Friday, June 9, 2017

We need YOUR voice! Help move the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act forward for a vote

 

For too many women, a family member’s medical crisis means choosing between a paycheck or being a caregiver.  Sometimes there are no options, no other caregivers are available and the choice is made for them.  And, when a woman gives birth or experiences a medical crisis of her own, the risk of losing a job increases.

CCICSW supports An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program (S.1048 and H. 2172) as part of our our priority legislation. Last year this legislation was voted in by the senate, then never got a vote in the house and essentially died in the house of represenatives. We can’t let that happen this session.
Tuesday, June 13, the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hear testimony and vote on whether to move the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act forward for a vote.

We need you to send letters of support to the committee by Monday at noon. 

What to say:
“I am submitting this letter as written testimony for your hearing on An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program (S.1048 and H. 2172.) June 13, 2017.  Please add this letter to that testimony.”
Look at these fact sheets for more about the bill:
Tell your own story – talk about a hardship you experienced that this bill may have prevented.  Talk about what this bill would mean to your security or a family member or people you know.  Or, simply state your support.  Keep it to one page. If you belong to a group, committee, consider asking if you can submit a letter on their behalf, or if you have family or friends who support this act, add their names.

Send it by email – and there is more contact information below if you want to make your letter formal.
The Joint Committee leadership is shared by both house and senate, send to all or to just one of the chairs.

Senate:
Senator Jason M. Lewis, Chair:  Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov
Senator Patricia D. Jehlen, Vice Chair:  Patricia.Jehlen@masenate.gov

Joint Committee on Labor
and Workforce Development
24 Beacon St. Room 511-B
Boston, MA 02133

House:
Paul Brodeur, Chair:  Paul.Brodeur@mahouse.gov
Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Vice Chair:  Tricia.Farley-Bouvier@mahouse.gov

Joint Committee on Labor
and Workforce Development
24 Beacon St. Room 472
Boston, MA 02133

And if you want to help move this bill forward – cc your email to the Speaker of the House Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov, and Senate President Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov.

Share this post with anyone who might be interested in getting this bill passed this session, let’s not allow it to die on the house floor this time!

The more input we give, the more we use our own voices, the more our legislators will know we are watching and in 2018, we will vote.



June Meeting Posting

June 14th at the Barnstable County Complex, 3195 Main Street, Barnstable, MA.  5-7 pm



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Help us Bring a Housing Court to Cape Cod and The Islands!

We need your help, we need your voice.

Help us bring a Housing Court to Cape Cod and the Islands!  We need letters of support to go to MA Legislative Budget Conference Committee. You can help us protect women who rent.
(This bill is on CCICSW's priority legislation list for the 2017-2018 legislative session


This is an update on the progress of the Housing Court bill, Cape Cod does NOT have a Housing Court, this is important to women:
  The Housing Court is a layer of protection for women who rent. MA has adopted the key provisions of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and parts are related to issues with landlords. Housing Courts are where women can enforce these protections. The Housing Court has judges and staff with expertise in housing law and who are trained to provide tenants and landlords with a fair court process. Both landlords and tenants can access the resources that only Housing Courts have, including the Tenancy Preservation Program, Lawyer for the Day Programs and Housing Specialists. Homeless can be prevented and municipalities can address serious housing and health code violations efficiently and effectively.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:

Housing Court Bill Goes to Budget Conference Committee
On May 25, Senate Ways and Chairwoman Senator Spilka made the case on the Senate floor for statewide housing court expansion and an amendment to strike the housing court from the Senate’s budget because of costs was withdrawn. Housing Court expansion advances to the FY2018 Budget Conference Committee thanks to Senator Spilka’s leadership. Thank you to those who reached out to key leaders, if you haven’t given your input it’s not too late. (Note: Bills are also still pending in the Judiciary Committee.)
Budget Negotiations Start Today, Monday, June 5.

The 6-member Budget Conference Committee is led by Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka: Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov  and House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey: Brian.Dempsey@mahouse.gov. Today, they start negotiations to reconcile the Senate and the House budgets. The other four members are Senators Sal DiDomenico: Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov and Vinny deMacedo: Vinny.deMacedo@masenate.gov  and Reps Stephen Kulik: Stephen.Kulik@mahouse.gov and Todd Smola: Todd.Smola@mahouse.gov .
Action Needed This Week – Please Help.
  1. Send a letter to the Conference Committee. Use this sample letter or tell your own story.
  2. It is critical that leadership gets a copy of your letter. Please “cc” House Speaker DeLeo Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov and Senate President Rosenberg  Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov
  3. If you email your letter to Annette R. Duke, Esq. Housing Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute: ADuke@MLRI.org by Thursday, June 8 at 11 am, she will deliver it to all 8 elected officials that afternoon.
  4. Ask your Rep and Senator to contact leadership and convey how much people in their districts want a Housing Court. It is unfair that some have access to a housing court and others do not.


