During this past legislative session, Grand Forks state Rep. Emily O’Brien took 51 days off (from a 76-day legislative session) due to her daughter’s birth and related health issues. Rep. O’Brien was paid over $9,000 during her leave.

Unlike some, I am glad that she was able to do that. As a mother of three, I fully understand both the short-term and long-term importance of that critical time in the lives of both baby and mother. O’Brien is fortunate to have a job that allows this important benefit. Sadly, many North Dakotans don’t have that flexibility.

Family leave is a great idea that is proven to have many benefits. This type of legislation has been proven in nearly every other developed nation to be good for business, good for individuals, and good for families. I wish Rep. O’Brien and her colleagues would understand that paid family leave for all North Dakotans – not just them – is simply the right thing to do. North Dakotans should not have to choose between being with their loved ones at critical times and earning their paycheck.

Members of our Legislature don’t have to make that difficult choice, and neither should the rest of us.

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