In 2021 we are advocating for:
|School Resource Officers in School||HD 2534||Sabadosa||Gets SRO’s out of schools|
|Alternatives for Community Emergency Services||HD 3807||Sabadosa||Establish Alternatives for Community Services grant program to increase non-police response|
|Decarceration & COVID-19||HD 3265||Sabadosa||Decarcerate individuals who pose no immediate threat after 14 days to limit their risk of COVID-19 exposure|
|Raise the Age||HD 1432||O’Day & Khan||Increases the age of criminal majority from 18 to 21 over the next 5 years|
|School Discipline & Expulsion||HD 1335||Meschino||Prevents students accused of crime from being excluded from school without due process|
|Safe Communities Act||
Balser & Miranda
|Ensure court and police officials do not inquire about immigration status unless required by law|
|Juvenile Justice Data Collection||
|Collect accurate and comprehensive data on juvenile interaction with law enforcement|
|Work & Family Mobility Act||Sabadosa||Provide drivers licenses for undocumented citizens|
|Campaign funds for childcare||SD 994
|Jehlen||Candidates running for public office can use their campaign funds for their childcare needs|
|Affordable and accessible childcare for all||
Gordon & Madaro
Lewis & Moran
|The state would provide affordable and accessible early education and childcare|
|Wage transparency||SD 414||Jehlen||Employer shall provide pay scale for employee/applicant|
|Homelessness Bill of Rights||Pignatelli & Rausch||Provide a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness|
|I AM||Jehlen & Livingstone||Increase Access to Menstrual products in k-12 schools, prisons/jails, and shelters|
|Medication Abortion at Public Universities||HD 2246||Sabadosa||Require public universities to provide medication abortion|
|Healthy Youth Act||
|Provide comprehensive and inclusive sex ed in all public schools|
|PrEP Access for Youth||SD 1614||Cyr||Increase HIV prevention access for young adults|
|Licensed Midwives||HD 3250||Khan & Sabadosa||Expanding licensing for midwives|
|Out of Hospital Birth Access and Safety Act||Khan & Rausch||Creates a process of licensure for certified Midwives, and increases access to maternal care|
|End Child Marriage||
|A magistrate or minister will not marry someone if a person is under the age of 18|
|Sex Work||HD 2200||Sabadosa||Promote the health and safety of people working in the sex trade|
|Student Mental Health||
|Comerford||Include on the back of student id cards for public and charter schools, the number to the suicide prevention hotline|
|Votes Act||HD 1536||Lawn||Expand and improve mail-in voting, and lengthen in person-voting|
|Parity on Boards||
|Ensure gender parity and racial and ethnic diversity on public boards and commissions|
|Protect the Voting Rights of Eligible Incarcerated People||
Tyler & Miranda
|Providing assistance to eligible incarcerated persons to register as voters and apply for mail ballots in all primaries and elections|
Previous Legislative Priorities
The 191st Legislative Session was unlike any before – ending just the night before the following legislative session started.
We started off the legislative session in April of 2019 finally passing SD1502: An Act Relative to Abuse Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors, making Massachusetts the 16th state to ban gender conversion therapy. This bill bans deceptive conversion practices that aim to change a minor’s same-sex attraction or gender identity. It also prohibited licensed medical health and human service professionals from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
On Aug. 6, Governor Baker signed House Bill 4606, An Act relative to the penalties for the crime of female genital mutilation (FGM), making Massachusetts the 39th state to criminalize FGM.
The Massachusetts legislature thankfully overrode Governor Baker’s veto and passed legislation to enshrines abortion rights in state law and expands access to 16-year-olds. The ROE Act improves much needed access to abortion by lowering the age at which individuals can seek an abortion without the consent of a parent or a judge from 18 to 16.
On January 12, 2021 Governor Baker signed an H.1209 An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses into law, impact over 150,000 college and university students and survivors in Massachusetts. . Specifically, the legislation ensures access to free medical and legal support services, anti-retaliation protections for reporting parties from being punished for breaking school code of conduct at the time of an assault, confidential advising services that clarify survivors’ rights & options, transparent data on sexual violence, gathered anonymously and published publicly, universal, evidence-based annual prevention and response training for employees and students
On January 14th, Governor Baker signed the Economic Development Bond Bill, including an amendment allocating $500,000 to provide menstrual products to people in homeless shelters and temporary housing! We believe this is the first time the Massachusetts legislature has made a fiscal commitment to menstrual equity – ever.
An Act to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters and Public Schools: HD2272/SD1381 (I AM. bill)
This bill would provide access to free menstrual products to all menstruating individuals in prisons, homeless shelters and public schools from 6th-12th grade. The bill also contains language to ensure the products are truly accessible without stigmatizing the individual seeking them. Mass NOW co-wrote this bill with Sen. Jehlen and Rep. Livingstone’s offices, and is taking the lead on building an intersectional coalition to advocate for this measure.