Welcome New Supporters
Housing Court 4 All Coalition has grown to close to 150 organizations and welcomes:
  • Massachusetts Municipal Association
  • Watertown Health Department
  • Chelsea Fire Fighter Local 937
  • Falmouth Human Services
  • Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association
  • Feldman Law, Boston
Please  invite organizations to Join the Growing List of Supporters for Statewide Housing Court.

Contact Annette R. Duke, Esq. Housing Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute: ADuke@MLRI.org   with any questions.



Friday, June 2, 2017

Our 2017-2018 Priority Legislation

Cape Cod and Islands Commission on the Status of Women

Priority Legislation for the 2017-2018 General Legislative Session 




1.      An Act Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in Our State (ACCESS) (SD939/HD450) Lead Sponsors: Sen. Harriette Chandler, Reps. Patricia Haddad and John W. Scibak This bill would expand health insurance coverage of contraceptives in the Commonwealth.  Under this bill health insurance policies must cover:  all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices or their therapeutically equivalent alternatives, all FDA-approved over-the-counter contraceptive drugs and devices, a 12-month supply of contraceptive drugs and devices in a single dispensation, voluntary sterilization procedures, and education and follow-up for any provided contraceptive drugs and devices.  This will improve women’s access to contraceptives throughout the Commonwealth.

2.      End Child Marriage in Massachusetts (S785/H2310) Lead Sponsors: Rep. Kay Khan & Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, Current laws allow marriage of children the age of 18 with no age limitations with parental and judicial consent.  This bill would ban marriage under the age of 18.  Proponents say updating marriage laws, which in many states are more than a century old, will help protect children from being pushed into marriages by parents and predators.

3.      Housing Court Expansion (S946/H.978) Lead Sponsors: Sen. Karen Spilka The Housing Court has judges and staff with expertise in housing law who are trained to provide tenants and landlords with a fair court process. Both landlords and tenants can access the resources that only Housing Courts have, including the Tenancy Preservation Program, Lawyer for the Day Programs and Housing Specialists. Homeless can be prevented and municipalities can address serious housing and health code violations efficiently and effectively.  Over 30 % of the population in MA has no access to housing court that includes all of Cape Cod & the Islands.

4.      An Act Establishing Just Schedules for Employees (SD/846HD3693) Lead Sponsors: Sen. Kenneth Donnelley, Rep. Sean Garballey This bill would establish employee rights to additional payment if they are not given sufficient advance notice of any changes to their work schedule. The bill specifies that if employers make changes to an employee’s schedule within 10 days of a scheduled shift, they are required to pay between one and four additional hours of predictability pay, in addition to wages earned for hours worked. This bill will protect employees of the retail, fast food and hotel industries of the Commonwealth. 

5.      An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (SD1768/HD2573) Lead Sponsors: Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Kenneth Gordon (2016-2017: Engrossed by the Senate – 7/30/16) This bill establishes employee rights to family medical leave or temporary disability leave in the event of the following: the birth of a child of the employee, the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, the necessity of an employee to care for a family member that has been diagnosed with a serious health condition for a period of time. Further, the bill safeguards the position, compensation, status, and benefits of the employee upon return from leave so long as ample notice to the employer is given.



Supported Legislation for the 2017-2018 General Legislative Session



Equitable Coverage in Disability Policies (S545.H482) Lead Sponsors: Rep. Kenneth Gordon and Sen. Spilka  (2016-2017: Engrossed by the Senate – 7/30/16)
This bill establishes employee rights to family medical leave or temporary disability leave in the event of the following: the birth of a child of the employee, the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, the necessity of an employee to care for a family member that has been diagnosed with a serious health condition for a period of time. Further, the bill safeguards the position, compensation, status, and benefits of the employee upon return from leave so long as ample notice to the employer is given.

