Jobs Trust | Equal Pay Act | Justice Involved Women | Community News
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It seems like summer has come and gone at the blink of an eye, and now we are fully into the swing of fall at the State House! Though the Legislature finished its formal session in July, I have been busy with meetings around Somerville and Medford, continuing to work on bills that can still move forward during informal sessions, and getting new proposals ready for next year.
I am excited to announce that in August, Governor Baker signed Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2016 into law, the Somerville Jobs Act. See more on this and other legislative updates (including the Equal Pay Act!) below.
Last month, the Council on State Governments invited me down to Washington D.C. for a Medicaid Leaders conference. I attended with Sen. Jen Flanagan and Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and participants from about 20 states. We discussed ways to keep Medicaid costs down while continuing to provide quality health care and supporting hospitals and community health centers. I'm looking forward to using what I've learned over the next few months.
In between community meetings, advocating for late night MBTA service and the Green Line Extension, and canvassing, I am also busy preparing my priorities for the 2017-2018 legislative session. I plan to file bills addressing the affordable housing shortage, prescription drug costs, and strengthening women’s health care access. Stay tuned for more, and please let me know your ideas for other bills!
This August, Rep. Barber joined DHCD Secretary Jay Ash, MOVA Executive Director Liam Lowny, and the AGO's Chief of Fair Labor Cynthia Mark, on a policy panel for Tufts University's Tisch Summer Fellows.
Legislative Update: Jobs Trust signed by Governor, now law
I’m proud to announce that the Somerville Jobs Trust Act, to help train and place workers in local jobs, was signed into law by the Governor this summer. This law, a culmination of work by the Jobs for Somerville Campaign and city of Somerville, brings us closer to the goal of ensuring that all people in Somerville can find good jobs that pay a living wage. The goal of the program is to connect Somerville residents with career opportunities with Somerville employers.
This bill allows the city to charge linkage fees, or funds from private developers, to the city to help pay for job training, placement and retention. The policy is based on the mechanism Somerville uses to fund affordable housing in the city and the SomerVision plan, Somerville's 20-year comprehensive plan. Many Somerville residents are being left behind amid the growing development in Somerville, particularly people with limited English proficiency or education.This bill will help all of Somerville's residents benefit from development through new training and job opportunities.
Next, the Board of Aldermen will be able to set the linkage fee on development and create the fund for job training. Thanks to all who worked on this issue to support our local residents in finding good jobs!
Supporting incarcerated women and their families
In September, I visited MCI Framingham, the state's only prison for women. As a Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus Task Force on Justice-Involved Women, we had hosted a toy and book drive at the State House to benefit the family visiting rooms at MCI Framingham, which previously had very worn, dated items.
Throughout the summer, so many colleagues and staff in the State House came by my office to donate books, toys and games. Reps Khan, Keefe and I visited MCI Framingham to deliver the donations and talk with some of the incarcerated women. We also met with Superintendent Allison Hallett and her staff.
The women talked about basic needs like having new books to read to their kids when they visit and interactive games to engage with children and teens. We were glad to provide some games and books to help female inmates to have fun and memorable visits with their children. It's a small step, but I look forward to continuing to build our relationships at Framingham and other facilities across the state.
The goal of the Task Force on Justice-Involved Women is to focus attention on women and their families, a growing population in the criminal justice system, through legislation and work with agencies. We have been working on policies that would help unify incarcerated mothers with their children, as well as improve programming for women both in prisons and support when they leave. Stay tuned for more in the upcoming year.
Community events, meetings, and news:
Last day to register to vote: OCTOBER 19
Early Voting - You can now skip the lines and vote early at City Hill starting OCTOBER 24. See more on early voting in Somerville and Medford.
Don't forget ELECTION DAY is NOVEMBER 8th!
October 23rd, 1-4PM
Andrews Middle School
A fall festival to celebrate Medford's diversity and community members. Stop by to enjoy live music, performances, activities for all ages, and exhibitsfrom local Medford organizations. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
Somerville's North Street Apt Redevelopment Mtgs
October 19, 6:30-8:30PM &
November 14, 6:30 - 8:30PM
West Somerville Neighborhood School
The Somerville Housing Authority is working with a private development team to revitalize the Clarendon Hill/North Street development - preserving existing affordable housing and building new market-rate housing. All residents and stakeholders are encouraged to attend.
Greater Somerville Check out Christine on a recent episode of SCATV's Greater Somerville, talking about legislative priorities, ballot questions and GLX with host Joe Lynch.
Equal Pay passes!
I was honored to stand with my colleagues and those who have worked for Equal Pay, including the Everett cafeteria workers, as Equal Pay was signed into law in Massachusetts a few weeks ago. After a unanimous vote in the House, this law updates the Commonwealth’s statute requiring equal pay for comparable work for the first time since 1945, and addresses some of the more entrenched policies that keep the wage gap stagnant, even as women’s educational and skill levels in recent decades match those of men.
Women make up half the workforce, and the majority of breadwinners in single-parent families. Now, as we face rising economic inequality, policies like equal pay help families and children get the opportunities they need to succeed. This legislation was long overdue, and is now the strongest law in the country.
The law has a three-pronged approach:
First, because employers often have difficulty in defining “comparable work,” in a way that goes beyond job title and description, the new law will help define this concept, and require equal pay in jobs that are similar in content, skill, and responsibility.
Second, the law protects employees and affirms their ability to discuss wages by prohibiting employers from forbidding or threatening disciplinary actions for any such discussions.
Finally, the bill prevents employers from asking about pay history until after an offer of employment and compensation has been made - specifically tackling the cycle that women face of getting beyond a certain salary once they are underpaid.
With clearer guidelines for employers to work toward equal pay, this legislation will go a long way in addressing current challenges. I am proud that, once again, Massachusetts is a leader in social and economic change!
News and Announcements
I am proud to announce that I was recently appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the Autism Commission. As the only Democratic House member, I will work with other commissioners to develop recommendations for Massachusetts to better serve the health, education and developmental needs of people with autism. See more here.
Hallmark Health, which runs Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford, recently announced plans to merge with Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General in a new partnership called Wellforce. This merger should keep the health care needs of the Medford community a top priority. I recently wrote comments in support of this merger, with the caveat that the new health system engage in a robust outreach and feedback process with the community to meet all local health needs.
Get in touch!
Upcoming Office Hours
Saturday, October 22nd
WIth Sen. Jehlen, Alderman Ballantyne and School Committee Member Normand!
Saturday, October 29th
Winter Hill Brewing Company
Friday, November 4th
Danish Pastry House
Wednesday, November 30th
Medford Council on Aging
Or contact me any time:
Call the office: 617-722-2430
Reach me at home: 617-410-6025
Or stop by the State House:
Come by Room 236 to meet my aide, Claire, or email her to make an appointment with me.
If you have other ideas for me to provide updates and stay in touch, please let me know!