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2016 Legislative Priorities




Employment:  The WBA supports An Act to Establish Pay Equity (new draft S2119 – formerly S983/H1733) which would protect employees’ freedom of speech regarding pay, eliminate the use of salary history in the hiring process, require compensation to be based on comparable skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions and require employers to include minimum pay in job postings. The bill's approach is business-friendly because it has little to no cost to implement, allows employers to gradually achieve pay equity, and builds on other diversity and pay equity efforts already in place (Labor & Workforce Development favorably reported 6/30/15 to Senate Ways & Means Senate passed unanimously 1/28/16; in House Ways & Means).


An Act Establishing the Mass. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H1769) amends MGL §4, ch.151B to cover women (pregnant & nursing) who need minor accommodations (Labor & Workforce Development favorably reported 7/30/15 to House Ways & Means).


Legal Services Funding: The WBA supports the BBA Task Force’s call to increase the FY2017 budget item 0321-1600 funding to $27M. The budget item would provide funding for legal services, the Battered Women’s Legal Assistance Project, a Medicare advocacy program, and a Disability Benefits Project.


Transgender Civil Rights: The 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity added non-discrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit. An Act Relative to Gender Identity and Nondiscrimination (S735/H1577) would add public accommodations to the list of areas in which transgender people cannot be discriminated against (Judiciary Hearing 10/6/15).


Women’s Health: The WBA developed An Act Establishing Civil and Criminal Penalties for Female Genital Mutilation (S1116/H1530), which would protect girls in Massachusetts from female genital mutilation (FGM).  FGM involves removing part or all of a girl’s external sex organs and surrounding tissue for non-medical reasons, which can result in negative health consequences, death in childbirth and lifelong trauma. FGM is recognized by the UN as a human rights violation (Committee on Judiciary, Hearing 12/1/15).




Equal Rights Amendment: The WBA supports An Act Providing Equitable Coverage in Disability Insurance (H784), which would prohibit gender discrimination in disability insurance policies (Financial Services Hearing 7/21/15).


Health: An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (S557/H871) would establish mechanisms to ensure that when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information (Explanation of Benefits-EOBs) is not shared with anyone other than the patient. This would protect victims of domestic violence, young adults under 27, or minors seeking medical or counseling care (Financial Services Hearing 7/21/15).


Health Education: An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (new draft H3754 –formerly H448/S265), mandates age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education. The required curriculum includes education on relationships and sexuality (Education favorably reported new draft 9/10/15 to Health Care Financing).


ProbateAn Act Improving Spousal Elective Share - The WBA/MBA/BBA-drafted bill (S748) updates property rights of surviving spouses. This legislation would rewrite the existing statutory law on forced elective share by significantly increasing the size of the elective estate and clarifying procedures necessary to the election of the spousal share (Judiciary Hearing 6/24/15).


Reproductive RightsAn Act to Improve Healthcare for Young Women (H2070) would allow minors under 16 to receive an abortion without written consent from a legal guardian or judge. Instead, they may receive an abortion if they alone have written consent from an authorized individual who has counseled them on alternative options to abortion.


An Act Promoting Access to Accurate Medical Information (S1232/H2082) would mandate any reproductive health services to provide medically accurate, non-directive reproductive health care information. This would restrict anti-abortion “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” from providing inaccurate information (Public Health Hearing 6/2/15).


The WBA opposes bills that purport to increase health safety by imposing medically unnecessary and burdensome licensing requirements that are intended to make it harder for women to access an abortion if and when one is needed. Such bills include An Act to Advance the Safety of women seeking to terminate a Pregnancy (H2039), which requires excessive state-scripted “counseling” at least 24-hours prior to an abortion; An Act Relative to a Women’s Right to Know, which prohibits sex selection, bans ‘partial birth’ abortion, and by allowing parental involvement would create a substantial burden on the young women seeking judicial consent.


Welfare: An Act to Promote Employment (S107/H1698) would help unemployed parents on TAFDC receive the education and training needed to obtain and maintain employment by requiring DTA to provide timely information and referrals, appropriate assessment and allow parents 24 months to complete basic education or vocational services (S107 waiting Hearing in Children & Families; H1698 Labor & Workforce Development favorably reported 7/27/15 to House Ways & Means).


(The WBA's legislative policies do not necessarily reflect the views of our sponsors.)