Georgia Rep. Houston Gaines

ATLANTA – State employees and Georgia teachers would be able to take up to three weeks of paid parental leave under legislation the state House of Representatives passed overwhelmingly Tuesday.

The bill, which passed 155-2, would apply to parents following the birth of a child of their own, an adopted child or a foster-care placement.

The House passed the same bill last March, shortly before the General Assembly was forced to take a three-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

When lawmakers returned to the Capitol, the state Senate essentially gutted the bill and swapped in a different measure reducing legislators’ salaries in a bid to cut costs because of the pandemic. When the House refused to go along with the change, the bill died.

“This is something [former] President Trump and Ivanka Trump led on at the national level,” Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, the legislation’s chief sponsor, told his House colleagues Tuesday. “This is a positive step forward for the state.”

The legislation is a priority of House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who instituted a parental leave policy for House employees two years ago.

The bill’s cosponsors include House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, and Reps. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta; Marcus Wiedower, R-Watkinsville; Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee and Terry England, R-Auburn.

The legislation now moves to the Georgia Senate.