Thursday, September 5, 2019

Senate President Karen Spilka: Updates Around the District

Note: The newsletter was shortened for publication here.

Senate Takes Bold Action on Collective Bargaining, Health Care Access, Child Marriage Ban; Legislature Reaches Budget Agreement
Throughout the past few months, the Senate has taken action on a number of important bills, including legislation to support public employee unions, increase health care access, and ban child marriage. The House and Senate reached consensus on a balanced budget for fiscal year 2020 that makes critical investments in education, health care, housing and the environment.

Here is a roundup of recent actions taken by the Senate:

Janus Bill

The Senate passed An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues, which helps protect public unions' ability to effectively represent all workers in labor agreements following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Janus v. AFSCME.

Health Care Access Bills

The Senate passed legislation ensuring consumers have the best information available to meet their health needs. An Act to increase consumer transparency about insurance provider networks would require insurers' provider directories include the most up-to-date list of participating doctors and specialists and their services. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

In addition to providing better health care information, the Senate passed legislation aimed at increasing access to treatment of certain eye conditions. An Act ensuring choice and equal access to eye care would allow a licensed optometrist to diagnose and treat glaucoma and other ocular abnormalities. Massachusetts is currently the only state in the country that does not allow optometrists to perform these services. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Child Marriage Ban

The Senate unanimously passed An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts, which prohibits a person from marrying an individual under the age of 18 years old. Minors who marry adults often lack the resources or means to protect themselves from abusive or coercive relationships. State records show that more than 1,221 children — some as young as 14 — were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Legislature Passes Balanced Budget for Fiscal Year 2020

The Massachusetts Legislature passed its Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $43.1 billion, the budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund's balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.This legislation was signed into law by the Governor.

Office of Senate President Karen E. Spilka | 617-722-1500 |

Office of Senate President Karen E. Spilka | Massachusetts State House, Room 332, Boston, MA 02133

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