For up to date information on the status of legislative and budget efforts please visit our Take Action page and/or contact Chelsea Sedani, Director of Advocacy, at 617-259-2936 or csedani@empathways.org.

Priority Legislation 2017

An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave and Temporary Disability Leave Insurance Program (S1048/ H2172)

Sponsors: Senator Karen Spilka, Representative Kenneth Gordon

Creates an insurance program to provide partial wage replacement for workers who need to recover from a serious illness, care for a family member, or to care for a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child.

An Act Establishing a Student Tuition Recovery Fund (S112/ H627)

Sponsors: Senator Eileen Donoghue, Representative Jennifer Benson, Attorney General Maura Healey

Creates a Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) which can reimburse students who are entitled to a refund of tuition and related costs if the for-profit school they attended closed, failed to provide the services promised to their students, or violated state law. Twenty-one other states have STRFs or similar funds in order to provide relief to student loan borrowers.

An Act Improving the Earned Income Credit for Healthier Families (S152/ H1504)

Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Majorie Decker

Increases the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 23 percent to 50 percent of the federal EITC to reward work and increase economic mobility. This bill would also improve outreach efforts to increase awareness and usage of the EITC as well as ensure victims of domestic violence could access the credit.

An Act Relative to Fairness in Debt Collection (S120/ H2811)

Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Paul Brodeur

Protects individuals with consumer debt by ensuring they retain a basic level of earnings to pay for essential needs. Provides protections from unscrupulous practices of certain debt collectors by requiring that collectors provide evidence of the debt. Limits the additional fees and interest that collectors can charge after the judgment, and prohibits the arrest of a borrower who does not pay a judgment.

Click here to view the full 2017 priority legislation list.

FY18 Budget Priorities

$120 million for the Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)(DHCD 7004-9024)

MRVP helps low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors access affordable housing. This funding request would help maintain the over 8,000 vouchers in use, increase the number of vouchers available, help preserve affordable housing developments, and make programmatic fixes such as increasing income limits to help prevent the “cliff effect”.

$1 million for the Multi-Generational Anti-Poverty Pilot (EEC 3000-7020)

The Multi-Generational Anti-Poverty Pilot would provide the Department of Early Education and Care with the opportunity to partner with services providers and child centered programs already in operation to serve both the children and their caregivers with a focus on moving the family out of poverty.

$5 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (DWD 7002-1075)

The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund supports workforce training for high demand jobs. These programs reflect best practices in workforce development including collaborations between employers, education programs and community based organizations.

Include language for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) (DTA 4403-2000) to ensure Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are NOT counted in determining eligibility for TAFDC

Including this language would prevent a cut or reduction in benefits to children in 5,800 families because a member of the family is severely disabled and gets SSI. Families losing benefits will not be able to pay rent and are at a high risk of becoming homeless.

$4 million for the Learn to Earn program (DWD 7002-1080)

The new Learn to Earn program would create pilot programs to provide credentials or degrees and employment for unemployed and underemployed individuals in occupations in high demand fields through partnerships with public agencies, businesses, community based organizations, and career centers. Flexible funding would be provided to address barriers to employment including benefit loss due to work, transportation and child care.

Click here to view the full list of FY18 Budget Priorities.

Passed Legislation!

An Act to Establish Pay Equity

Great news! On Monday, August 2, 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act to Establish Pay Equity (S2119) into law. Massachusetts now has the most comprehensive equal pay law in the country.

The new law:

  • Provides the most comprehensive definition of comparable work of any state in the nation
  • Encourages employers to conduct internal reviews of their payroll to ensure equitable compensation within industry standards
  • Prevents employers from asking job applicants about their previous salary history during the interview process
  • Protects employees from termination for discussing their compensation with co-workers and colleagues

Many thanks to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition led by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, the Women’s Bar Association and Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women as well as the bill sponsors, Senator Jehlen, Representative Livingstone and Representative Story, for their leadership and steadfast advocacy.