Rep. Velis’ weekly update

Hello Westfield! I hope that everybody has been doing well and enjoying the beautiful fall weather we’ve had. This week, as usual, has been crazy, but for the update, I want to focus on a few important bills that we passed this Wednesday.

One of these bills we passed aims to remedy the misuse of handicapped parking placards. These placards are designed to provide closer parking spaces to building entrances for those who have a certified condition. Sadly, studies have shown that there are several ways in which these placards can be misused. The new legislation gives the registrar authority in requesting medical information, requires the applicant to sign under the penalties of perjury, and deters the people from purposely misleading the medical board when applying for a placard. The legislation also increases the penalty for the abuse of a placard. In the study, there were some instances where family members were continuing to use a placard after the handicapped placard holder had passed away, or were using the placard even if the rightful holder was not with them at the time. When unauthorized people use these spaces, it takes away the access for those who have the right to those spaces for certified reasons. I’m glad we were able to take this important measure and keep those spaces available for those who really need them.

Another important bill we were able to pass this week extends federal OSHA protections to municipal employees and quasi-public agencies, an important step in the fight for workplace safety. The bill will bring OSHA protections to 400,000 or more public employees. It is imperative to have these workplaces safe- not only does this provide employees with a peace of mind in regards to safety, but it will help employers as well. There is an anticipated $200 million per year to be saved in sick leave and workers comp because of higher workplace safety standards. OSHA baselines will create a single set of standards for using the best practices. Now, if an accident occurs at a jobsite, OSHA will be able to go in and help to correct the issue. It is important that we have jobs and economic development, but we also need to make sure that these jobs are safe so employees don’t risk injuries at work.

We only have three more anticipated formal sessions before we recess for the holiday season. We will be taking up more important bills dealing with criminal justice reform and several other key issues. As always, I love hearing feedback from my constituents. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, my office can be reached at (413) 572-3920 or [email protected]. Have a great week!

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