SECTION 1. The General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 are hereby amended by adding, after Chapter 23M, the following new section:
Section 1. (a) There is hereby established an advisory council on paid family and medical leave in this chapter and in chapter one hundred and seventy-five M, called the advisory council, with members to be appointed by the Governor. The voting membership of said council shall be composed of ten members in total with four members representing employers and providers of paid family and medical leave in the commonwealth, at least one of whom shall represent manufacturing classifications, at least one of whom shall represent the retail industry, at least one of whom shall represent contracting classifications, and one of whom shall represent the staffing industry and four members representing employees, at least one of whom shall represent a private sector union, one of whom shall represent a public sector union, one of whom shall represent a community based organization, and one of whom shall have knowledge and experience with the temporary disability insurance system”. At least one employer representative shall be from a list of nominees provided by Associated Industries of Massachusetts. At least one employee representative shall be from a list of nominees provided by Raise Up Massachusetts. The Governor shall also appoint two members representing the public provided the public members have appropriate knowledge and familiarity of paid family and medical leave law and practices in the workplace.
The Governor shall also appoint one member representing the temporary disability insurance industry, 2 attorneys specializing in employment and/or labor law, with one having a practice representing employees and one having a practice representing employers, and one member who is self-employed, none of whom shall be voting members.
The secretary of labor and workforce development and the secretary of housing and economic development shall be ex officio, nonvoting members. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term of his predecessor shall be appointed for the unexpired portion of such term.
(b) In appointing initial members to the Advisory Council, the Governor shall appoint one employer and one employee member for a period of two years, one from each group for a period of three years, one from each group for a period of four years and one for each group for a period of five years. The two public members shall be appointed for a period of three years. After the initial appointment, each appointee shall be eligible to be reappointed for one term of five years. Members shall be eligible for no more than an initial appointment and one reappointment. In appointing council members, the Governor must seek to appoint members reflecting the widest representational diversity possible consistent with the demographics of the commonwealth.
Seven members shall constitute a quorum for purposes of holding a meeting and voting. No formal action or position shall be taken by the council without the affirmative vote of at least seven members. All members of the advisory council shall serve without compensation and at the pleasure of the Governor. The advisory council shall meet no less than quarterly during each calendar year.
Meetings of the advisory council shall be called by the chair or upon written petition by a majority of voting members. Such meetings shall be subject to section 11A1/2 of chapter 30A. The secretary of labor and workforce development or designee, the chair of the commonwealth employment relations board, and the director of the department shall serve as ex-officio non-voting members of the advisory council.
Extraordinary meetings of said advisory council may also be called by the chairman and vice chairman, jointly or upon petition by a majority of voting members. Such meetings shall be subject to the provisions of section 11 1/2 of chapter 30A. Said advisory council shall take no action pursuant to its authority under this chapter or said chapter one hundred and seventy-five unless a quorum of its voting members is present.
Meetings may be held more frequently at the joint request of the chair and vice chair of the council, provided they give all members at least 30 days notice of any extraordinary meeting and its purpose or of their intention to regularly hold meetings more frequently.
(c) The governor shall, from time to time, designate one of the council members as chair of the advisory council. The chair shall serve for no more than 2 years, and the position shall rotate among employee, employer, and public members. No member of the advisory council shall be subject to chapter 31. Such appointees shall not succeed themselves as chairman or vice-chairman.
Members shall receive their traveling and other necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
Section 2. The advisory council shall appoint such personnel as are reasonable and necessary for the proper discharge of its duties, subject to the approval of the secretary of labor and workforce development. The staff of the advisory council shall be funded from administrative cost monies collected for the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund in accordance with the provisions of section 7 of said chapter one hundred and seventy-five M. The advisory council may expend for personnel and office expenses funds appropriated to the department for that purpose.
The director shall provide for the advisory council suitable meeting space and such clerical and other administrative assistance as the director and the council may deem necessary.
Section 3. The advisory council shall monitor, recommend, give testimony, and report on all aspects of the Paid Family and Medical Leave system, except for the adjudication of particular claims or complaints. Its powers include the issuance of reports, recommendations for legislation, policies and programs, the conducting of research, the collecting of data from public and private sources, and powers granted under the provisions of chapter one hundred and seventy-five M to oversee the operation and implementation of the law.
The advisory council shall report at least annually in writing by no later than 90 days following the last day of the fiscal year of the commonwealth to the secretary of labor and workforce development on the state of the Paid Family and Medical Leave system, and shall cause a copy of such report to be filed with the clerks of the house and senate of the general court who shall send copies of such report to the joint committee on commerce and labor and the house and senate committees on ways and means. The report shall include an evaluation of the operations of the department along with recommendations for improving the paid family and medical leave system.
Said advisory council shall also review the annual operating budget of the department, as prepared by the director and as submitted to the secretary of labor and workforce development. Upon the affirmative vote of at least seven voting members, the advisory council may submit its own recommendation for the total operating budget to the secretary of labor and workforce development.
The agency shall cooperate fully with all reasonable written requests for information and documentation from the advisory council requested in pursuit of its established duties.
No later than five years after the establishment of the advisory council, it shall make an investigation and study as to the costs and benefits associated with the regulations implementing the insurance options pursuant to Section 11, to ensure completeness of coverage and competitiveness in pricing.
The advisory council may expend, for the legal, actuarial, research, clerical, and other expenses involved in the completion of such investigations and studies, such sums as may be appropriated therefor subject to the administrative oversight of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Said council shall file the results of its investigations and studies, and its recommendations, if any, together with any drafts of legislation necessary to carry its recommendations into effect with the governor and with the clerks of the house and senate of the general court at the end of each fiscal year.
Section 4. Upon the creation of formal appeal and review process into an appeals board for resolving claims by the Department of Family and Medical Leave, the advisory council shall serve as the nominating panel for the appointment of any members to the appeals board. Before any submission of nominations for appointment or reappointment to the board of review by the Governor, the advisory council shall review applications for such nominations and consider the following factors:
(1) skills in fact-finding;
(2) demonstrated basic understanding of family and medical leave law and/or temporary disability law; and
(3) a bachelor's degree, advanced degree or demonstrated writing ability as evidenced by at least 4 years in positions in which writing skills are a major job responsibility.
Each review of an applicant shall be made based on the application, experience, education and training of the applicant, writing samples, in-person interviews, and any other information the panel may require. When the application is for reappointment, the panel shall review, in addition to any other information, the performance since the candidate's appointment including, but not limited to:
(1) three decisions written and selected by the applicant;
(2) where applicable, the total number of cases decided by the applicant heard by an appellate body, and the number of those cases which were remanded for further proceedings;
(3) any decisions of an appellate body which specifically reference the candidate's demeanor or temperament;
(4) at the discretion of the director, written complaints from organizations that appear before the appeals process, to the director regarding the candidate's demeanor or temperament; and
(5) evidence of any demonstrable bias against particular parties, organizations or attorneys.
The advisory council shall rate the candidate as highly qualified, qualified or unqualified.
If appropriate or requested, any information regarding a candidate compiled by the state advisory council or the director shall be forwarded to the governor prior to the Governor selecting an applicant.
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