On Wednesday, March 25, 2020 the MBLLC petitioned the Governor Baker to request a Major Disaster Declaration for Massachusetts. If approved, independent contractors and the self-employed would become eligible for Unemployment Insurance that they would not have access to otherwise.
The following day, as is detailed here, Gov. Baker announced that had submitted an official request to for the declaration which President Trump later granted on March 27, 2020 as is shown here. We thank the Governor for the request and look forward to continued collaboration in fighting COVID-19.
As Coronavirus/COVID-19 forces everyone around the world to adjust and change the way they work, the MBLLC will serve as a voice for our constituencies to mitigate the impact from this crisis. That will include working with the Department of Corrections (DOC) to ensure the safety of the incarcerated and the DOC staff, while recognizing some changes will be required to ensure that.
Most recently, the DOC announced the suspension of visits as is detailed below. Following that announcement the MBLLC quickly spoke up regarding a now rescinded attached memo which would have placed a moratorium on staff discipline and suspensions. We thank DOC Commissioner Carol Mici for addressing this promptly and we look forward to continuing to work with the DOC during these trying times.
Additional information from the DOC can be found in the Q&A document linked here.
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020 the MBLLC met with the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition (MAWOCC) via conference call to discuss their efforts. Focused on empowering women of color throughout the Commonwealth, the organization is 400+ strong as they fight for important matters such as racial and gender parity on public boards and commissions. They are seeking to implement this through H4153 and requested the MBLLC's support to make it a reality.
The MBLLC looks forward to working together with the MAWOCC and welcome's you to explore their work through their website here. You can also learn more about H4153 here and we urge you to share your support of the bill with your State Legislators.
On Wednesday, March 4, 2020 the MBLLC and Governor Baker met for the first of their 2020 quarterly meetings. The administration spoke with the Caucus addressing specific concerns raised previously including State Police diversity, MBE contracting opportunities, home ownership, and micro business supports.
These meetings have led to numerous successes, including the most recent announcement of the Governor introducing $15m in his recently filed Economic Development bill. The $15m will go towards supporting micro businesses building on Chairman Gonzalez' steadfast advocacy to aid in the creation of 1,000 Black and Latino micro businesses in the Commonwealth.
Meeting attendees also discussed efforts to create a State Police Cadet program providing an additional avenue for minority applicants, specific State projects with language that will increase minority participation in the ownership and construction of said projects, and a new diversity transparency tool set to be released in the coming months.
On Thursday, February 27, 2020 Rep. Russell Holmes represented the MBLLC to speak on changes that will facilitate greater participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in public design and construction contracts. The changes, proposed by the Baker-Polito Administration, are the fruits of the MBLLC's quarterly meetings with the Governor where members have emphasized the need to provide our constituencies with greater access to these spaces. We look forward to working with Gov. Baker in putting forth additional proposals focused on closing the wealth gap in the Commonwealth.
You can learn more about the changes here.
On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 the MBLLC met with Commissioner Carol Mici of the Department of Corrections to discuss a range of issues including:
Agreeing to meet at least twice a year, the two groups met to kick off the first of their 2020 meetings. These reoccurring meetings serve as an important opportunity to discuss a range of matters related to the Department of Corrections and the MBLLC constituencies housed at their facilities.
The meetings have proven to be fruitful leading to policy changes and serving as an opportunity for both organizations to help each other. The Caucus looks forward to continuing to build on this relationship and advocating for men and women behind the walls.
On February 18, 2020 MBLLC members visited the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center acting on requests from families and the men incarcerated at the facility. Following an assault on Correctional Officers on 1.10.2020, the Legislator visited the Correctional Center to ensure the safety of both the inmates and Correction Officers. The open dialogue served as an important opportunity for Legislators to express concerns raised by community members regarding alleged unsafe conditions and retaliation.
MBLLC members present for the meeting included Chairman Carlos González, Rep. Russell Holmes, and Rep. Liz Miranda. The Caucus was also joined by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, and House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Claire Cronin. The Legislators met with Department of Corrections Commissioner Carol Mici, Souza Barownoski Superintendent Stephen Kenneway, Correctional Officers, health staff, and others.
The MBLLC will continue to serve as a vehicle for the community to address concerns such as these and looks forward to working with the Department of Corrections to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
On Wednesday, February 12, 2020 the MBLLC met with Senate President Karen Spilka to discuss strategy for the coming months. With the Joint Rule 10 deadline behind them, the MBLLC discussed intentions and reevaluations regarding efforts for the remainder of the session.
The Senate President and MBLLC discussed important matters such as transportation, the Safe Communities Act, the Driver's License bill, and much more. The meeting was the second as of late between the two offices as both agreed to meet on a quarterly basis moving forward.
On Tuesday, February 11, 2020 the MBLLC welcomed 250+ guests to celebrate Black History Month and the Black leaders who make our communities thrive. The celebration was the second of its kind building on past successes of the Caucuses "Excellence" events.
The event featured a speaking program with Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, and MBLLC members. The celebration also serves as an opportunity to recognize Black Excelence 2020 Honorees who were nominated by their respective Legislators.
A full list of the honorees and their biographies can be found below.
On Wednesday, February 5, 2020 UMass Boston’s Gastón Institute and the MBLLC welcomes guests to the State House for an important discussion about Latinos in the labor force.
Latinos composed 12% of Massachusetts' labor force in 2017, and that is expected to grow to over 18% by 2035. Meanwhile, their median wage income was $29,324 compared to $47,526 for non-Latinos. We know this thanks to the report which the Gastón Institute released during the event.
The Institute's work on issues such as this are critically important as they provide us with the data to support the policy initiatives we advocate for. The MBLLC is determined to address these issues and close the wealth gap in the Commonwealth. Thank you to everyone who participated in this important discussion yesterday.
The full report can be viewed here.
MBLLC log posts are curated by the Caucus Executive Director.