Three years after Democratic lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a bill to punish employers who fail to pay their workers on time – even if the violation is an accident – House leaders are asking members to reverse themselves and embrace a long-held Republican proposal that would punish employers only for intentional wage delays.
The about-face was included as part of the House Ways and Means Committee’s annual spending plan, unveiled Wednesday. Rep. Martha Walz (D-Boston), a labor attorney and assistant vice chair of the committee, described the proposal as an important signal to the business community to ensure “you’re not penalized for making innocent mistakes.”
“While that may not seem, in a large $30 billion budget, to be a significant issue, it sends a very strong message to the business community here,” Walz said.
Yes, indeed it does. And it is great to see Rep. Walz and her colleagues recognizing that message, albeit three years after they resoundingly rejected exactly that argument – set forth by their Republican colleagues – when they enacted the ridiculously punitive treble damages provision in the first place.
What is going on here? Did House Ds decide to extend April Fools Day to the whole month? Did Speaker DeLeo lose some kind of huge bet to Minority Leader Jones? Did the whole House Democratic caucus catch a re-run of the “Opposite Day” episode of Seinfeld and decide to give it a try?
Whatever it is, let’s hope it is contagious. And that the afflicted Representatives start spending a lot of time in close quarters with their Senate colleagues.