MAPE members testify on paid family and medical leave and caring for veterans

Publish Date

MAPE members testified before two Senate committees about the care they provide for
veterans and the importance of paid family and medical leave.

Laura Heezen, Brian MacNeill and Alex Erickson

Brian MacNeill, a behavior analyst with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
(MDVA), testified about the important work of MAPE employees on veteran care, their
desire to fund MDVA at the needed level to fully staff the veterans homes and funding
building rehabilitation. He spoke to members of the Senate State and Local Government
and Veterans Committee field hearing at the Minnesota Veterans home in Minneapolis
on Jan. 19.

MacNeill and his colleague Laura Heezen support the behavioral and emotional well-
being of the veterans who live in the Minneapolis home, which was founded in 1887.
“I am often humbled thinking that staff on these grounds have served veterans from the
Civil War to the Gulf War, helping them live the final chapters of their lives in peace and
comfort,” MacNeill added.

The Minnesota Paid Family Leave Act would allow workers to take paid leave for up to
12 weeks of medical leave and up to 12 weeks for family leave after workers and
employers pay a tax into a fund. The program would especially benefit low-income
Minnesotans and people of color, who are less likely to have paid leave through their

Lee Sullivan, a tax specialist with the Department of Revenue, recently testified in

Lee Sullivan Testifying

support of S.F. 2, Paid Family Medical Leave and S.F. 34, earned sick and safe time.
Sullivan had been active in MAPE’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) campaign in 2016 and
2017. During the campaign she became pregnant and faced her own struggles with a
difficult birth and her husband Joe Sullivan, also a MAPE member, was not allowed to
use the Family Medical Leave Act to help care for her because post-pregnancy recovery
is not a qualifying medical event.

Sullivan also needed to keep a close eye on her own sick leave as she was the caretaker
for her mother who faced many health issues as did her young son. Fortunately, she was
able to access the PPL benefit and have sick leave from the State, which many
Minnesotans who are in lower income and service industries do not have. “You will later
hear a bill that greatly expands access to earned sick and safe time for other industries,
and I encourage you to support it,” Sullivan testified.

“These bills won’t fix everything, but we can take honest strides in making Minnesota a
state and an employer that values our well-being, our security; and make it accessible to
not just state employees but all Minnesotans,” she added.