Eventually, pregnancy protection bill became Beacon Hill priority
Nothing like a bit of bad press to nudge Beacon Hill legislators to get off the dime — six months later.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo got some bad press last September when the Globe reported that a bill to protect pregnant women from abuse in the workplace was bottled up in his Ways and Means Committee because the state’s major business lobby didn’t like it. It had easily passed the Senate.
Now it’s a top House priority, after concerns raised by Associated Industries of Massachusetts were addressed, and is on the fast track — at least by State House definitions — to get to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk.
The joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the legislation, which proponents claim two-thirds of lawmakers are now co-sponsoring. The advocacy group MotherWoman said Thursday it had negotiated with AIM to produce a “well-vetted piece of legislation that meets the needs of both employees and employers.”
Equally noteworthy: It is one of the first major pieces of business (besides the governor’s budget) getting a legislative hearing this year, and it is happening on April 4. All this despite the recent pay raise that lawmakers voted for committee chairs and vice chairs, doubling their leadership stipends. In fact, the pay hike is the only major legislation passed by the House and Senate since they convened the first week in January.
The legislative roadblock that stalled the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act was used as an example by the Globe of the influence AIM has on Beacon Hill, particularly in the House.
Rick Lord, AIM’s president whose power on Beacon Hill grew out of his position as a senior legislative aide decades ago, made clear this week he felt the delay was necessary to make sure his members were protected.
“It is easy to confuse opposition to a draft of a bill with opposition to the issue itself,’’ he said in a statement. “AIM is always willing to work with those seeking honest and effective compromise. That is exactly what happened with this legislation.”