RICHMOND– A bill that would have mandated paid sick leave for a number of key workers cleared a key Senate committee Monday, but only after sharply slashing it to only cover certain home health workers.

The original house bill would have required paid sick leave for grocery store workers, prison staff, child minders, farm workers, poultry workers, and others. An amendment by Senate Democrats refusing to impose such a mandate on private companies restricted the bill to only treating domestic workers who care for Medicaid patients.

Proponents said they preferred a more expansive bill, but called the compromise a step in the right direction.

“It’s a drastic reduction from what we wanted, but it’s still a good step forward with 30,000 home nurses on sick leave,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Legislation would require employers to take up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, unless the employer chooses a higher limit.

Proponents said the measure was good for public health. They said workers without paid vacation are forced to choose between their health and a paycheck when they or their children are sick.

The problem has been contentious even among Democrats who control the government. Similar sick leave measures died in regular and special sessions last year.

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