Showing posts with label MA House of Representatives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MA House of Representatives. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2022

MA Senate sends multiple legislative items to the House for their consideration

Please find four press releases related to legislation passed by the Massachusetts State Senate today. All the legislation referenced now goes to the House for their consideration.

Criminal Justice Bills: Civil Asset Forfeiture, Juvenile Diversion, Juvenile Bail

DCF Bills_Safeguards4Children, Foster Parents Bill of Rights


Archaic Laws

Boston Globe coverage on the archaic law legislation (subscription maybe required)

MA Senate sends multiple legislative items to the House for their consideration
MA Senate sends multiple legislative items to the House for their consideration

Friday, June 17, 2022

S. 2924 "An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security" on Gov Baker's desk

"The House today passed a compromise election reform bill that was approved by the Senate last week and has now been sent to the governor for his consideration.

The bill (S. 2924) would make many pandemic-related election changes permanent, expanding some voting opportunities in time for the next statewide election in September. The bill does not include same-day voter registration, a sticking point between the House and Senate in earlier versions of the bills.

The compromise bill would change the voter registration deadline from 20 days before an election to 10 days.

The bill would also allow mail-in ballots for presidential, state and municipal elections, while allowing municipalities to opt out of mail-in voting for elections that are not held on the same day as a state or federal election. Municipalities could, however, allow in-person early voting for those elections if desired."
Continue reading the article on the MMA page

The legislation is not yet visible in the Governor's "On the Desk" page but should be shortly

The text of the legislation itself as amended and approved by both Senate and House

The legislation downloaded as a  PDF can also be found here

S. 2924 "An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security" on Gov Baker's desk
S. 2924 "An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security" on Gov Baker's desk

Saturday, June 11, 2022

MA Senate Passes Legislation Authorizing Chapter 90-Plus Funding

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday (06/09/22) passed a bill that would approve the authorization of $350 million towards transportation needs in the Commonwealth, including $200 million for Chapter 90 funds, which provides cities and towns with a funding source for investments in local transportation-related projects, including road and bridge repairs.


“Transportation infrastructure is a public good, and an example of an important and successful partnership between multiple levels of government,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “By incorporating decisions made by both state-level and local leaders, Chapter 90 funding ensures that many voices are heard and that new transportation projects function well at all scales of distance. I thank Chairs Crighton and Rodrigues for their work to ensure that transportation projects throughout the Commonwealth are fully funded and done so in a fiscally responsible way.”


“Chapter 90 funding is one of the most important resources we have to directly invest in our cities and towns, ensuring critical funds to improve the quality of our roads, increase access to public transit and enhance pedestrian safety,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I applaud Senate President Spilka and Senator Crighton for their leadership, and my colleagues for passing this bill today that infuses $350 million in funding to meet the local transportation needs of our communities and our Commonwealth.”


“The Commonwealth’s overall transportation system relies on the health of our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure,” said Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. “The bill we passed today represents a $350 million investment that will help cities and towns make the improvements they need so that residents can travel safely and efficiently.”


This legislation also authorizes $150 million in grant-based programs that will assist municipalities with various transportation-related projects. This includes $30 million for the municipal small bridge repair program, $30 million for the Complete Streets grant program, $25 million for bus-related projects, $25 million for increased access to mass transit and commuter rail stations, and $40 million for pavement and surface area improvements to non-federally aided roadways.


Having previously been passed in the House of Representatives, the bill will be sent to the Governor after enacting votes in each chamber.

MA Senate Passes Legislation Authorizing Chapter 90-Plus Funding
MA Senate Passes Legislation Authorizing Chapter 90-Plus Funding

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Competition for state legislative positions improves this time around

State election is shaping up to be competitive, more so this year than prior. According to the Commonwealth Magazine:
All 160 House districts and 40 Senate districts are up for grabs every two years. Among the pool of lawmakers seeking reelection, 92 representatives and 16 senators are the only candidates to qualify for the ballot in their respective districts, according to an  analysis of preliminary data from Secretary of State William Galvin.

Those legislators could still face write-in challenges, but given the sizable advantage incumbency offers, it appears nearly certain that 54 percent of the Legislature will cruise to another two years in office with minimal friction.


Compared to two years ago, the current cycle is a bit more competitive for legislative elections. A total of 125 incumbent lawmakers were the only major-party candidates on the ballot in 2020, representing nearly two-thirds of the Legislature.
The article continues to highlight some of the key races, among them is one where Franklin is involved.
Republican Rep. Shawn Dooley of Norfolk is challenging Needham Democrat Sen. Becca Rausch for her seat in the upper chamber, which she flipped in 2018 — under the previous district lines — from Republican Sen. Richard Ross with 51 percent of the vote. 
Read the full article online at Commonwealth Magazine

Friday, May 27, 2022

MA House Passes Legislation to Address Teen Sexting and Image-Based Sexual Assault

The Massachusetts House of Representatives today (05/26/22) passed legislation addressing teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” 

“I’m proud the House today passed a bill consistent with our intent during criminal justice reform to provide intervention through diversion instead of incarceration for minors,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “Additionally, the bill criminalizes image-based sexual assault by adults and affords victims of this crime protections, including the opportunity to get a harassment prevention order against their perpetrator.”

