February 29, 2016

Posted on February 29, 2016

This report highlights progressive policies that have passed at least one legislative body so far this year.

Civil Rights & Liberties

The Massachusetts Senate passed SB 2107, the New Jersey Senate passed SB 992, and the Washington House passed HB 1646 to help close the pay gap between male and female workers.Also see our model Fair Pay Act and our Equal Pay Remedies and Enforcement Act.

Consumer Protection

The Oregon House passed HB 4143 to increase renter protections and regulate when landlords can raise tenants’ rents. The Oregon House passed HB 4122 to require the labeling of genetically engineered fish. Also see our model Labeling GMO Foods Act. The Washington House passed HB 2545 to allow the Department of Health to restrict the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals in certain types of consumer products.

Environment & Smart Growth

The Maryland Senate passed SB 323 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030. The Massachusetts Senate passed SB 2092 to require the state to develop a climate change mitigation plan and meet long-term carbon emission reduction benchmarks. Also see our model Climate Change Impact Assessment Act. The Oregon House passed HB 4036 to strengthen the state’s renewable energy mandate and require Oregon’s two largest utilities to phase out the use of coal by 2030.

Government Performance

The Massachusetts Senate passed SB 2120 to improve and simplify the process for requesting and obtaining public records. Also see our model Open Data Act.

Public Safety

The New Mexico Senate passed SJR 1 to overhaul the bail system and prevent the state from holding non-dangerous defendants in jail solely because they cannot afford a bail bond. The Oregon House passed HB 4147 to extend the maximum amount of time for the police to conduct a firearm purchase background check from one to ten days. The Kentucky House passed HB 40 to allow people convicted of low-level felonies to have their records expunged

Reproductive Rights

Delaware Governor Markell announced a new program, Contraceptive Access Now (Delaware CAN), to expand access to contraceptives, especially Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives. Also see our model Long-Acting Birth Control Information Act. The Washington Senate passed SB 6149 to require employers to offer reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth-related health conditions. Also see our model Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Voting & Elections

To help ensure that every citizen can vote, the Maryland legislature overrode the Governor’s veto ofSB 340 to allow ex-offenders to vote. Also see our model Restoration of Voting Rights Act. The Washington House passed HB 2682 to automatically register as voters any citizen who applies for a driver’s license, health insurance or social services.

Wages & Benefits

The Oregon legislature passed, and the Governor has promised to sign, SB 1532 to increase minimum raise in tiers across the state; by 2022, the minimum will reach $14.75/hour in Portland, $13.50 around Portland, and $12.50 in more rural areas. The New York Assembly passed AB 3870to provide paid leave, granting workers up to two-thirds of their pay to care for a sick loved one or newborn child for 12 weeks. Vermont enacted HB 187 to mandate that employers provide their employees with at least three days of paid sick leave, increasing to five days in 2019. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issue an executive order directing state agencies to eliminate questions about felony convictions from state job applications, a “ban the box” directive.