YW Boston progresses towards 2020 Advocacy Priorities
YW Boston’s advocacy agenda is one crucial way that we further our goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed. Currently in its fourth year, the YW Boston Advocacy Committee promotes the organization’s legislative priorities related to racial and gender equity. As we are currently in the second year of Massachusetts’s two-year legislative session, we are working to ensure that key pieces of legislation become law. Learn more about our 2020 priority legislation, and where each stand in the legislative process, below:
An Act to Ensure Gender Parity and Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Public Boards and Commissions (H. 4153)
For a little over a year, YW Boston has led the Parity on Board Coalition, the coalition leading the charge to achieve diversity on Massachusetts public boards and commissions. In Massachusetts, women and people of color account for 52% and 28% respectively, of the state’s population yet are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions. An Act to Ensure Gender Parity and Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Public Boards and Commissions (H. 4153) would promote diversity in leadership and governance that broadly reflects the demographics of our Commonwealth.
In October 2019, the bill was reported favorably from the House Ways and Means committee. To help advance this bill, contact your State Representative and urge them to support H.4153 and to contact House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo to ask for quick passage of this bill in the House of Representatives. You can also sign up to become a Parity on Board coalition member, as well as follow the coalition on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In order to increase diversity on Massachusetts public boards and commissions, the Parity on Board coalition is also educating women and people of color in Massachusetts about how to join one. You can learn more by visiting our recent blog posts: “Why joining a public board should be one of your New Year’s resolutions” and “How to join a public board or commission in Massachusetts”.
YW Boston is a major supporter of An Act Supporting Parents Running for Public Office (S.408/H.639), which will allow candidates for Massachusetts state office to use campaign funds to cover childcare costs. Massachusetts is one of the few states that disallows this allocation, which makes it nearly impossible for working parents (and particularly women of color) to run for office. In 2018, the Federal Election Commission ruled that federal candidates can use campaign funds to pay for child care costs resulting from time spent running for office. However, those running to hold state office do not have this option. YW Boston supports this bill in conjunction with the national Campaign Funds for Childcare Coalition, led by Rutgers University.
This bill has been submitted to the state’s Joint Committee on Election Laws. To help advance this bill, contact your State Representative and urge them to support S.408/H.639. In particular, it would be impactful if parents who have run or are considering running for office call their legislators. Personal stories are crucial in the passing of this bill.
For its entire tenure, YW Boston’s Advocacy Committee has been dedicated to addressing the school to prison pipeline. Massachusetts is the fourth worst state in the United States in terms of racial inequality and juvenile incarceration, which disproportionally affects youth of color.
Currently, the committee is most involved in advocating for An Act improving juvenile justice data collection (1386/H.2141) which will ensure that more clear and consistent data is collected on juvenile justice. Federal law requires the collection of data on race and ethnicity at each decision point in the juvenile justice system. Forty-six states are in compliance with this law, but Massachusetts is not. For this reason, we do not have crucial information such as how many youth who are charged in court are found to be delinquent and how many youth are given “adult” sentences. Passing this legislation is a step to ensure all reforms are based on sound data. YW Boston supports this bill in conjunction with the Citizens for Juvenile Justice Coalition.
Earlier this year, this legislation was reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Both the House and Senate bills are current in their respective Ways and Means committees. To help advance this bill, contact your State Representative and urge them to support S.1386/H.2141 to move from Ways and Means.
An Act relative to wage transparency (H.4464)
In May 2020, the YW Boston Advocacy Committee approved the adoption of another piece of priority legislation to support wage transparency in Massachusetts. YW Boston previously supported the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, which went into effect in 2018. The law defines what may be justifications for a difference in pay between colleagues, in order to stop pay disparity, and prevents prospective employers from asking job applicants about their current salary. An Act relative to wage transparency (H.4464) furthers the success of the Equal Pay Act by requiring employers to provide pay scale if requested by a job applicant or by an employee about their current position. This bill is led by the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement and is endorsed by the Massachusetts Coalition on the Status of Women.
This bill was reported favorably out of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, and has been reported to the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling committee. To help advance this bill, contact your State Representative and urge them to support H.4464.
Legislation endorsed by YW Boston
The four pieces of legislation listed above are YW Boston’s top priorities. We have also endorsed a number of pieces of legislation. They are:
- An Act ensuring high quality early education (H.4291) provides further access for low-income children to early education programs and mental health screening. This bill currently resides in House Ways and Means Committee.
- An Act relative to the scheduling of employees (S.1110) would require employers, upon hiring a new employee, to provide that employee with a written, good faith estimate of the employee’s work schedule. This bill has been referred to Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Committee.
- An Act to further provide a rental arrearage program (H.1264) would require the department of housing and community development administer a rental and mortgage arrearage assistance program for households whose incomes are at or below 50 per cent of the area median income and who are at risk of eviction or foreclosure within the next 12 months. This bill currently resides in House Ways and Means Committee.
- An Act ensuring municipal participation of the widest eligible range (H.720/S.389) would lower the legal voting age to 16+ for municipal elections. The bills were referred to the Joint Committee on Election Laws.
- An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters, and public schools (H.1959/S.1274). The bill would widen access to menstrual products in the previously mentioned spaces. The House bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the Senate bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
- An Act to promote the education success of court involved children (H.531) entitles accused children the right to due process and establishes what types of student behavior pose a risk of danger at school. The bill currently resides in the Education Committee.
Help us pass legislation that advances gender and racial equity in the Commonwealth
Each of the bills that YW Boston supports are crucial in advancing equity in Massachusetts. We urge you to support legislation – each of them, or a few that are particularly important to you – and make them law. As a reminder, here are a few ways you can help advance our priority legislation:
- Contact your State Representative and urge them to support:
- An Act to Ensure Gender Parity and Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Public Boards and Commissions (H. 4153), and to contact House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo to ask for quick passage of this bill in the House of Representatives. Sign up to become a Parity on Board coalition member.
- An Act Supporting Parents Running for Public Office (S.408/H.639), contact your State Representative. In particular, it would be impactful if parents who have run or are considering running for office call their legislators. Personal stories are crucial in the passing of this bill.
- Advancing An Act improving juvenile justice data collection (S.1386/H.2141), contact your State Representative and urge them to support S.1386/H.2141 to move from Ways and Means.
About YW Boston
As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.
YW Boston Advocacy Committee
The Advocacy Committee supports YW Boston’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women by engaging elected officials, organizations and the public through legislative advocacy, coalition building, education, and action. The committee develops and implements the organization’s two-year advocacy agenda in order to rectify structural barriers to equity and opportunity for women, girls, and people of color.