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State Lawmakers, Faith Leaders and Working Parents Come Together to Support Paid Family Leave Legislation


March 23, 2021


William Miller, wmiller@mercuryllc.com, (786) 301-8049

Joey McKinnon, jmckinnon@faithinpubliclife.org, (843) 364-4403

State Lawmakers, Faith Leaders and Working Parents Come Together to Support Paid Family Leave Legislation

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, faith leaders from across Florida, organized by Faith in Public Life, joined with state lawmakers and impacted parents to urge the Florida Legislature to support legislation for paid family leave. More than 150 faith leaders in the state have signed a letter demanding the Florida legislature pass paid family leave.

On a press conference call, Rev. Tom Holdcraf, of St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Tallahassee and Hazzan Jesse Holzer of the Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville,  joined Florida lawmakers Senator Janet Cruz (SD-18), Reps. Angie Dixon (HD-14) and Felicia Robinson (HD-102), and Marianne Wareham, a parent in Port Orange, to call for passage of the legislation. 

The Florida Family and Medical Leave Act (SB 1596 and HB 1245) and Family and Medical Leave Insurance Benefits Fund (SB 1586 and HB 1247) would require Florida employers to create provisions to allow parents to take paid family leave to bond with a new child upon the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. 

With COVID-19 exposing the critical gaps in childcare that working families face, advocates in faith communities across the state, who often serve as a backstop for working parents and families in need during the arrival of a new family member, applaud this legislation. Increasing paid family leave is shown to reduce infant mortality. Yet 1 in 4 women are forced to return to work within 2 weeks of having given birth, putting the health of newborn infants and postpartum women at risk. 

For video of the event, click here.

For the full letter, click here. 

Senator Janet Cruz, Senate District 18, Tampa

“Our working families are the backbone of our state’s economy and we have neglected them for far too long. Passing legislation to ensure paid family and medical leave for Floridians will result in increased morale, improved economic outcomes, and more successful work environments throughout our state.”

Representative Angie Nixon, House District 14, Jacksonville

“Thirteen years ago, as a single working mom, I was faced with the tough decision that too many working parents face. I had to leave a sickly newborn at home while I returned to work to keep a roof over our heads. This left me lacking the opportunity to bond and care for her the way in which I needed to, creating stress on us both. Although things turned out fine for us, I have met countless mothers where it didn’t–mothers that faced depression or lost their jobs in order to care for their child. This is a decision working parents shouldn’t have to make and why we must pass paid family leave.”

Rep. Felicia Robinson, House District 102, Miami Gardens

“Family comes first, no matter what you do for a living. Our workplaces and our laws need to respect that. Whether for the birth of a child, for an adoption or the arrival of a foster child, parents need time to bond with their new children. In Florida, even unpaid leave under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act is inaccessible for 63% of working people. Nationwide, 1 in 4 women return to work less than two weeks after giving birth because of lack of paid leave. We need legal protections that allow working parents and their children to spend time face to face.”

Marianne Wareham, an impacted mother from Port Orange

“Families like ours are forced to choose between needing just a little more time to be home with the baby during those tender first weeks and paying the bills. It’s not a choice that any parent should be forced to make.”

Rev. Tom Holdcraft, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Tallahassee

“Having to choose between your newborn and your paycheck is an impossible, immoral choice, but it’s reality for too many working families. It’s one that I have faced as well as many in the pews. The bills providing paid family leave like the ones proposed today would give working parents time to bond and develop in their important parent and child relationship.”

Hazzan Jesse Holzer, Jacksonville Jewish Center, Jacksonville

“As a member of the Jewish faith I believe family is sacred and I believe the health of each member of our society is sacred. A+B equals C so I believe the health of every family is sacred…a family shouldn’t have to choose between the foundational moments of a family. Those formative moments that lead to long-term sustainable well-being versus losing a paycheck.”


Faith in Public Life is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, with a network of over 50,000 leaders, they are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level that affirms our values and the human dignity of all.

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