Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Speaker DeLeo Invokes Spirit of Partnership; Outlines Measures to Bolster Massachusetts’ Economy

Speaker DeLeo Invokes Spirit of Partnership; Outlines Measures to Bolster Massachusetts’ Economy

Calls for pregnant worker protections, new substance addiction fund and investments in behavioral health; announces UMass cost-sharing program to benefit local companies

(BOSTON) – Speaking today before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce (GBCC), House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop) backed a plan to ensure significant protections for pregnant women, announced a cost-sharing program at UMass research facilities, and proposed increased investments in children’s mental health services.
Throughout his remarks, Speaker DeLeo referenced Massachusetts’ enduring spirit of collaboration between the government, non-profit, business, and higher education sectors – a tradition that has propelled the state’s economic and social standing. DeLeo also highlighted the House’s philosophy “as arbiters of compromise.”
In announcing that the House will soon take up the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Speaker DeLeo said “we will advance our legacy of translating worthy ideas into workable legislation.” The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act provides essential guarantees and safety measures for pregnant employees including food, water and restroom breaks, and accommodations for nursing needs. It also requires businesses to engage in a collaborative process with their employees to determine effective and reasonable accommodations.
Last month, Speaker DeLeo’s Early Education and Care (EEC) Business Advisory Group released its findings and emphasized the importance of supporting the EEC workforce. To maximize the full potential of the EEC investments planned by the House, Speaker DeLeo highlighted the need to address behavioral health issues early on. He proposed doubling funding for Early Childhood Mental Health Grants to help children at a vulnerable stage when a gap in diagnosis and treatment often exists.
At Speaker DeLeo’s 2016 address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce he launched the Bay State Business Link (BSBL), a joint initiative with GBCC that encourages B2B collaboration across all regions of the Commonwealth and seeks to expand the circle of prosperity beyond Greater Boston. Spurred by a discussion at the December BSBL forum, the House will fund a $2 million cost-sharing partnership to subsidize the cost for local businesses to use UMass labs and equipment. The program aims to support organizations as they seek to get off the ground, grow, or modernize, while at the same time connecting faculty and students with local companies.

In implementing the new marijuana law - a potential $1.1 billion industry - the House, through the Marijuana Committee, will engage in a thorough process examining the proper revenue and governance options for the industry. Speaker DeLeo reviewed numerous facets of implementation and unveiled a plan to use marijuana revenue to combat substance addiction.

“We have a rare opportunity to deploy a new tactic to fight what has become the fastest growing killer of young adults,” he said. “Aided by the state proceeds of marijuana, we will create the Substance Addiction Fund dedicated to addiction and recovery efforts.”

Faced with unprecedented uncertainty and fear in the wake of the Trump Presidency, Speaker DeLeo said the House would protect state residents and help blunt the impact of “Twitter Trumpisms” and executive excesses.

“To help the House assemble an accurate snapshot of how the Administration’s flurry of activity is impacting our state, we will create a House inter-committee working group. The group will engage with House members, delve into data, and help determine what legislative solutions are necessary and feasible.”

Even amidst the new federal climate, Massachusetts will flourish.

“We in Massachusetts have never waited for the world. We act and wait for the world to catch up to us.”

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