FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WOMEN’S BAR ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
OF THE 2021-2022 SESSION
WBA Honors Senator Cindy Friedman with 2022 Public Official of the Year Award
BOSTON, MA – February 16, 2022 – Today, the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts (WBA) presented its 2021-2022 Legislative Agenda to legislators, WBA members and coalition partners during its annual Legislative Breakfast. This event, hosted by the WBA’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) and held virtually this year, serves as a platform for the WBA to outline its pressing legislative priorities.
WBA President-Elect Kristy Lavigne highlighted the LPC's integral advocacy role in furthering the WBA's mission and noted the WBA's legislative accomplishments to date during the 2021 session, remarking, "Our successes remind us that our collective voices have the ability to influence the process and effect change. With over 1,400 members, we can and do make a difference."
President-Elect Lavigne then presented Senator Cindy Friedman with the 2022 Public Official of Year Award for her distinguished leadership on policy issues that impact women and children and her unwavering support for women attorneys and women-led organizations like the WBA. Senator Cindy Friedman spoke of her passion for advocating for working families and women’s reproductive rights and stressed that good policy requires active participation by constituents and organizations.
Additional speakers spoke in support of the WBA’s legislative priorities for 2022:
· Senator Cynthia Stone Creem advocated for Civil Legal Aid Funding (Line Item 0321-1600) FY23 Budget request of $41 million remarking that civil legal aid should be a right not a privilege. Insufficient funding forces legal aid organizations to turn away the majority of eligible people who seek help. This funding is vital to ensure that low-income people with critical, noncriminal legal problems would have access to legal information, advice and representation.
· Representatives Nika Elugardo and Jay Livingstone expressed their support of HB 2018/SB 1173 - Act Relative to Employment Protections for Victims of Abusive Behaviors (“Protected At Work”), because an employer should not be able to fire someone simply because they are the victim of abuse. The bill addresses gaps in current law that leave victims of abusive behavior vulnerable at work. This bill adds to existing employment nondiscrimination laws a prohibition again discrimination based on status as a victim of abusive behavior.
· Representative Chynah Tyler spoke in favor of HB 1900/SB 1559 - Act Relative to Telephone Service for Inmates in all Correctional and Other Penal Institutions in the Commonwealth (“No Cost Calls”), stressing that it is a financial burden on low-income families and puts barriers in place to re-entry. This bill provides telephone calls for no cost to incarcerated people at all state prisons, county jails and houses of correction. The exorbitant fees charged are often prohibitive to the families of incarcerated people who are disproportionately low-income families of color.
· WBA LPC Member and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) Senior Attorney Naomi Meyer championed An Act to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty (HB 199/SB 96) and a relatedFY23 Budget Request seeking to cash assistance grants by 20% each year until they reach half of the federal poverty level (“deep poverty”). This increase will allow families to better meet the basic needs of the Commonwealth’s lowest income children.
WBA LPC Co-Chair Jessica Babine urged action on the WBA’s final legislative priority: An Act Relative to Wage Transparency (H.1950/S.1208) that requires the disclosure of salary ranges leveling the playing field in negotiations, and helps applicants and employees detect and remedy any unjustified pay disparities.
About the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts
Founded in 1978 by a group of activist women lawyers, the Women’s Bar Association (“WBA”) boasts a large membership of women lawyers across Massachusetts. The WBA is committed to the full and equal participation of women in the legal profession and in a just society. The WBA works to achieve this mission through the work of its committees, events, and the development and promotion of a robust legislative agenda to address society’s most critical social and legal issues. Other WBA activities include networking and professional development, amicus advocacy, studying employment issues affecting women, encouraging women to enter the judiciary, recognizing the achievement of women in the law, and providing pro bono services to women in need through its sister organization, the Women’s Bar Foundation. For more information, visit www.womensbar.org.
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