March 17, 2016

Posted on March 17, 2016

** Indicates new legislation since our last report

Civil Rights & Liberties

The Massachusetts Senate passed SB 2107 and the New Jersey Senate passed SB 992 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. **The Iowa Senate passed SF 2284 to add certain crimes against transgender people to the list of hate crimes, and the Colorado House approved HB 1185 to allow transgender individuals to change the gender listed on their birth certificates without having surgery or seeking a court order. **The Florida Senate approved SB 1044 to reform civil forfeiture and reduce wrongful seizures of personal property.

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 Governor signed SB 1547 to strengthen the state’s renewable energy mandate and require Oregon’s two largest utilities to phase out the use of coal by 2030. **The Maryland Senate passed SB 198 to limit the use of certain pesticides in order to protect declining bee populations.

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.


**The Massachusetts governor signed HB 4056 to implement a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions, and the Washington Senate passed HB 2730 to expand access to a prescription monitoring program in order to combat a growing epidemic of opioid addiction. **California’s Senate passed SB 7 to raise to 21 the age for purchasing and consuming tobacco products, and SB 5 to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes.  Also see our model E-cigarette Smoke-Free 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 Idaho Senate passed HB 528 to test and track all sexual assault evidence kits within a reasonable timeline.

Reproductive Rights

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. **The Tennessee Senate approved SB 1677 to allow women 18 years or older to obtain contraceptives directly from pharmacists.


**The California Senate passed SB 2 to create a health plan tax package that will commit a few hundred million dollars to services for the developmentally disabled. **The Louisiana House of Representatives approved HB 27 to raise taxes on beer, wine, malt beverages and liquor.

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. **The Governor of Pennsylvania signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage by nearly $3 an hour, to $10.15, for state government employees and state contractors. **The Tennessee Senate passed SB 2440 to “ban the box” and prohibit employers from including a question about felony convictions on job applications. See also NELP’s “Ban the Box” model.