

Three of the bills were sponsored by Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) as either a chief or regular sponsor.

“2020 caused so many disruptions for families because of the pandemic and government-mandated stay-at-home orders,” said Rep. Zika. “Families need more options for affordable and accessible childcare as they continue to cope with working from home or dealing with prolonged closures of their previous childcare facilities. The additional access to paid family leave will also provide peace of mind that can be a big help as people continue facing many unknowns.”

Representative Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay) and Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook) also voted to pass all four proposals out of the committee.

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in passing these important bills,” added Rep. Wright. “Our job this session should be helping Oregonians who are still facing severe hardship brought on by a year of the pandemic, natural disasters and more. These proposals represent the kind of work we should be doing to make things easier for them.”

“Accessible childcare and paid family leave are so important for providing stability in family life,” said Rep. Weber. “Whatever we can do as legislators to make life easier for Oregonians should be our top priorities.”

HB 3109: Reduces restrictions to allow for additional childcare locations.

HB 2484: Allows more dwellings to be used as family childcare homes.

HB 2474: Includes closure of childcare providers or schools due to a public health emergency as a qualifying purpose to take paid family leave. Reduces the amount of time before an employee can take family leave from 180 days to 30 days.

HB 3379: Bans the sale of crib bumper pads in Oregon that have caused infant deaths.

At the end of March, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) issued a call for the Legislature to refocus its priorities to help Oregonians recover from negative effects brought on by the pandemic. Issues such as lack of adequate childcare continues to be an immediate need.

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