Rogers, Legislature Pass Landmark Bill to Dismantle the Gender Wage Gap

Legislation will be the strongest pay equity statute in the nation
(BOSTON) – Representative John H. Rogers (D-Norwood/Walpole) and his colleagues in the legislature passed legislation to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work today. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority (provided that paternal, family, and medical leave don’t reduce seniority); a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.

Notably, the bill would prevents employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.

“As a father of three daughters, the idea that they could one day get paid significantly less than their male counterparts for doing the same work is baffling to me” said Rogers. This legislation takes important steps toward leveling the playing field and ensuring that no woman may be discriminated against on the basis of her gender. This bill does not only affect women, but also families across the Commonwealth. With this vote, my hope is that we can continue to take steps forward toward true equality.”

In drafting this bill, the House of Representatives focused on building consensus to ensure that the legislation would be workable, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining “comparable work” and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.

It also:

• Prohibits employers from reducing salaries in order to comply with law.
• Prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries.

The legislation will take effect of July 1, 2018.


Rogers Overrides Gov’s Veto, Secures More Money for Norwood Schools

Boston: Representative John H. Rogers (D-Norwood/Walpole) voted in a rare Saturday session of the legislature to override the veto of Governor Charlie Baker (R-Swampscott) and reinstate vital funding for students with special needs.

The Circuit Breaker line item, which was invented by Rogers in 2004 when he was serving as the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means, reimburses local school districts for a portion of their costs to educate special education students with severe needs. Those costs often run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“Twelve years ago I identified the challenge of exploding cost of educational services to our most needy and vulnerable populations” said Rogers, now the Ranking Member of the Committee on Education “and we created the Circuit Breaker to validate that obligation and elevate the financial burden to communities like Norwood. Every year is a fight for funding, but it is a fight I am willing to wage on behalf of the schoolchildren, parents and taxpayers of Norwood’s Public Schools. ”

The veto override reinstated $3,723,180 into the State Budget raising the available amount of funds for Circuit Breaker reimbursement to $277,281,180. This year Norwood/Walpole will receive X, which is an increase of Y dollars over FY16.

Rogers is the author of a number of bills before the House of Representatives which deal with education finance. His bill H. 427 An Act Expanding the Special Education Reimbursement Program would allow special education transportation costs to be included in the Circuit Breaker calculation. Also his Act Strengthening Public Education in the Commonwealth, would reform and expand the way Chapter 70 aid to schools is distributed, raising Norwood’s Foundation budget by nearly $3 Million.

Rogers, Legislature Pass Balanced FY17 Budget

Focuses on protecting the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens

BOSTON –Representative John Rogers joined his colleagues in the Legislature to pass a $39.145 billion budget that prioritizes the needs of municipalities and protects funding that supports those most in need, especially individuals grappling with addiction, homelessness and the Commonwealth’s children.

The spending bill reflects an active response to an unpredictable revenue shortfall through responsible and forward-looking solutions.

“The conference report on the fiscal year 2017 budget represents a fiscally responsible solution to the challenges of our uncertain fiscal climate,” said Rogers, a former Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. “I am happy to have secured $5,941,876 in Chapter 70 Aid to Norwood Public Schools and $4,472, 340 in Unrestricted General Government Aid, along with dredging money for Ellis Pond.

“The final Fiscal Year 2017 budget represents a truly collaborative effort between the Baker-Polito Administration, the House and the Senate to address the unanticipated shortfall in state revenues,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “The conference committee members responded to this challenge by producing a balanced budget that not only contains significant increases in local aid for our cities and towns, but also reflects many of the priorities of the members, without imposing new taxes or fees. Moving forward, it is important that we continue to closely monitor revenues and focus on making sure they are being spent effectively and efficiently on behalf of the state’s taxpayers.”