Protect Girls from Female Genital Mutilation (S788/HD2873)Lead Sponsors: Rep. Sarah Peake/Sen. Harriette Chandler  Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves removing part or all of a girl’s healthy sex organs and surrounding tissue for non-medical reasons resulting in health consequences, death in childbirth and lifelong trauma. This bill would create a program for education, prevention and outreach for communities that practice FGM, requires mandated reporters to make a 51A report to DCF if a child has suffered from physical or emotional injury resulting from FGM and criminalizes the acts of committing FGM on a child or taking a child in or out of the Commonwealth to commit FGM or to permit another to commute FGM.

this bill passed! Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act  (S1023/H1048) Lead Sponsors: Sen. Joan Lovely and Rep. David Rogers (2016-2017: Reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and referred to the Committee on House Ways and Means - 8/3/15)  This bill provides safeguards for employees with conditions of pregnancy, childbirth, and other related aspects. The bill allots for ‘reasonable accommodations’ to be taken and provided by the employer. These accommodations include but are not limited to: more or frequent breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedule.

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Members of CCICSW at the State House Advocating for you, May 17.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Join us to Lobby for Women's Rights on Beacon Hill

Join us as we lobby for women May 17, 2017, Women's Advocacy Day at the State House.
No experience necessary!

Details and sign up information here.

From the MA Commission for the Status of Women's website:
Advocacy day is an annual event held by the MCSW to advocate for legislation that advances the rights and opportunities of women. The Commission discusses key findings from the previous year in collaboration with regional commissions, and reports findings collected from public hearings hosted during the year throughout the Commonwealth. Attendees hear from the Commission Chair and regional commission Chairs as well as influential legislators. The event includes time for members of the commission and supporters to visit legislators to discuss priority legislation. The MCSW invites members of the community to attend and participate in Advocacy Day and stand in support of women throughout Massachusetts.
For highlights of Advocacy Day 2015, please see this informative video created by the Bristol County Commission on the Status of Women.
Sign up here.


Monday, May 8, 2017

May Meeting Posting

Our next meeting will be at the Yarmouth Police station, 1 Brad Erickson Way (or 340 Higgins Crowell Road) from 5-7pm

 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Please help us advocate for victims of domestic violence by establishing a local Housing Court

     The Housing Court is a layer of protection for women who rent. MA has adopted the key provisions of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and parts are related to issues with landlords. Housing Courts are where women can enforce these protections. The Housing Court has judges and staff with expertise in housing law and who are trained to provide tenants and landlords with a fair court process. Both landlords and tenants can access the resources that only Housing Courts have, including the Tenancy Preservation Program, Lawyer for the Day Programs and Housing Specialists. Homeless can be prevented and municipalities can address serious housing and health code violations efficiently and effectively.
     Currently, one -third of the state’s population does not have access to Housing Court, including Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties. 
     An attempt was made to include funding for these courts in the budget this year.
Due to the extreme budgetary constraints this year, no housing court expansion budget amendment was filed in the House as part of the FY18 budget. Representative Walsh and Representative Donato are working on advancing the housing court expansion as legislation (House) H978 and (Senate) S946.
     The Cape Cod and Islands Commission on the Status of Women is among many organizations that now support the bills that are being filed. We are asking you to contact your legislators, see details below under "Next Steps."

This information is from Greater Boston Legal Services, in the form of advice for victims of domestic Violence:
How does VAWA protect me?
     VAWA means that a housing authority can not refuse to rent to you just because you are or were a victim of abuse.
     VAWA means that you can not be evicted from public housing just because of your abuser or your abuser’s actions.
     If you and your abuser live together, the housing authority can evict your abuser for his or her acts of abuse, but you must be allowed to stay. Acts of abuse include domestic violence, threats, dating violence or stalking.

Can I be evicted for violating my lease?
     Under VAWA, a housing authority can not evict you for violating your lease because you are a victim of abuse.
     It also can not evict you for criminal activity related to domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
     But, a housing authority could evict you for serious or repeated lease violations that are unrelated to domestic abuse.

What can the housing authority do?
      A housing authority can evict you if it can prove that other tenants or staff are in actual and imminent (immediate) danger that cannot be addressed by security or other steps. If the housing authority can prove this, you could be evicted even if you are a victim of domestic abuse.
     But without proven danger, the housing authority can not evict you or penalize you in any way.
     Also, the housing authority can not hold you to a more demanding set of rules than it uses for tenants who are not victims of abuse.

From Annette R. Duke, Esq.,Housing Attorney,Massachusetts Law Reform Institute:
 (Find your legislators here, after typing your info into the search form, at the bottom of the list under "District Representatives" click on the link for your State Representative and State Senator)

Next Steps