Senate rejects proposals to aid restaurants

Massachusetts

In this May 19, 2020, photo, Kyle Froelich, right, hands a customer a carryout six-pack of beer at Good Time Charley’s in Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan restaurants and bars could sell cocktails and liquor for pickup or delivery and would see a temporary cut in state liquor prices under fast-tracked legislation that supporters hope will help the industry survive the coronavirus pandemic. The state already lets bars and restaurants sell unopened beer and wine to go. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

BOSTON (SHNS) – In a series of voice votes, the Senate on Tuesday shot down budget amendments that would extend pandemic-era takeout cocktail authorization and caps on the fees that delivery apps charge restaurants, along with other measures involving pay for legislative staffers.

All those amendments were sponsored by Sen. Diana DiZoglio, who also filed a successful amendment calling for the Group Insurance Commission to study impacts of the waiting period for new state employees signing up for health insurance. DiZoglio, a Methuen Democrat, spoke in favor of each of her amendments, and no other senators spoke either in support or opposition before the votes.

On Monday, the group Beacon B.L.O.C., a coalition of Black State House staffers and allies, released a poll of more than 210 legislative staffers, finding that half of respondents said they could support themselves and dependents on a State House salary and just over 10 percent said they felt fairly paid for the amount of work they undertake. Through a trio of rejected amendments, DiZoglio sought to set the salary floor for full-time, entry-level legislative employees at $55,000, grant staffers an “equity adjustment” of a “lump sum additional compensation equaling six percent” of what they’ve earned since March 13, 2020 to account for remote work expenses, and to tie House and Senate staff salary increases to increases in the state’s median income.

Legislative leaders said Monday that staffers in both branches received 6 percent cost-of-living adjustments in their paychecks this month, plus a one-time $500 stipend to defray costs of working from home. On the floor, DiZoglio said those measures weren’t enough, pointing to survey responses tallying staffers’ expenses. “The Legislature has priced diversity and equity out of the building,” she said.

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