By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators' votes on one roll call from the week of May 5-9. There were no roll calls in the House last week.
PROTECT DOMESTIC WORKERS (S 2132)
Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a bill establishing a bill of rights for domestic workers, defined as "an employee who performs work of a domestic nature within a household." These include employees who perform housekeeping, house cleaning, home management, nanny services, caretaking of sick or elderly individuals, laundering, cooking and home companion services.
The bill establishes labor standards and protections in the domestic workplace. Provisions include requiring that a worker who puts in more than 40 hours per week be given a period of rest of at least 24 consecutive hours each week; mandating that all meal periods, rest periods and sleeping periods count as working time; ensuring that workers have a right to privacy; and requiring that female full-time workers receive at least eight weeks' maternity leave.
Supporters said it is long past time to ensure that these domestic workers have the same rights as all other workers across the state. They noted that these workers are an underserved group that is often overlooked.
(A "Yes" vote is for the bill.)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Yes; Sen. James Eldridge, Yes; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Yes.
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS BY LOCAL OFFICIALS (H 3760) -- The House and Senate have reached an agreement on a version of a bill imposing the same penalties on candidates for local office who violate campaign finance laws that are currently imposed on those for state and county office. The measure would prohibit a municipal candidate from appearing on the ballot if civil proceedings for failure to file his or her campaign finance reports on time have been initiated. Only final House and Senate approval are necessary before the measure goes to Gov. Deval Patrick.
Supporters said it is time to treat all candidates the same and remove this giant loophole that favors municipal candidates.
PROHIBIT SHACKLING OF PREGNANT INMATES (S 3978) -- The two branches have agreed on a new version of a bill that would prohibit the shackling of a female prisoner during pregnancy, labor and delivery except to prevent her from escaping or seriously injuring herself or others. It would also establish minimum standards for the treatment and medical care of pregnant prisoners to promote safe and healthy pregnancy outcomes, including adequate nutrition and prenatal care. Only final House and Senate approval are necessary before the measure goes to Gov. Patrick.
Supporters said it is outrageous that shackling a female prisoner during birth is still legal in the year 2014. They argued it is long past time to approve this prohibition.
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS LICENSES FOR NON-CITIZENS (H 3946) -- The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would make it easier for non-citizens to obtain a license to compete in mixed martial arts, boxing and kickboxing competitions in Massachusetts. Current law requires the fighter to obtain a social security number. The bill would allow the use of a form of identification "sufficient to identify the applicant."
Supporters said the social security number requirement discourages many major competitions from holding events in the Bay State because it is a long process to get a social security number. They noted that Massachusetts is one of the few states that require a social security number.
LOCAL DISABILITY COMMISSION MEETINGS (S 1985) -- The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved proposal allowing local commissions on disability to permit remote participation by commission members and others at any or all of their meetings. Under current law, only the attorney general can authorize remote participation.
Supporters said this would ensure that disabled people who have great difficulty getting to the meeting are afforded the opportunity to participate.
FIREFIGHTERS/POLICE OFFICERS AND SMOKING (H 2419) -- The House gave initial approval to a proposal that would amend the current law providing for the automatic firing of any firefighter or police officer, hired after 1988, who is caught smoking. The bill would give the firefighter the option to keep his or her job if he or she enters a smoking cessation program. If the firefighter is caught smoking again, he or she would then be fired.
POSSIBLE 2014 BALLOT QUESTIONS -- The Legislature has not acted by the May 6 deadline on several proposed 2014 ballot questions. This means that supporters of the questions must now collect 11,485 signatures by June 18, 2014 in order for the questions to appear on the November ballot.
Questions include repealing the 2013 law that creates automatic gas tax hikes by linking the tax to the U.S. Consumer Price Index, limiting the number of patients a nurse can care for at one time, expanding the state's existing beer and soda bottle deposit law to require a deposit on bottles of most other carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, hiking the minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10.50 per hour, requiring employers to give sick days to employees and penalizing hospitals that receive any state funds if they post profits above certain limits and/or pay their CEOs above certain limits.
The fate of a possible ballot question that would repeal the state's 2011 law allowing casino gambling is in limbo. Anti-casino forces are challenging a decision by Attorney General Martha Coakley that the repeal is unconstitutional and cannot appear on the ballot. The case was heard before the Supreme Judicial Court last week. The court has also allowed repeal supporters to attempt to collect the 11,485 additional signatures necessary to put the question on the ballot, in case the eventual court decision allows the question to move forward.
The voters in 2012 approved ballot questions that allow medical use of marijuana and require auto manufacturers to sell to non-dealer repair shops complete repair information and diagnostic tools. They rejected a proposal to allow terminally ill patients with fewer than six months to live to obtain medication they can self-administer to commit suicide.
"Domestic workers can now come out of the shadows and create a more safe and secure workforce."
Lydia Edwards, Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, on Senate passage of the bill protecting the rights of domestic workers.
"What was funny is that one of the signs has already been stolen."
Gov. Patrick upon visiting his old Chicago neighborhood where Chicago renamed a portion of the street on which he grew up 'Honorary Gov. Deval Patrick Way.'"
"It's a feeding frenzy ... It's a little more refined, a little less barbaric ... Debate is certainly restricted, no doubt about it."
Rep. Christopher Fallon (D-Malden) on most budget amendments being hashed out behind the scenes with individual members pitching their amendment to the House leadership, which then decides which amendments will pass.
"Any member can choose to debate any amendment individually."
House Speaker Robert DeLeo on the amendment process.
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK'S SESSION? During the week of May 5-9, the House met for a total of 52 minutes and the Senate met for a total of one hour and 46 minutes.