State Legislature Passes Compromise Laws Regarding Pregnant Workers, Marijuana

BOSTON – Representative Steve Ultrino (D – Malden) joined his legislative colleagues to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as well as a bill that implements consumer access to adult-use marijuana while protecting public health and safety.

After months of negotiations between industry representatives and pregnant advocates, both chambers of the State House reached compromise on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) this past week.

Representative Steve Ultrino is a member of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workface Development which favorably reported on the bill in May. He is also a co-sponsor and longtime advocate of the PWFA.

“This legislation is a major step forward for women’s rights, pay equity, public health, and the economy of the Commonwealth,” said Representative Steve Ultrino. “This is one of the first bills I co-sponsored as a representative and I look forward to its passage.”

The PWFA, which has an effective date of April 1, 2018, will enhance protections for pregnant women in the workplace, by including measures that guarantee their physical safety and freedom from workplace discrimination. This bill prevents hiring discrimination for pregnant women and guarantees access to bathroom breaks, relief from living heavy objects, the right to a chair or seat when working, and other accommodations. It is a measure that will further the cause of equal opportunity across the Commonwealth. Many workers and employees alike have supported the passage of the bill.

The adult-use marijuana bill allows adults 21 years of age or older to home grow, buy, transport, possess, and use limited amounts of marijuana. It maintains the personal use provisions that were described in the 2016 marijuana ballot question, and invests money in addiction treatment.

Outreach initiatives described in the bill will provide equal opportunity in this new industry for communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. Greater equity will be achieved by not excluding those with a previous arrest, conviction, or infraction related to marijuana, unless that involved selling cannabis to a minor.

Both bills have been sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.