Friday, December 1, 2023

Rausch Report: Sharing Light This Holiday Season (November 2023)

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Dear Friend,

I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving. The holiday season is a chance to spend time with the people we love, eat nourishing food, reflect on the year behind us, and look ahead with full hearts.  

These last 8 weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for so many of us. I decided over the course of these many days that I needed to do something with these emotions and use my platform to address what we've seen unfold since October 7.

In my last newsletter, I shared that I co-authored the Massachusetts Senate resolution supporting the people of Israel, the victims of Hamas's terrorist attack, and those who are being held hostage. Since then, I have continued to vocally denounce and condemn antisemitism in our communities, our Commonwealth, and our nation. I also led a bipartisan nationwide open letter to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and all Members of Congress signed by nearly 300 state lawmakers from more than half the states in the country denouncing antisemitism and Islamophobia and committing to further educational efforts to expose and reduce anti-Jewish prejudice and extremism. In addition, I hosted an open community space for people impacted by the terrorism and violence in Israel and the attendant antisemitism, communicated with all the superintendents in our district about the drastic rise in antisemitism, collaborated with our partners in the Healey-Driscoll Administration to secure the near-immediate remediation of antisemitic graffiti on the Mass Pike, and have been in conversation with local, national, and international leaders including Israel's Special Envoy for Combatting Antisemitism about productive next steps for this critical work. 

We have much more to do to address the stark rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia and combat hatred in all its forms. I will continue these efforts in many ways, including my service as a member of the Hate Crimes Task Force. (In that capacity, I was honored to join the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and statewide leaders in equity and inclusion as Governor Healey announced new strategies for addressing identity-based incidents of hatred. One of these strategies is the creation of the "Hate Crimes Awareness and Response Team" (HART), which is tasked with improving statewide data collection efforts to identify patterns and trends, developing training with the Municipal Police Training Committee, and improving coordination across all levels of law enforcement. As we experience record levels of hatred and bigotry, these strategies are both timely and sorely needed. Read more here.) 

This month's Rausch Report includes legislative updates, a roundup of district events, joyful events happening in our communities, and more.  

For real-time updates, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you are a constituent and need assistance, please don't hesitate to call me and my team at (617) 722-1555, email me at, or attend upcoming office hours. We are here to help.   

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe, and joyful holiday season. 

Yours in service,  

Senator Becca Rausch   

In Committee

As Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources, we held two hearings this month about animals, fishing, hunting, and trapping. Our committee has now held ten public hearings, all of which were hybrid for easier public access, and we have heard testimony on a whopping 348 bills. I look forward to working with my House Co-chair Dan Cahill to advance important environmental protection and preservation legislation. 

Also this month, I testified on five bills I filed as part of my legislative portfolio. These bills would expand abortion access (S.1114), protect people from doxing (S.1116), safeguard the freedom of the press (S.1115), prevent minors from overdosing on dextromethorphan (S.1456), and modernize birth certificates (S.1459).  

On the Floor

Earlier this month, I voted yes alongside my Senate colleagues to pass two important pieces of legislation before the winter recess: An Act Relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Costs, and Transparency (the PACT Act) and the Supplemental Budget to close out Fiscal Year 2023.  

Improving Pharmaceutical Access, Cost, and Transparency 

The bipartisan PACT Act would make urgent and much-needed reforms to the pharmaceutical system in the state by lowering the cost of drugs at the pharmacy counter and improving oversight of the pharmaceutical industry. It also creates more equitable access to life-saving medications by providing a free, no-cost sharing option for certain drugs used to treat chronic illnesses. I secured two successful amendments to enhance transparency and accountability. This legislation now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration. 

Supplemental Close-Out Budget 

The Senate's supplemental close-out budget totaled $2.81 billion and contained several provisions to support the ongoing operations of programs and services that benefit the residents of the Commonwealth, including $250 million to address the ongoing need for emergency housing. I joined my colleagues on a successful amendment to improve oversight, transparency, and accountability for contract compliance among emergency housing providers. The supplemental budget also included: 

  • $75 million for school districts impacted by special education tuition rate increases; 
  • $15 million for disaster relief for municipalities impacted by storms and naturals disasters that occurred in 2023; 
  • Funding to implement collective bargaining agreements; and 
  • $500,000 for the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Youth. 

I filed a single amendment to the Senate close-out budget that would have permanently fixed our state primary scheduling problem. As I said in my remarks on the floor, the statutorily dictated state primary date is so bad that the Legislature has had to change it every election cycle since 2012. Once again, this close-out budget moves the state primary date, and once again, it will be held on the day after Labor Day, yielding a host of problems for access to the ballot, engagement among candidates and voters, and logistics for our local clerks. Our current statutory law governing the scheduling of our last-in-the-nation state primary is a detriment to democracy and must be changed. While this amendment was unsuccessful, I will keep pushing for this necessary shift to align our state primary with the overwhelming majority of similar state primaries in the nation, which are held in late Spring. I've filed legislation to generate this change as well (S.435 and S.439).  

I am pleased to report that earlier today, after advocacy from me and many of my colleagues, an agreement was reached between the two chambers on a compromise bill. I look forward to its adoption in both the House and the Senate so collective bargaining agreements and other matters may be funded and finalized and the state comptroller can close the books on Fiscal Year 2023.

Our mailing address is:
The Office of Senator Becca Rausch
Massachusetts State House, Room 215
24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133

 Note this newsletter was shortened for publication here. To view the full set of content, follow this link ->

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