L-R: Speaker Marino, Lt Reilly, St Rep Roy
L-R: Speaker Marino, Lt Reilly, St Rep Roy
“This bill prioritizes survivors of revenge porn by unlocking resources for them while, at the same time, closing a loophole in our criminal harassment statute that will serve to deter and punish those who engage in these horrific acts,” said State Representative and Judiciary Chair Michael S. Day (D-Stoneham). “From providing access to victim witness advocates and direct input on criminal dispositions to enabling survivors to pursue civil remedies against their perpetrators, this approach will empower survivors to reclaim their lives in addition to providing clearly enforceable punitive measures for these crimes.”

“Under current law, when faced with an incident of sexting among teenagers, the police are forced with either charging them with a felony or doing nothing,” said State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin). “The bill passed today provides law enforcement officers with a middle ground that will allow them to educate kids about the consequences of their actions without ruining their lives. It will have a tremendous impact on people who have become entangled in the web and transmittal of images that can cause traumatic and lifetime harm through a diversion program that will educate them about the legal and personal consequences of “sexting.”

Currently, minors who possess or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. “An Act relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens and the unlawful distribution of explicit images” (H.4498) allows minors to be diverted to an educational program established in the bill prior to delinquency proceedings.

The educational diversion program, to be created by the Attorney General and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), would provide teenagers with information about the legal and nonlegal consequences of sexting, which would be made available to school districts. DESE should also encourage districts to implement media literacy programs in their schools as a prevention measure. 

A district attorney, however, is allowed to petition the court to bring criminal charges in extreme cases. The bill creates a new misdemeanor offense specifically for minors who possess or disseminate explicit images.

In addition to teen sexting, the bill addresses the nonconsensual distribution of explicit images by adults by establishing a penalty in the existing criminal harassment statute, including prison time and/or a monetary fine for first and subsequent offenses. Under this bill, a victim may also petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated this statute.

“An Act relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens and the unlawful distribution of explicit images” (H.4498) passed the House of Representatives 154-0. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

State Representative Jeff Roy's floor remarks can be found in this PDF

Sunday, May 1, 2022

State Representative Jeff Roy shares an update on the House FY 2023 budget

"The House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget this week. This budget responsibly responds to the needs of residents and makes targeted investments to support families in the Commonwealth. 

Funded at $49.73 billion, the House’s FY23 budget continues its strong commitment to cities and towns, and includes significant investments in health care, education, housing, and workforce development, among other priorities. It also includes a number of amendments I sponsored, including $500,000 for the Genocide Education Trust Fund and a one-year extension of funding for the Electric Vehicle Incentive Programs. 

Locally, Franklin and Medway received funds (highlighted in the graphic below) to help with substance use disorder, food insecurity, economic development, mental health screenings in schools, and voter enhancement. 

Many thanks to Speaker Ron Mariano and Ways & Means chair Aaron Michlewitz for their leadership in getting this budget finalized."

Shared from Facebook: 

State Representative Jeff Roy shares an update on the House FY 2023 budget
State Representative Jeff Roy shares an update on the House FY 2023 budget

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Commonwealth Magazine: MA House budget to be released on Weds; agreement on priorities leads to worry

"THE MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE budget, which will be released from the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, will include major new investments in early childhood education targeted at expanding the workforce and helping providers that offer subsidized care to low-income families.  
However, the changes, which are aimed at increasing the accessibility of childcare, do not address the problem that many middle-class families have affording the state’s expensive private pay childcare system.  
“We have to start somewhere, and the subsidized programs serve our most vulnerable students and children,” said House Education Committee Chair Alice Peisch at a press conference at Ellis Early Learning in Boston. Peisch chaired a special commission that examined the economics of early childhood education and made myriad recommendations for improving the system, to the tune of $1.5 billion a year."
Continue reading the article online

"KEY BEACON HILL lawmakers said on Monday they were supportive of Gov. Charlie Baker’s bid to tilt health care more toward behavioral and primary care, but they worried that the $1.4 billion spending mandate over three years would result in higher health care spending.

At a hearing of the Legislature’s Health Care Financing Committee, Baker and Marylou Sudders, his secretary of health and human services, pushed for passage of legislation that would require health care providers to boost spending by 30 percent over three years on primary care, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, and geriatric care.

