LITTLE ROCK — The House on Wednesday approved and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk a bill to create a maternity leave program for employees of state agencies.


The House voted 93-0 to approve Senate Bill 125 by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View. The Senate approved the bill in a 31-0 vote on Feb. 9.


The measure would allow employees of state agencies to donate accrued sick leave and vacation days into a “catastrophic leave bank” that an agency employee who has been employed for at least a year could draw upon for up to four weeks of paid maternity leave.


The Legislature, the Bureau of Legislative Research, Legislative Audit, the Highway and Transportation Department, the Game and Fish Commission, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Administrative Office of the Courts, constitutional offices and state colleges and universities would be allowed, but not required, to participate in the catastrophic leave bank program or create their own catastrophic leave banks.


Presenting the bill on the House floor, co-sponsor Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio, said the bill would help parents and “add no additional cost to our taxpayers, which I think is amazing.”


“We’re finally going to be able to provide something that we should have been providing for a long time,” she said.


Hutchinson’s office said Wednesday the governor will sign the bill into law Thursday in a ceremony at the Capitol.