State & Region Briefs

Published: 6/22/2017 9:24:21 PM
Baker not happy with Senate health bill

Gov. Charlie Baker, much like he did when the U.S. House rolled out the American Health Care Act, warned Thursday that the Senate’s draft repeal of Obamacare would result “significant funding losses” for Massachusetts through billions of cuts to the federal Medicaid program.

Baker, a Republican, has been insistent during the debate in Washington that any changes to the Affordable Care Act not shift the more of the financial obligation of providing health coverage to the low-income and disabled onto states. The Baker administration said it continues to review the legislation, and noted that the Congressional Budget Office is expected to score the bill early next week before a possible vote.

Pregnant workers bill on move in Senate

A little more than a month after the House unanimously passed it, the Senate plans to take up a bill next week mandating protections for pregnant workers.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires businesses to offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, such as longer breaks, seating and lighter duty.

With the support of Gov. Charlie Baker and at least a majority of the Senate, there is relatively little standing in the way of the bill becoming law.

Syncing of pot, tobacco and alcohol ages on hold

The Senate’s main proponent of raising the state’s minimum tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21 took a moment to make his case during Thursday’s marijuana debate, arguing it would make sense to have the same age threshold for marijuana, alcohol and tobacco.

Sen. Jason Lewis, the Senate chair of the Public Health Committee, offered the language of his tobacco age legislation as an amendment to the bill modifying the state’s marijuana legalization law. “I do think there is a strong nexus between that legislation and what we are debating today, specifically having a consistent legal minimum age of 21 for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana will make our messaging to young people that much simpler,” the Winchester Democrat told his colleagues.

Eight lawmakers join those in other states to support Paris accord

Massachusetts lawmakers have joined more than 550 legislators from 44 states in formally declaring their commitment to fight climate change and adhere to The Paris Agreement.

Sen. Michael Barrett, who is among the eight Massachusetts lawmakers to sign on to a National Caucus of Environmental Legislators document, said he sees The Paris Agreement guidelines as a starting point for combating climate change.

From State House News Service


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