The bill requires providers to boost their spending in those areas while still remaining within the health care cost benchmark established by the Health Policy Commission. But several members of the committee said they were concerned about the potential for a rapid runup in health care spending. "
Continue reading the article online

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Senate Passes Sweeping Social Equity Cannabis

Senate Passes Sweeping Social Equity Cannabis

Senate Passes Sweeping Social Equity Cannabis Bill

The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday passed S.2801, An Act Relative to Equity in the Cannabis Industry. Through the creation of a new fund that aims to support equity in the cannabis industry and improvements to the local licensing process, the bill levels the industry playing field to help members of communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement take part in the Commonwealth's growing cannabis market.

"I'm proud that when the Senate and the Legislature legalized the commercial marijuana industry in 2017, we prioritized the creation of a first-in-the-nation equity program," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Unfortunately, many barriers continue to prevent those historically harmed by marijuana prohibition from entering the industry. Today's bill takes important steps to address these by providing resources to support social equity businesses and putting guardrails in place on the Host Community Agreement process. I thank Chair Rodrigues and Senator Chang-Diaz for their work to bring this legislation forward."

"The legislation we passed today builds upon the goals that we have always had for the cannabis industry here in the Commonwealth - protecting consumers, supporting small business, and promoting social equity," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I want to thank Senate President Spilka for her leadership, along with Senator Chang-Diaz, Senator Cyr, Senator Jehlen and others for advocating to make sure Massachusetts remains a cannabis industry leader. Ultimately, this bill passed by the Senate promotes the continued growth of a competitive and equitable industry here in our state and I hope to see it advance to the Governor's desk very soon."

"Addressing racial justice in our state means getting real about closing our cavernous racial wealth divide," said Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston). "With this bill, Massachusetts will reclaim our leadership role, carving a path to make equity a reality in the cannabis industry. Lowering entry costs and opening up new avenues to capital will put this multi-billion dollar industry within reach for many talented equity entrepreneurs."

"When we passed recreational cannabis legislation five years ago, we sought to ensure the Commonwealth's budding cannabis industry would be equitable, diverse, and have ample avenues of entry for small-scale and Black and Brown-led entrepreneurship," said Assistant Majority Whip Julian Cyr (D-Truro). "Regrettably, the Legislature's intention to build an industry rooted in social justice has not yet been fully realized. Today we are living up to that promise by establishing guardrails on host-community agreements, allowing communities interested in pursuing social consumption sites to do so, and empowering a strong, vibrant, local cannabis industry with a robust cannabis equity fund."

"Limiting the cost of operation is part of promoting social equity and repairing harm to communities harmed by War On Drugs, by lowering one of many barriers to entry with the host community agreement reform in this bill," said Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). "I hope this new bill is even clearer in stating the intent of the law and the ability of the CCC to achieve the goals of promoting social equity. High costs of cannabis have helped preserve the illicit market for cannabis and this bill will take significant steps to expand business opportunities and lower costs across the commonwealth."

Social Equity Fund

The bill builds upon existing Massachusetts law, which legalized adult-use cannabis and made a first-in-the-nation commitment to equity in the cannabis industry. A combination of high entry costs and lack of access to capital have kept many would-be entrepreneurs from taking part, resulting in fewer than seven percent of cannabis licenses in Massachusetts going to social equity businesses.

Opening an average cannabis retail shop can require $1 to $1.5 million in liquidity, and the numbers are even higher for manufacturing facilities --at around $3-$5 million. Since federal cannabis laws prevent these businesses from accessing traditional bank loans, lack of capital can pose an insurmountable barrier, leaving many entrepreneurs vulnerable to predatory financial deals and damaging equity partnerships. The social equity fund, created by the legislation, would facilitate new access to capital by making grants and loans, including forgivable and no-interest loans, to equity applicants. The fund has the support of the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), whose commissioners voted unanimously to endorse the idea earlier this legislative session. The fund will receive ten percent of annual revenue collected from the marijuana excise tax (an estimated $18 million for FY2023). Massachusetts is poised to join a handful of other states in pioneering this program.


Host Community Agreements

The bill also responds to concerns about the process of negotiating Host Community Agreements (HCAs), which have been identified as a key factor in keeping industry entry costs high. The bill re-affirms that fees in HCAs cannot exceed three percent of a cannabis business' annual gross sales and must be reasonably related to the costs associated with hosting a cannabis business in a city or town.

Other components of the bill include:

  • Incentives for municipalities to prioritize equity, through a portion of the marijuana excise tax that is distributed to cities and towns that host social equity marijuana businesses. This is cost-neutral to the consumer.

  • A requirement that the CCC establish rules and regulations for municipalities to promote full participation in the industry by previously harmed communities.