Although the Commonwealth was faced with an unforeseeable decrease in tax revenue, the Legislature was able to maintain its record-high investments in local aid. The final budget increases both local education funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), boosting UGGA by 4.3 percent. It provides $55 in per-pupil-aid, more than doubling last year’s expenditure, and fully funds Special Education Circuit Breaker.

In addition to local education funding, the Legislature continues to emphasize to the impact that high-quality Early Education and Care (EEC) has on the lives of our residents – both children and adults – by making targeted investments to support the EEC workforce while expanding access to high-quality programming. EEC investments include a $12.5 million rate reserve, $4M to ensure access to quality EEC programming, including continued support for pre-kindergarten expansion opportunities.

Recognizing that education and economic development are intrinsically paired, the budget enhances the Legislature’s focus on bolstering job opportunities for residents of all skillsets in diverse regions of the Commonwealth through programs including:

Invests $2 million in the Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund, to promote the big data and analytics industries, provide tools for related career development and explore how analytics can help address problems of public concern;

MassCAN: $1.7 million to establish and enhance widespread, progressive computer science curriculum in public school through a public-private matching program;

Provides $1 million for technical grants for small business;

Talent Pipeline: $1.5 million to encourage young innovators to get a head start on their futures by matching stipends for interns at innovation start-ups, and to provide mentoring opportunities for new entrepreneurs;

Provides $1 million for the John Adams Innovation Institute;

Continues to fund the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, a program that continues to show results in closing the skills gap.

Since FY12, the Legislature has increased funding for substance addiction services by more than 65 percent and passed two landmark bills to help address this public health epidemic. This year’s budget makes notable investments for behavioral health, including new funding of more than $27 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services which will open an estimated 125 residential treatment beds and:

$3.1 million for Recovery High Schools;

$1 million for the Substance Abuse Trust Fund;

$1 million for the Attorney General to fund programs designed to combat opioid addiction;

$3 million for Medication Assisted Therapy in emergency rooms.

In additional to behavioral health and substance addiction initiatives, the FY17 budget features numerous provisions to support Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens including:

Increases the Department of Children & Families’ budget by more than $33.1 million to support more than 600 recent hires, including 281 new hires for FY17.

Increases the Department of Developmental Services’ budget by almost $44 million;

Boosts funding for Family Respite Services to assist an addition 3,000 families;

Provides more than $30 million for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and treatment programs;

Increases the Councils on Aging formula grant to $10 per individual, per year.

The budget now goes to the Governor.


Rogers Secures Funding for Ellis Pond in Final Budget

BOSTON – Rep. John H. Rogers (D-Norwood) is proud to announce that he has secured funding in the finalized State Budget for the Town of Norwood to conduct a core sample study of Ellis Pond’s sediment. The core sampling is the first step in a wider project of dredging the pond. Last week, the House and Senate voted to pass the finalized State Budget which contained Representative Rogers’ amendment securing $40,000 for the purposes of core testing for contamination in the pond.

The core samples are crucial because if contamination is found once a dredging project is begun, the town would be responsible for the cleanup of any contaminants.

Rep. Rogers said, “I am happy to help protect and preserve this valuable natural resource of Norwood. This is an important first step in rehabilitating the natural beauty of Ellis Pond. I am happy to have been able to work with Peter Bamber of the Norwood Conservation Commission in drafting this budget amendment. He and the other members of the Conservation Commission are wonderful municipal partners to work with on behalf of our community.”

The budget will now be laid before the Governor for signature. The Ellis Pond has seen sediment and invasive species of plant life deplete the pond for many years. This $40,000 in state funding will be crucial in beginning the process of rehabilitating the pond.


$750,000 for Prison Mitigation in Final FY2017 State Budget

Boston – Representative John H. Rogers (D- Norwood), Senator James E. Timilty (D-Walpole), Representatives Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton), Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham), and Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) are pleased to announce that the Massachusetts House and Senate have passed the final FY2017 State Budget, which includes $750,000 for the Town of Walpole as host of MCI Cedar Junction. Walpole’s Legislative delegation was able to maintain this vital funding despite a revenue shortfall in this year’s budget.