An Act to Protect the Civil Rights and Safety of All Massachusetts Residents: HD1500/SD926 (Safe Communities Act)
Bars law enforcement and court personnel from asking people about their status unless required by law. Protects due process by informing people of their right to decline and requiring police to obtain consent before allowing ICE to question someone in local custody. Limits notifications to ICE and bars 287(g) consent agreements which allow state and country personnel from acting as federal immigration agents. The bill also requires training and accountability. Mass NOW is collaborating with the Massachusetts Safe Communities Coalition to promote action days, call in campaigns, and other advocacy to promote this measure.
An Act Relative to the Scheduling of Employees: SD1881 (Fair Scheduling bill)
The bill would require certain employers to provide employees with a good faith estimate of their work schedule, including the expected number of work hours among other things. The bill would also give employees the right to make work schedule requests and provide employees predictability pay when schedule changes are not done in the prescribed manner. Mass NOW is collaborating with the Fair Scheduling Committee to promote action days, call in campaigns, and other advocacy to promote this measure.
An Act Relative to Healthy Youth: HD827/SD579 (Healthy Youth Act)
This bill would ensure that a comprehensive curriculum is taught in public schools which offer sex education. This would include helping students learn the benefits of delaying sex, how to prevent STIs and pregnancy, creating a culture of consent, recognizing LGBTQ youth health needs and giving students tools to create healthy relationships. Mass NOW is collaborating with Planned Parenthood of MA and other organizations to promote action days, call in campaigns, and other advocacy to promote this measure.
An Act Supporting Parents Running for Public Office: SD304
This bill would allow state and local candidates to use campaign funds for childcare services. Mass NOW is collaborating with childcare advocates as well as bill sponsor Sen. Jehlen to promote action days, call in campaigns, and other advocacy to promote this measure.
An Act Relative to Affordable and Accessible High Quality Early Education and Care: HD1879/SD1744
The bill aims to make high quality early education and childcare affordable and accessible to all MA families using a sliding-scale fee structure.
An Act to End Child Marriage: HD583/SD343
This bill would make 18 years old the minimum age to marry in MA.
An Act Relative to Female Genital Mutilation: SD617
This bill would create a program of education, prevention and outreach for communities that commonly practice female genital mutilation, as well as education for health officials and other who may come into contact with victims or potential victims of female genital mutilation. The bill also creates a legal claim for genital mutilation no matter where it occurred, and criminalizes efforts to assist in genital mutilation, including taking a girl outside of the state to undergo the procedure.
MA Healthy Workplace: SD1355
The bill creates a legal claim for bullying targets who can prove they were subjected to malicious health-harming behavior. The bill also creates defenses for employers who act responsibly to prevent such behavior and discourages frivolous claims.
Out of Hospital Birth Access and Safety Act: HD2959/SD1570
This bill would integrate midwifery into the MA maternity care system, giving pregnant individuals equitable access to midwives and out of hospital birth options. It would also require midwives to be licensed, helping to ensure positive health outcomes and cost savings.
An Act relative to advancing contraception coverage and economic security in our state (S.499, H.536)
The Problem: The Affordable Care Act, which ensures access to no-copay birth control, is under threat and barriers to affordable birth control persist, which could make birth control inaccessible for many in Massachusetts. The Solution: Strengthen state law to ensure access to birth control without cost-sharing while improving access to the full range of contraceptive options and removing existing barriers to care.
The ACCESS bill was signed into law by Governor Baker on November 20, 2018!
An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave and Temporary Disability Insurance Program (S1048, H2172)
No one should have to choose between their job and caring for a sick family member or a new child. And yet, nearly 40% of workers in the state (1.2 million) are not guaranteed leave under the federal unpaid leave law because they work for companies with fewer than 50 employees. Further, unpaid leave is not a financially viable option for most working families, particularly low-income and single parent households. Many face financial hardship if they have to leave a job that puts food on the table to care for a family member that they love.
In a major win for working families, the Massachusetts Legislature passed and the Governor signed groundbreaking paid family and medical leave legislation into law in 2018!
Massachusetts Safe Communities Act (S1305, H3269)
An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S/234, H.2053)
An Act Relative to Improve the Commonwealth’s Economy with a Strong Minimum Wage and Strong Tipped Minimum Wage (S.1004, H2365)
An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity (S.62, H.1190)
An Act to Increase Neighborhood Safety and Opportunity (S.64, H.1429)
On Monday, August 1, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed S.2119, An Act to Establish Pay Equity, into Massachusetts law. This historic signing celebrated the most comprehensive pay equity law in the United States.
Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to pass an equal pay law in 1945. The first federal equal pay law was passed in 1963 but the efforts of both of these pieces of legislation failed to effectively curb gender wage discrimination. Currently, women in Massachusetts earn 81% of their male counterparts with black women earning 66 cents and Latino women earning only 54 cents to the male dollar.
