Gun Legislation Passed

The following (from the Bostonglobe.com) presents information on the legislation that has been passed.

Lawmakers agree on deal to tighten Mass. gun laws; By David Scharfenberg and Michael Levenson;| Globe Staff   July 31, 2014
      “George N. Peterson Jr., a Grafton Republican, held up a firearms identification card application while testifying during a hearing on gun rights laws at the Statehouse in Boston, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. George N. Peterson Jr., a Grafton Republican, held up a firearms identification card application while testifying during a hearing on gun rights laws at the Statehouse in Boston, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Massachusetts House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Wednesday night on legislation that would tighten what are already some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Police departments could go to court to keep rifles and shotguns out of the hands of people they deem dangerous under a compromise worked out by the lawmakers. The new legislation, crafted in response to the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Conn., would also require the state to join a national database for criminal and mental health background checks and mandate that schools develop plans for students’ mental health needs. “My sense is there should be enough votes to pass it in both houses,” said Representative George N. Peterson Jr., a Grafton Republican who served on the conference committee that worked out the agreement. With lawmakers racing to meet the Thursday deadline for passing legislation this session, House and Senate negotiators also reached agreement to establish a sales tax holiday on Aug. 16 and 17 and came to a deal on a separate bill to strengthen the state’s domestic violence law. Governor Deval Patrick alluded to the time crunch Wednesday when he signed into law one of the major bills that has reached his desk, a measure aimed at curbing harassment outside abortion clinics. “There’s a lot of business before the Legislature, which is why I am going to keep my comments brief, and let you all get back to work,” he said, prompting chuckles from House and Senate members who were bracing for late-night sessions. The conflict between the two chambers on the gun bill centered on a provision in the original House bill that gave police broad discretion to deny a license for a shotgun or rifle to anyone they deem unsuitable. Existing law gives police that discretion to deny a handgun permit. “Obviously, the suitability issue was the main sticking point,” said Representative Ronald Mariano, a Quincy Democrat who served on the conference committee. Hunters and civil liberties groups alike believed the House provision was overreaching. The Senate voted two weeks ago to strip it out of its version of the gun bill. That created the main flashpoint between the two chambers. And while negotiators ultimately agreed to give the police new powers, they limited those powers. Under the legislation, a police department that aims to deny, suspend, or revoke a shotgun or rifle license could not do so unilaterally. It must file a petition in court, with a written notice explaining the reasons. The court must base its decision, under the law, on “reliable, articulable, and credible information” that suggests one “could potentially create a risk to public safety.” Advocates on both sides of the bill were still digesting the latest version of the legislation Wednesday night. Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League, said that at first glance the bill looked promising. “It looks pretty good,” he said. “I’m really hoping it’s something we can support.” John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence, said he was disappointed the agreement did not give chiefs the unilateral authority to deny permits for rifles and shotguns, but called the bill a step forward nonetheless. “It’s certainly a burden on chiefs who are simply trying to save lives, but it’s a compromise,” Rosenthal said. “It does give police chiefs discretion, and the check and balance with the court, which is far better than nothing.” …(sic…remaining sections of article not related to the gun legislation)

Minimum Wage Passes; Earned Sick Time to Ballot

On June 18, 2014, the House passed a bill raising the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $11 an hour over 3 years  the Senate passed this bill and the Governor signed it on Thurs. June 26.

This is a BIG BIG BIG VICTORY for justice and dignity for hard working low wage earners. Over 600,000 low wage earners will get wage increases; These wage increases will total over $1 billion dollars; At $11 an hour, our state will have the highest state minimum wage law in the country, which will enable other states to consider raising their minimum wage law levels more than they otherwise would have. This only happened because we collected over 360,000 signatures!!! Thousands of volunteers from many hundreds of congregations, community organizations, and labor unions working together in Raise UP Massachusetts collected over 360,000 signatures to qualify “Raising the Minimum Wage” as a ballot question. House Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray publicly stated that they had to take this up because we had the signatures to place it on the ballot. JALSA gathered about 9,000 signatures to raise up our working sisters and brothers across Massachusetts. Almost 800 of these signatures came via the Tzedek Reflections collaboration with many local synagogues and organizations working on income inequality. $11 an hour represents a raise of over $6,000 every year for minimum wage workers. This is a huge win for low wage workers, but it is not yet a living wage. We will continue working on this important economic justice issue until all workers receive a sufficient hourly raise to maintain their families and to work with dignity.

Earned Sick Time is going to the ballot!! Earned sick time is an issue that JALSA has been fighting for for 6 years, and we look forward to working with you to get it passed this Fall! NOTE: On Monday June 30 we delivered signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

Thank you so much for all that you have done to bring us forward in this campaign for dignity and justice. Thanks, Sheila Decter, Barbara Gutman, Cindy Rowe, Erica Rothschild and all our members and friends who collected signatures.

Who is affected by the Minimum Wage legislation? 1 in 5 workers benefit in MA; 57% are women; 140,000 are parents; 236,000 children live in households where either the sole wage earner or at least one wage earner earns low wages that would be raised $1.1 billion when fully phased in which will help these low wage earners AND help our state economy retain and create jobs since most of these wage increases will be spent right back in our economy 85% of the affected low wage earners are 20+ and most of the younger workers are either using part of the wages to support their lower wage earning family and/or saving for college

The Domestic workers bill passed too! What does that mean? Domestic workers who work over 16 hours a week will get a contract from employers outlining their terms of employment: This will ensure that workers will get paid for the hours they work and that they are not taken advantage of. Domestic workers will be able to go to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination for sexual harassment complaints and for other forms of discrimination; Domestic workers will be ensured one day off in a seven day period and one weekend off in a month; Domestic workers will have parental leave; Domestic workers will have meal and rest breaks; Domestic workers will be protected from illegal charges for food and lodging and eviction without notice; The Attorney General will enforce this bill. This is a huge victory!! Congrats to all the activists that fought for this!