Walpole is the only town to receive a specified amount in the budget to help cover the costs of hosting a prison facility. This funding which recognizes the burden that hosting Cedar Junction places on the Town of Walpole was initiated by Rep. Rogers in FY04.

In recent years mitigation money has been utilized to offset the cost of municipal buildings in town. $1.6 Million has been allocated for the new Walpole Police Station; and $800,000 from FY16 Prison Mitigation will be allocated toward the new Fire Station, once it is transferred from free cash at the next Fall Town Meeting. This current allocation of funds from the House, if passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, will be available next year to defer from the cost of additional projects in the Facilities Construction Account.

Representative Rogers observed “Once again, the taxpayers of Walpole will receive exclusive budgetary treatment because of the total team effort from our state delegation. This vital funding will go a long way in offsetting costs of municipal needs that otherwise would go unfunded due to the burdens of Cedar Junction. I am especially proud that Walpole’s team delivered this year, in the face of a significant budget shortfall.”

Senator Timilty remarked, “The Walpole Delegation prioritized this funding in the Commonwealth’s FY17 operating budget. I am proud the bipartisan co-operation with my colleagues in the House resulted in monies allocated in the coming fiscal year to help the Town of Walpole meet critical public safety and infrastructure needs.”

“Having these mitigation funds assist in offsetting the costs of the new public safety buildings is entirely fitting, based on the services they’ve provided to the Commonwealth and the Department of Corrections,” said Representative Kafka. “I’m pleased that we were again able to work well as a delegation to preserve this program for another fiscal year.”

Rep. McMurtry said, “I am pleased to, once again, team with my colleagues in our effort to deliver critical funding as a deserving gesture of compensation to the citizens of Walpole as host community to the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system”

Rep. Dooley remarked that he was “so pleased that we were able to get these monies for the people of Norfolk and Walpole. Our communities give so much in support of the Commonwealth and it is great that the legislature voted unanimously to show their appreciation for our hosting these facilities.”

In addition to the $750,000 specifically for the Town of Walpole, there is also an additional amount that will be made available to all towns that host prison facilities. Walpole will receive its proportional share of this money as well.


Rogers Draws Attention to Drug Court.

(Quincy) – Representative John H. Rogers attended the 14th Annual Graduation Ceremonies of the Quincy Drug Court this week, where 11 individuals recovering from drug addiction where recognized for their completion of an 18 month rehabilitation and therapy program

“Almost 20 years ago, Congressman Keating and I filed legislation to create a separate branch of our judicial system to service those in recovery” said Rogers, a longtime supporter of recovery programs. “I am proud that the first such court was here serving the people of Norfolk County, and that this year drug courts service areas now encompass our entire commonwealth. It is important to be here every year, supporting those who are on the long hard journey to rebuild their lives from the ravages of drug addiction.”

Recovering addicts address their dependence with stays at halfway houses, weekly group meetings and therapy sessions instead of facing jail sentences for crimes related to their addiction. The Drug Court’s goal is to rehabilitate people so they can find jobs, housing and abide by the law rather than allowing their addiction to control their lives.

Also present at the Graduation where District Attorney Michel Morrissey, Stephen Tolman President of the AFL CIO, and Representative Tackey Chan
Photo Caption: Representatives John H. Rogers and Tackey Chan with Justice Mary Beth Heffernan of Quincy District Court.

Rogers Hosts Morrill Library Staff at State House

Boston- Representative John H. Rogers (D-Norwood) hosted the staff of the Morrill Memorial Library at the State House recently during their professional development day. The group received tours of the State House and the Boston Athenaum one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States. During lunch in the State House of Representatives members lounge, Representative Rogers spoke with them about two important budget items which would benefit Norwood’s Library; State Aid to Public Libraries, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book.