The Wonk September 2015
The Wonk - September 11, 2015
Is It Deja Vu with Base Closures?
Hear Directly from Gov. Baker's Point Person on Military Facilities in Mass.
Those who remember the closing of Fort Devens understand what it means when Congress restarts the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC). What will the next round of BRAC mean for the military left at Devens and will other bases face closures?
We are joined at the next Public Policy Committee meeting on Oct. 6 at 8 a.m. by Christopher J. Willenborg, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. Chris will brief us the task force's efforts statewide and at Devens.
RSVP now to be sure you have a seat at the table, and remember this will be the first meeting at the chamber's new Phoenix Park offices.
Thumbs Down on Scheduling Bill
'Worst' Legislation Ever
The Chamber recently took a position against the "scheduling bill" that would mandate strict requirements on scheduling employees. The proposal would mandate posting work schedules weeks in advance and "has been described by many in the employer community as one of the worst pieces of legislation ever written."
Supporters say the bill will help employees unable to rely on timely and consistent scheduling. Perhaps realizing they overreached, supporters have scaled back the legislation.
Instead of applying to all employees, new legislation singles out fast food restaurants and retail stores. It also now requires fast food and retail to post work schedules 14 days in advance, instead of the previous 21 days.
Either way, the Chamber continues to oppose this legislation in any form as it constitutes government micromanagement of businesses through laws and regulation. The entire business community, and not only fast food and retail, should stand up and oppose this legislation.
The scheduling legislation is moving forward on two tracks. First, as legislation on Beacon Hill and second as a proposed ballot question in 2016. If it passes, fast food and retail employers would be required to pay an employee one to four hours of extra pay whenever it changed that employee's work schedule within 14 days of a scheduled work shift.
Already because of new laws passed last year, employers in Massachusetts have been mandated to pay increased hourly minimum wage, which will continue to rise over the next two years, and offer paid sick leave to employees. The Scheduling Bill would be yet another government mandate on employers.
The Chamber will testify against this legislation at the State House on Tuesday, October 13th. We encourage members to join us and will provide further details as the date approaches.
SUMMARY OF BALLOT QUESTION NO. 15-35 This proposed law would require that any fast food restaurant or retail store making any changes, cancellations, additions, or reductions to an employee's schedule within 14 days of a scheduled shift shall pay hourly wages of not less than one hour and not more than four hours in addition to wages earned for hours worked.
Violations of the proposed law would be punishable by civil and criminal penalties. The proposed law could be enforced by the Attorney General and employees could file civil lawsuits to enforce the law.
The proposed law would require the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to issue regulations for scheduling workers in fast food restaurants and retail stores that individually or by way of franchisor or franchisee relationships employ more than 75 people. These regulations would establish a notification table that employers must use to notify employees of changes, cancellations, additions, and reductions in hours or days scheduled and a scale of additional hours to be paid for schedule changes. The regulations would also set reporting requirements for shift schedules.
OTHER 2016 BALLOT QUESTIONS: Most of the proposed 2016 ballot questions, including plans for charter schools, marijuana legalization, and eliminating the sales tax on specially taxed tobacco products, survived Attorney General Maura Healey's eligibility review, but several were not certified and are no longer in play for next year's elections. Healey completed her review of proposed initiative petitions and constitutional amendments, releasing a full list of proposals that were certified and those that were not certified. Petitions that were not certified deal with the proposed legalization of fireworks, an attempt to regulate corporate campaign contributions, the definition of a "public body," and a planned study of radiation health and safety risks. Sponsors of certified petitions face significant signature-gathering requirements in the coming months and petition sponsors have on occasion over the years worked with lawmakers to pass compromise laws that have spurred activists to drop their ballot questions:http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/initiatives-and-other-ballot-questions/current-petitions-filed.html
Two Resources Every Business Owner Needs to Know
Thank you all for attending our monthly Public Policy Committee meeting this month where we had a full house and two great speakers. Both represent state agencies with services vital to businesses.
Larry Andrews, CEO of Mass Growth Capital (www.massgcc.com), a quasi-agency of the Commonwealth, presented opportunities for chamber members seeking financing. MGCC is a high-risk lender, providing loans for working capital to Massachusetts companies. If you have questions about the agency or their programs, we can connect you.
Jon Golnik, Regional Director for the Mass Office of Business Development (www.mass.gov/mobd), discussed economic incentives available to Massachusetts businesses including grants, tax incentives, training programs and other incentives available. Mr. Golnik has requested the Chamber's input on economic development and would welcome your feedback via the attached survey. (SURVEY) If have any questions regarding these programs, contact info is below.
Region Director, Central Massachusetts
Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD)
89 Shrewsbury Street, Suite 300
Worcester, MA 01604
Office: (508) 792-7506 ext. 128 Mobile: (617) 595-6256
Public Policy Calendar
October 6 Public Policy Meeting - 8am, at NEW chamber office, Phoenix Park, Shirley
October 13 Hearing on the Scheduling Bill at the State House - details to follow
November 3 Public Policy Meeting - 8am
December 1 Public Policy Meeting - 8am
Chamber members are welcome to join us at our meetings. Please RSVP to Melissa@nvcoc.com. Monthly meetings are held at the NEW chamber office - 2 Shaker Road, Suite B200, Shirley MA - unless otherwise noted.