2017-2018 Legislative Priorities

Our Legislative and Public Policy Committee, lead by our mission and public hearing testimony, are prioritizing advocacy for the following bills of the 2017-2018 session



1. An Act Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in Our State (ACCESS) (S.499/H.536)

Lead Sponsors: Sen. Harriette ChandlerRep. Patricia Haddad and Rep. 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. An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.3680) - Signed into law by the Governor in July!

Lead Sponsors: Sen. Joan Lovely and Rep. David Rogers

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.


3. An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (S.1048/H.2172)

Lead Sponsors: Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Kenneth Gordon

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.


4. An Act Establishing Three New Commissions on the Status of Women and Girls (S.1119/H.1110)

Lead Sponsor: Sen. Michael Brady and Sen. Viriato deMacedoRep. Elizabeth Poirier and Rep. Christine Barber

This bill would establish three new regional commissions on the status of women and girls: an Eastern Regional Commission, an Upper Middlesex Commission, and a Plymouth County Commission. The role of the regional commissions is to review the status of women in the communities and then make recommendations regarding policies and programs that would increase opportunities and equalities.  The commissions are required to file an annual report on activities, findings, and recommendations.  Members will serve three year terms in a volunteer capacity.


5. An Act Establishing Just Schedules for Employees (H.3144)

Lead Sponsor: 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.


6. An Act Providing for Equitable Coverage in Disability Policies (S.545/H.482)

Lead Sponsors: Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Ruth Balser

This bill would end sex discrimination in disability insurance policies. Currently, state-regulated disability insurance is classified by sex, and filings at the Division of Insurance show different premiums for men and women with the same job classification. Women pay upwards of 75% more than their male co-workers do for the same insurance. Passing this legislation would end this discrimination and would put disability insurance amongst the many other types of insurance that are legally barred from discriminating based on sex.


7. An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S.2128/H.3704)

Lead Sponsors: Sen. Sal DiDomenicoRep. James O'Day and Rep. Paul Brodeur

This bill calls for age-appropriate and medically accurate sexual health education in each school district or public school that currently offers sexual health education. The bill promotes the benefits of abstinence and delay of sexual activity while also addressing the contraceptive and proper barrier methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Further, the bill also establishes the need for a written policy of curriculum notification for parents and guardians of students receiving sexual health education in their native language.


8. An Act to Protect Girls from Female Genital Mutilation (S.788/H.2333)

Filed BySen. Hariette ChandlerRep. Sarah Peake

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.




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