The new pay equity law is the first in the nation to banish the requirement of salary history during the hiring process. This will help both women and men – of all races – advocate for the salary they deserve during the interview and hiring process. Massachusetts will also be the first state to provide protection for businesses in the general law should they do a good faith audit of pay practices and undertake steps to correct pay discrepancies. Maine is the only state that has this in their regulations, Massachusetts will now have this codified in the general laws.
The pay equity law will also allow employees to discuss their salary and compensation without fear of being retaliated against by their employer. Workers in historic pink ghettos may now receive the same rate of pay as their fellow male employees for doing work which requires similar skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions regardless of whether the work is identical or has common characteristics.
The Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition, a group of non-profits, unions and other organizations hoping to eliminate the wage gap for women and people of color, have been working on passing this legislation since the beginning of the 2015-2016 legislative session.
PASSED! An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public (transgender public accommodation)
Rep. Carl Sciortino, HD1172. Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz SD568
The Equal Access Bill would ad “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations, which currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, and marital status.
PASSED! An Act Relative to Prevent Shackling and Promote Safe Pregnancies for Female Inmates
Rep. Kay Kahn, HD00826, Sen. Karen Spilka, SD447
This bill would establish minimum standards for the treatment and medical care of female inmates, would promote safe and healthy pregnancy outcomes, prohibit shackling of women during childbirth, and ensure that release planning includes child custody and basic family planning information and services.
PASSED! An Act Relative to Establishing Paid Sick Time
Rep. Kay Khan, HD00504, Sen. Patricia Jehlen, SD861
Currently, almost half of private sector workers in Massachusetts do not have a single paid sick day. Women are disproportionately affected by a lack of paid sick days, as they remain the primary caregivers for children and elderly relatives, and must take time off from our jobs to care for them. This legislation would provide guaranteed earned sick time to ALL employees in Massachusetts.
An Act Relative to Consent and Counseling of Pregnant Women under Sixteen Years of Age
Rep. Ellen Story, HD00126
Currently, minors in Massachusetts seeking an abortion must obtain permission from at least one of their parents/guardians or seek a judicial bypass. This legislation would allow young women, who may be unable to discuss their situation with their parents, to seek counseling from a trained medical professional in lieu of seeking a court order. It would also lower the age of consent for abortion from 18 to 16.
An Act Relative to Responsible Counseling
Rep. David Linsky, HD00218 Sen. Katherine Clark, SD0035
For young women who still face an unintended pregnancy, we should ensure that they have a range of responsible adults to turn to. This bill allows other responsible family members, such as a grandparent or substantially older sibling, to provide legal consent for abortion. In addition, this bill provides a young woman to seek counseling from a trained medical professional in lieu of a court order as a way to increase her opportunities to get the kind of guidance she needs when facing an unintended pregnancy.
An Act Relative to Further Defining Comparable Work
Rep. Ellen Story, HD00968
Current Massachusetts law does not define comparable work in terms of gender pay disparity. This legislation would define the term as “solely based on whether the two positions entail comparable skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions between employees of the opposite sex,” thereby clarifying current law and working to eradicate the wage gap and pay discrimination.
An Act Relative to Healthy Youth
Rep. James O’Day HD00360 , Sen Katherine Clark SD0034
This legislation would ensure that schools offering sex education provide young people with age-appropriate, medically accurate information about the benefits of abstinence and delaying sexual activity, as well as effective use of contraceptives and the skills needed to form healthy, respectful relationships.
An Act Relative to Employee Protection (The Abusive Waivers Prevention Act)
Rep. Stephen Brewer. HD1403, SD457
This bill would make it illegal for employers to require their employees to sign pre-dispute waivers of rights at the onset of their employment. Pre-dispute waivers limit employees’ ability to file suit for discriminatory employer policies and practices. These waivers disproportionately affect women, who may be victims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
An Act Relative to Updating the Laws to Protect Women’s Health
Rep. Ellen Story, HD00125, Sen. Harriette Chandler, SD0069
This bill would repeal outdated, unconstitutional, and archaic laws that remain on the books in Massachusetts. It would ensure that abortion rights are upheld in the Commonwealth should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned.
An Act Relative to Prohibiting Discrimination in Insurance Policies
Rep. Ruth Balser, HD1265, Sen. Katherine Clark, SD338
This bill would take the final step and require that state-regulated disability and life insurance policies sold to Massachusetts residents are gender neutral in all the terms and conditions of the contracts, including premiums and benefits.
An Act Relative to Providing for Equitable Coverage in Disability Policies
Rep. Ruth Balser, HD1269, Sen. Katherine Clark, SD00338,
This legislation does the same as An Act Relative to Prohibiting Discrimination in Insurance; however, it focuses only on disability insurance.