September 26, 2023

State Innovation Exchange Releases Playbook On Winning Paid Family and Medical Leave in the States 



Playbook draws from successes in 13 states and D.C. to outline strategies for state legislators and advocates to make paid leave policies a reality in 2024 and beyond

Washington, D.C. — Today, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), in partnership with A Better Balance and New America, released “States Leading on Leave: A Playbook on Winning Paid Family and Medical Leave," proposing strategies to realize expanded paid family and medical leave (PFML) policies in legislatures across the country. The playbook is based on lessons learned from lawmakers who successfully enacted these policies in 13 states and Washington, D.C. with support from advocates, including leaders like SiX. As more states look to make this issue a priority in 2024, SiX will promote the playbook to its network of 3,000 state legislators in all 50 states.

In the absence of federal action, states have emerged as a leading force for change in ensuring the American people can take paid time off to recover from a serious illness, to bond with a new child, or to provide care to a family member. The playbook seeks to bolster these efforts to address what remains a glaring injustice in this country: just 39% of workers are eligible for and can afford to take six weeks of unpaid leave — with workers of color, especially Hispanic immigrant workers, most likely to be left out.

The playbook offers guidance for coalition building and management, campaign strategy, policy design, and planning for successful implementation drawn from SiX’s experts and interviews with legislators and advocates in states that have won PFML enactment in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon. SiX has been leading the cross-strategy of these states through a paid leave cohort, organizing state legislators and advocates from across the country around the guidance detailed in the playbook. 

“No one should have to worry about losing their job for putting their health and family first. As a father, grandfather, and former Colorado State Senator who has fought for paid leave, I have seen first hand how transformational these policies can be — and the tragedy of their absence across the country,” said Hon. Jessie Ulibarri, co-executive director of SiX. “Going into 2024, we’re focused on spreading a clear vision of the multiyear process of building the infrastructure needed to improve the lives of families across this country, inspired by the very people who have already had success doing the same.”

"I've been working to pass a statewide paid family and medical leave plan since I was first elected to the legislature ten years ago. It was a moment of joy and pride to see this bill finally passed into law," said Sen. Mattie Daughtry (ME). "This law is the result of years of commission work, followed by countless hours of meeting with business and community leaders, followed by amazing legislative committee work. It's been a long road, but we can truly say that this is a plan built by Mainers, for Mainers."

“The decision between caring for your family or losing a job can be impossible – one that no one in Colorado should have to make,” said U.S. Representative Brittany Pettersen (CO-07). “I was the first Colorado legislator to take leave after having my son Davis, but far too many Coloradans are not as lucky. I am proud to say paid family and medical leave will be accessible to all eligible workers starting in January of next year, and Colorado is better and stronger for it.”

“As the parent of a child with a long-term illness, I know the struggles families face when deciding between work and family health emergencies,” said Sen. Erika Geiss (MI). “That is why the state legislature must follow Governor Whitmer’s lead in establishing paid family leave for state employees and improve our paid family and medical leave policies for all working Michiganders, and this playbook will be extremely helpful as we continue to do so. I won’t stop until Michiganders have access to the paid family and medical leave they deserve.”

“Historically, this country’s social safety net and paid family and medical leave policies have left out Black, Latine, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ communities,” said former Rep. Ruth Richardson (MN). “That is why it is crucial that when we pass paid family and medical leave policies, we are centering the experiences of those who have been largely left behind. This was top of mind when we successfully passed such policies in Minnesota, and it must continue to be as we create a more inclusive society for all.” 

“As an ER Physician, I’ve witnessed the stress individuals face when they aren’t guaranteed paid time off when they get sick,” said Sen. Alice Mann (MN). “When a major moment takes place in someone’s life, their main focus should be recovery, not the backlog of bills. Paid family and medical leave policies minimize some of the financial burden that individuals may be facing, and it’s so important that we extend this kind of support. That is why I am proud to live in a state where workers will soon begin receiving paid family and medical leave benefits, and proud of SiX for championing this cause through this playbook.” 

To read “States Leading on Leave: A Playbook on Winning Paid Family and Medical Leave" please visit

State Innovation Exchange (SiX) was founded as a nonpartisan, national resource and strategy center for state legislators working to move bold public policy that builds an equitable, resilient, and prosperous country for all. SiX provides state-based technical assistance, public policy research, skill and issue-based trainings, communications and polling support, convenings, and strategy sessions with state legislators, power builders, and policy advocates on a wide array of public policy topics.

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