Policy Watch: Meagan Matters Update/Marijuana Legalization/ Tenants’ Rights/Workplace Bullying

This column appears in the February 25 – March 3 edition of the Hartford News…
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First and third Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! Replays the following Wednesday, same time. Next show: March 1.  http://sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Meagan Hockaday Act
Meagan Hockaday was murdered by Oxnard, California police officer Roger Garcia in front of her children on March 28, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/meaganmatters/timeline Garcia has not been charged. Coming in 2016: The Community Party’s Meagan Hockaday Act will include enhanced criminal penalties for excessive use of force by the police against mentally ill people and individuals in crisis, in addition to whenever children are present. Our legislation will implement a new international approach to policing, based on a successful model in the United Kingdom and Canada that emphasizes de-escalation and treatment. Public Health Committee co-chair Rep. Matt Ritter is collaborating with us on this bill. Stay tuned for updates and action alerts. Meagan Matters! https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/meagan-matters-police-murder-of-black-women-ignored-by-corporate-media-activists/ The official bill has been drafted: you can view it here. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/meagan-hockaday-act-bill-language/  We’ll post action alerts on my Facebook page and the CP Twitter page. Details at the end of the column.  Check out CP’s 2016 legislative package at our No Sellout blog. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/community-party-2016-legislative-package/
Drug Policy Reform/Housing Issues 
Mary Sanders provided a report on two important bills, H.B 5209 AN ACT CONCERNING REGULATION AND TAXATION OF THE PRODUCTION, SALE AND USE OF MARIJUANA https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2016&bill_num=5209  and H.B. 5236
AN ACT CONCERNING THE LEGALIZATION, TAXATION AND REGULATION OF THE RETAIL SALE AND USE OF MARIJUANA https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2016&bill_num=5236
It’s been reported that the proposed bills numbered 5209 and 5236 are in JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

Joint Committee on Judiciary
Legislative Office Building, Room 2500
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 240‑0530

WITHOUT the bill leaving committee, there will not be a public hearing so keep calling your personal legislators AS WELL as the committee (phone number above)

It would also be wise to contact the following:
Sen Coleman (Chair) – DEM Leg Aide Jemar Smith 860-240-0528
Sen Doyle (Vice) – DEM Leg Aide David Seifel 860-240-0475
Sen Kissel (Ranking Member) Leg Aide Kate McAvoy (800) 842-1421
REP Tong (Chair) 860) 240-8585 (Ask for direct transfer to leg. aide)
REP Fox (Vice Chair) (860) 240-8585 (ask for direct transfer to leg. aide)
REP Rebimbas (Ranking member) 800-842-1423
Mary is spearheading the grassroots effort to pass CP’s two proposed city ordinances. One would require that all apartment buildings in Hartford be equipped with security bars with a quick release device, so residents can escape a fire. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/the-bedford-street-fire-tragedy-an-interview-with-hfd-captain-james-mcloughlin/ The other is based on a Manchester snow removal ordinance, which would allow residents to call the city if landlords are delinquent in their snow removal duties. The city would remove the snow and charge the landlord.  https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/innovative-manchester-snow-removal-ordinance/
We contacted Rep. Ritter about a tenants’ rights issue in Rocky Hill. NBC Connecticut reported that Century Hills Apartments residents spent the entire Presidents’ Day weekend without heat, when temperatures were in the single digits. Rep. Ritter requested that the Connecticut General Assembly’s housing committee raise a bill that would amend the current state law, which gives landlords 2 business days to restore essential services, to 48 hours. The bill was raised last week so if it passes, landlords will be subject to legal action if they drag their feet when tenants lose heat on a weekend or holiday, which was the case here. Stay tuned for updates on these important housing issues.
Peter Tercyak Protecting Workplace Bullies
Labor and Public Employees Committee chair Rep. Peter Tercyak is the common denominator in years of failure of workplace bullying legislation to gain any traction at the State Capitol. Last year during a meeting to discuss workplace bullying at Connecticut Valley Hospital, Tercyak revealed to CVH employee John Hollis and I that he was in a relationship with Pat Rehmer, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioner at the time (they are now married). This egregious conflict of interest has been underscored by Tercyak’s refusal to have a subsequent meeting with us during the 2015 legislative session to discuss CP’s Safe Work Environment Act, removing all of the enforcement language from our bill before passing it out of committee (the bill was placed on the Senate calendar but wasn’t called for a vote), and his failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request made by John and I back in December for email exchanges between Tercyak and Rehmer, during her tenure as DMHAS commissioner. Tuesday we were finally told that we would receive the emails, after informing Tercyak that we intended to publicly complain about him blowing off our request. Another FOI request revealed that DMHAS and the Department of Administrative Services are working together to kill workers’ rights legislation. Retired DMHAS Legislative Program Manager Doreen DelBianco and DAS official Terrence Tulloch-Reid bragged in a 2012 email exchange about killing a workplace violence prevention bill, despite the history of the 1998 Connecticut Lottery shooting. Employee Matthew Beck fatally shot 4 managers before he committed suicide. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/big-bad-das-killing-those-labor-bills/   A source at the Capitol told us that DAS killed the Safe Work Environment Act last year. We will file an FOI request with DAS.
California Workplace Bullying Law
This week we’ll share a report on California’s workplace bullying law, which went into effect last year, courtesy of  The Law Offices of Kelsuk, Silverstein & Jacob. http://www.californialaborlawattorney.com/  The Safe Work Environment Act is a part of our legislative package.
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What are the New Workplace Bullying Laws?

Los Angeles Employment Lawyers Explain Hostile Work Environments

Starting January 1, 2015, a new anti-workplace bullying law will take effect in California. Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2053 on September 9, 2014, which passed in the state senate by a vote of 25-8 in August of this year.
Workplace bullying can cause a range of harmful effects, such as stress, low productivity, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, digestive problems and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stephen Cruz, a staff worker at the University of California, San Diego, is a one example of a victim of workplace bullying. His new boss was prone to yelling at workers, scolding them and sending angry emails, all of which can be considered abusive behavior. He is hopeful that the new law may allow him to continue at his job without fear.

What Should I know about the Anti-Bully Law?

The new law will have three major points of consideration for both employers and employees starting in 2015:
  • Employers who have 50 or more employees are required to take anti-workplace bullying lessons every two years, along with the sexual harassment training that is conducted every two years for supervisors. Those presenting the lessons must have knowledge and expertise on the subject. Neither the amount of time for the lesson nor the contents used for the lesson are mentioned in the bill.
  • The bill describes abusive conduct as repetitive verbal abuse; derogatory, threatening or insulting language; physically threatening behavior; subjecting a worker to humiliation or sabotaging a worker’s work performance. Bullying must be repetitive and not an isolated incident to count as bullying under the new law.
  • The bill does not make workplace bullying illegal. It is only illegal if the bullying is based on some form of discrimination, such as race, gender or sexual orientation. The difficulty in making it illegal is that there is a large gray area between being abusive and being a demanding supervisor.
While this bill does not legally prevent bullying, it does help build awareness for workplace bullying behavior. The hope is that the required training will have an impact on bosses prone to abusive behavior. Additionally, the bill could influence employers to modify employee handbooks or manuals to include bullying as a workplace violation in company policies.
While bullying alone may not be enough to file a lawsuit, an attorney can find out if you are employed in a hostile work environment and advise on the best way to put a stop to it. Speak to a Los Angeles employment attorney to find out if your employer is breaking the law, and what you can do about it. The Law Firm of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob offers free consultations.
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Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948   Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first and third Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com  
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