Senate Bill 1383, a measure to expand paid family leave to 12 weeks, passed a critical committee this week. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara introduced the bill after the Legislature decided to pull the measure from the budget package last month and debate it publicly. The measure was also introduced last year but failed in the Legislature.

Jackson argued the bill would help workers at a critical time. The California Chamber of Commerce and the Restaurant Association feared it would “devastate” small businesses. The measure was changed from targeting businesses with 50 or more employees to businesses with five or more.

In opposition, Republican Heath Flora, who represents part of the San Joaquin Valley, spoke from personal experience when he said that starting a business in agriculture involves tight margins and just five or 10 employees.

"None of these people that were in support come from the rural communities—none of them," he added, referring to the bill's sponsors. "And that's who is going to get just hammered."

Proponents dismissed concerns the bill would hurt small businesses or lead to more litigation against employers.