Mass. Senate outlines their 2016 legislative agenda

The state Senate will return to Beacon Hill on January 21

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Senate members are expected to return to Beacon Hill on January 21. One of the first things on their agenda – cutting down on distracted driving.

Members of the Massachusetts Senate and the media got an idea of what’s to come early next year. The Senate plans to widen the definition of “distracted driving” to include more than just texting behind the wheel for adults. The Senate bill would ban drivers from using a cell phone in the car unless it’s through a hands-free device. The House is working on a similar bill.

“There are so many hands-free devices out there right now. Whether it’s built into your car or whether it’s something you buy after market, there’s really no reason that people should be playing around with their phone when they’re supposed to be concentrating on the road,” said Berkshire County State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru).

Senate lawmakers will also push to close the wage gap for women and people of color (S. 983).

Malden State Representative Steven Ultrino told 22News, “Pay people what they’re worth no matter who they are or what they are, and if they’re qualified to do the job, they should be making the same as anyone else doing the job.”

State law requires that men and women must be paid the same wages for the same type of work. This technical change would specify what makes two jobs similar and allows employees to discuss wages with their bosses without fear of retaliation. In February, the Senate will also focus on making public records more accessible to those who request it.

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