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Maine groups launch referendum effort for paid family medical leave

Advocates for a paid family and medical leave initiative have started collecting signatures to put the issue on the ballot in Maine. The move comes as a legislative commission is working on a statewide plan for paid leave.

The referendum effort is being led by the Maine People's Alliance and the Maine Women's Lobby. If they're successful in gathering signatures, the earliest the issue would go on the ballot is Nov. 2023.

The groups say that will give the Legislature time to approve a plan being developed by a special commission on paid family and medical leave that must be submitted later this year. But the groups say the need is urgent, and that all options must be explored.

Their proposed referendum would allow workers to take up to 16 weeks of paid leave per year. Covered events would include a birth, adoption or fostering of a child, recovery from a physical or mental health condition, as well as the need to care for a loved one who requires significant support due to health issues or trauma.

More than 63,000 signatures must be collected and submitted by early next year.