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Senate Restores Funding for Education, Public Health, Other Statewide Services

September 28, 2017

The Senate today restored $24.9M to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, overriding 26 of Governor Baker’s line item vetoes, which totaled $320.6M. These veto overrides bolster valuable programs for children, families and vulnerable residents across the Commonwealth.

“These programs and services provide critical resources for people across the state – from housing support for young people and families, to mental health services for children to basic education and skills training for low income adults,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Senate has carefully reviewed vetoes in the context of our difficult fiscal situation and ongoing efforts on health care cost containment. I am confident that the budget remains in balance and cautiously optimistic about revenue collections and potential savings moving forward.”

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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Signed Into Law

July 28, 2017

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Legislature Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act; Governor Signs Bill Into Law

Establishes essential protections and prohibits discrimination against pregnant individuals

The Massachusetts Legislature last week passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which guarantees reasonable accommodations and safety measures for pregnant workers. The legislation makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against, refuse to employ, or terminate an individual due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.

“Everyone deserves a safe, healthy work environment, and that includes pregnant and nursing workers,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These are common-sense, reasonable protections to ensure that pregnant workers can continue to work, without jeopardizing their health or the health of their pregnancies.”

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Senate Ways and Means Releases FY2018 Budget Recommendations

May 16, 2017

The cover images were created by Massachusetts artists working with ArtLifting, a local organization that empowers artists across the country impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork.

Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.

The budget recommends targeted investments in a variety of areas to sustain and advance our shared prosperity and future growth, directing resources to programs and services essential for children, families and communities.

“This budget focuses on the fundamentals: education, health and human services, and housing,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Committee is clear-eyed about the fiscal environment in which we release our recommendations, but we stand firm in our belief that money invested in securing hope and opportunity for our people is money well spent. As we face unsteady times, we must be prepared to act responsibly. But we must never lose sight of the fact that our fortunes rise and fall together, and that taking care of each other is a core Massachusetts value.”

Senators can file amendments to the Senate Ways and Means recommendations until Thursday at 5 p.m. The full Senate will then debate the Fiscal Year 2018 budget in formal session beginning Tuesday, May 23rd. Click here to read a Message from the Chair, the Executive Summary and the full budget recommendations.

Senate Passes Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill

July 30, 2016

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Today the Senate passed legislation establishing a paid family and medical leave program for all Massachusetts workers. The bill creates a system for paid, job-protected leave for employees who must take time off from work to recover from their own serious health condition or to care for a new child or ill family member.

The Senate bill requires employers to offer employees up to 16 weeks of paid leave for family care and up to 26 weeks for temporary disability leave. Employees would be eligible for benefits after 1,250 hours of service for the employer, the current federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) standard.

“No one should have to choose between a paycheck and their own health or the wellbeing of their families,” said lead sponsor of the bill, Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Paid leave is a common sense benefit that workers in nearly every other country in the world receive. Most working families cannot afford unpaid leave – we may need to take time off from work, but our financial obligations don’t ever take time off.  We have also heard from many Massachusetts businesses that it is in their competitive best interest to offer paid leave, in order to attract and retain the most talented workers.”

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Legislature Passes Landmark Bill to Dismantle the Gender Wage Gap

July 23, 2016

Legislation will be the strongest pay equity statute in the nation

The Massachusetts Legislature today passed a measure to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority; a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.

Notably, the bill would prevents employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.

 “Massachusetts was the first state to pass a pay equity law over seventy years ago, yet women in the Commonwealth still make a fraction of every dollar earned by a man,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “In January, the Senate unanimously passed the bill that I sponsored with Senator Jehlen to close this unacceptable gap, with strong support from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance for Business Leadership. With this historic legislation finally on its way to the Governor’s desk, we make it clear that in Massachusetts, women working hard to support their families deserve fair pay.”

This bill represents a consensus-based effort to ensure that the legislation would be practical, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining “comparable work” and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.

It also:

  • Prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law.
  • Prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.

The legislation will take effect on July 1, 2018. It will now go to the Governor for his consideration.