August 16, 2012 Liz Borkowski, MPH 0Comment

We’ve written recently about two bills that had been passed by US and Massachusetts legislatures  but not yet signed, so I wanted to close the loop and report that both are now law.

On August 6, President Obama signed into law the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012,” which, among other things, provides that the Department of Veterans Affairs will give hospital care and medical services to veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, from 1957 to 1987, and have developed conditions associated with TCE, PCE, benzene, and other chemicals.

“Sadly, this act alone will not bring back those we’ve lost, including Janey Ensminger, but it will honor their memory by making a real difference for those who are still suffering,” President Obama said at the bill’s signing. At his side were Mike Partain, who was born at Camp Lejeune and later developed male breast cancer, and Jerry Ensminger, whose daughter Janey was conceived and born at Camp Lejeune and died of leukemia at age nine. Both have been tireless advocates for the rights of Camp Lejeune victims, and you can see more about their work at the website The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten.

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick signed the Temporary Workers Right to Know Act on August 6; it will take effect on January 31, 2013. The bill will end some of the most egregious practices by the state’s temporary employment agencies. It will regulate the fees that staffing agencies can charge temporary workers and require them to provide employees with written job orders that include information about the agency and worksite employer, job requirements (including any special clothing, tools, and trainings necessary), and details about payment of wages.

“With the Governor’s signature, this law will bring essential sunlight to the shadows where these abuses have taken place, and help ensure fairness for workers and employers who follow the state’s labor laws,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of MassCOSH and coordinator of the REAL (Reform Employment Agency Law) Coalition, whose advocacy efforts were key in the bill’s passage.

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