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News Briefs: Pay equity legislation; Senate passes climate plan

The climate change measure sets in place an emissions limit for 2030 35 percent to 45 percent below the 1990 emissions level.

Senate advances pay equity legislation

Boston — The Massachusetts Senate passed legislation yesterday to strengthen the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act and further close the wage gap between male and female workers in the Commonwealth. S.2107, sponsored by Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), seeks to bridge the wage gap by ensuring equal pay for comparable work, establishing pay transparency, and requiring fairness in hiring practices.

The bill strengthens current law by defining the term “comparable work” within the Act to ensure comparable work is truly comparable in pay and prohibits employers from reducing the pay of any employee in order to comply with the Act.

The bill also encourages pay transparency while ensuring that salary history is not used against employees when negotiating for a new job, prohibits employers from banning employees from discussing or disclosing information about their own wages or other employees’ wages, and prohibits employers from screening prospective employees based on previous wages or salary history or requesting this information in the interview process.

The bill also prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes any act in violation of the Act, files a complaint, participates in an investigation, or discusses wages with another employee.

In addition the bill includes several updates to the way a pay equity claim may be filed to make it easier for individuals to make timely claims and ease administrative barriers to filing a pay equity claim.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.


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Senate passes climate adaptation management plan

Boston — On Wednesday, January 27, the Massachusetts Senate passed S.2092, a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a long-term, comprehensive adaptation management action plan to address the consequences of climate change in the Commonwealth.

Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, the bill sets in place an emissions limit for 2030 35 percent to 45 percent below the 1990 emissions level, and an emissions limit for 2040 55 percent to 65 percent below the 1990 emissions level. The interim requirements would be accompanied by plans to achieve the limits, maximizing the ability of the Commonwealth to meet the 2050 statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits already in place through the Global Warming Solutions Act.

The Senate also passed a comprehensive climate change adaptation management plan for the Commonwealth, previously passed in July but removed from legislative action by the House of Representatives. Under this legislation a comprehensive adaptation management action plan would be established through a collaboration led by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Secretary of Public Safety and Security. The plan would codify for current and all future administrations the goals, priorities, and principles for resiliency, preservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of the Commonwealth’s built and natural infrastructure based on data around existing and projected climate change impacts including temperature changes, drought, inland flooding and sea level rise.

Through the legislation, an advisory committee would be established to produce a report that would document the preparedness and vulnerabilities in the Commonwealth’s emergency response, energy, transportation, communications, health, and other systems. The group would also put forth a proposal to institute and commit to sound management practices while compiling data on existing and projected sea-level rise using the best available science.

The legislation also establishes a grant program to aid in the development of regional adaptation plans and creates a coastal buy-back program authorizing the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to acquire, by voluntary purchase, property abutting areas subject to tides or barrier beaches or located in velocity zones of flood plain areas that contain structures repeatedly damaged by severe weather. The plan would go into effect in 2018 with an update every 10 years.


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