State Capitol Briefs — Thursday, May 8, 2014


Housekeepers, nannies, caretakers, cooks and other domestic workers will be guaranteed meal breaks, days off and maternity leave under legislation passed unanimously by the Senate Thursday. The legislation (S 2131) establishes a domestic workers’ bill of rights. Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham) said household workers are often an unseen and isolated group of workers that lack protections afforded to other workers. “These folks are simply not protected,” Candaras said before the Senate passed the bill 39 to 0. The House included similar provisions in a bill that passed that branch addressing the minimum wage and unemployment insurance reforms, but Senate President Therese Murray said advocates preferred that the issues be separated. Domestic workers say they are looking for dignity and respect in the workplace. A group of people watching the debate from the Senate gallery broke into cheers when it passed. Babysitters and personal care attendants are not captured under the legislation. The bill establishes clear rules for sleeping, meal and rest periods, including a requirement for a 24-hour rest period each week and a 48-hour rest period each month for domestic workers who work 40 hours a week or more. “We are thrilled that our bill has moved one step closer to becoming law. Domestic workers can now come out of the shadows and create a more safe and secure workforce,” Lydia Edwards, from the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, said in a statement. Privacy protections for domestic workers were also included in the bill in an attempt to prevent employers from interfering with a worker’s personal communication and property. It also includes housing protections in the event a worker is terminated without cause. Similar laws have passed in California, Hawaii, and New York. – C. Quinn/SHNS

Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, the governor’s hand-picked head of the board charging with licensing casinos in Massachusetts, recused himself on Thursday from any further involvement in the licensing of a resort-casino in greater Boston. “Over the past several months, my behavior and judgment concerning the parties to the Region A decision has been questioned, sometimes in good faith, sometimes in bad faith,” Crosby said in a statement posted to the commission’s website. Crosby said neither he nor any of the other four commissioners doubt his ability to be impartial. “But the compounding of these issues has now gotten to the point where my participation in the decision making process has become a distraction and a potential threat to our critical appearance of total impartiality,” he said. Crosby most recently faced heat over his decision to attend a party at Suffolk Downs last weekend celebrating the Kentucky Derby and the opening of the horse racing season. Gov. Deval Patrick said Crosby likely did not violate any rules because he paid for his and his family’s tickets, but called it “not a wise decision.” Crosby has also repeatedly declined up until now to recuse himself from the licensing process because of a prior business relationship with Paul Lohnes, one of the owners of the site in Everett where Steve Wynn is bidding to build a casino. Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun are competing against Wynn for the license. Commissioner Jim McHugh will act as chair of the commission for all issues related to the eastern Massachusetts license. Crosby has also butted heads with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh over the city’s request to be considered a host community. – M. Murphy/SHNS

Amy Nechtem, a juvenile court judge since 2001, will succeed Michael Edgerton as chief justice of the court. Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey on Thursday appointed Nechtem, who in 2012 was selected as president of the 1,200-member National Association of Women Judges. Edgerton’s term ends June 30. Nechtem serves in Essex County Juvenile Court. The juvenile court has 11 divisions with 41 authorized judicial positions. – M. Norton/SHNS

Copyright 2014 State House News Service

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