  • Clarifications to the existing law's authorization of social consumption businesses, clearing a path for municipalities to permit on-site cannabis consumption businesses in their city or town via local ordinance as well as local referendum. Currently, many residents, particularly renters and those who live in public housing, do not have a location where they may legally consume cannabis products, even nine years since voters approved medical marijuana and five years since the approval of adult use.

The bill now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for further consideration.

Link to actual legislation -> S.2801, An Act Relative to Equity in the Cannabis Industry

An Act relative to the creation of a women’s rights history trail

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed S.2802An Act relative to the creation of a women’s rights history trail. The legislation celebrates the rich history of the women’s rights movement and contributions women have made across the Commonwealth. 


Each year, thousands of tourists visit Boston to walk the Freedom Trail, to learn about the founding of our nation and walk in the history of our founding fathers. This legislation would allow residents and visitors alike to follow a similar trail to learn about the women who have made our Commonwealth, and nation, what it is today. By attracting tourists to women’s rights history trail sites, this bill will also help to stimulate economic activity throughout Massachusetts.


"Women in Massachusetts have played a pivotal role at every step in the Commonwealth’s history, yet their contributions are too often overlooked," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "The Women's Rights History Trail will serve as a visible monument to the history of women—and the women's rights movement. Understanding this history gives us all a chance to reflect on where we have come from and what it means to leave a legacy that can uplift and inspire future generations. I am glad to see that this trail will give particular attention to the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of the women who have transformed Massachusetts. I would like to thank Senator Lovely and her staff for their work to make this a reality."


“Massachusetts has a rich history of involvement in the women's rights movement,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), the bill’s lead sponsor. “Women have had a pivotal role in shaping the policies of our Commonwealth, and this bill will ensure that those contributions are known and celebrated. I would like to thank Senate President Spilka for her strong leadership and the work she has done to highlight women’s history, and the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators for their advocacy. The history of these women is our history, and we must continue to advance that history forward.” 


This legislation creates a 16-member task force responsible for soliciting public input and conducting research to recommend sites, properties, and attractions for that are historically and thematically associated with the struggle for women's rights and women's suffrage, and that reflect Massachusetts’ geographic and demographic diversity. The Senate bill also requires the inclusion of accomplishments of women veterans in the trail, as well as recommendations for increasing the representation of women in the artwork of the State House. Members of the task force would include representatives from the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, among others. 


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and the Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism will be required to develop a program based on the task force’s recommendations, including educational handbooks, maps, signs, and vacation itineraries connected to the trail. The task force will have until January 1, 2023, to file its report.


With versions of this bill having been engrossed by the House and Senate, An Act relative to the creation of a women’s rights history trail now moves to the House of Representatives for enactment. 

Link to the legislation itself ->

An Act relative to the creation of a women’s rights history trail
An Act relative to the creation of a women’s rights history trail 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Mass Senate Passes Oversight Reform for Veterans’ Homes

On Thursday, March 10, 2022, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to increase public oversight over the administration of state-operated veterans’ homes in Holyoke and Chelsea. To improve safety and transparency at the veterans’ homes, the bill would restructure the chain of command to more closely match established administrative practices used in hospitals and other large organizations. This legislation follows continued scrutiny of administrative failures at the veterans’ home in Holyoke, which led to the tragic deaths of 77 veterans during the early days of the pandemic, and builds on recommendations made by the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak, which investigated.


“As the daughter of a veteran, I continue to be heartbroken for the families of those who lost their lives to COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I would like to thank the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak for their thorough investigation of this tragedy, as well as my colleagues in the Senate who have remained focused on dramatic and drastic governance reform to our veterans’ services to ensure the tragedy that occurred in Holyoke never happens again. The Senate will continue to lead in its efforts to support the brave men and women who have served our country. I want to thank Senator Rush for working for over a decade to confront the issues that affect the treatment of veterans and that impact veterans’ services, as well as Senators Rodrigues and Velis for their partnership in crafting this bill.”


“With the passage of this bill, the Senate recognizes the need to prioritize accountability and oversight, establish effective checks and balances, and ensure clear chains of command at our state’s long-term care facilities for veterans in order to prevent the tragedy at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home from ever happening again,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her leadership, to Senators Rush and Velis for their tireless efforts in shaping this bill, and to my colleagues in the Senate for their continued commitment to supporting our veterans.”


"The Soldiers’ Homes have long suffered from gaps in accountability and a confused chain of command, factors which left it unable to deal with a crisis like the one we saw with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Senator Michael F. Rush (D-Boston), Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs and sponsor of the bill. “The bill passed by the senate today tightens these gaps, enhances the level of oversight by elevating the Secretary of Veterans’ Services to a cabinet level position, and creates a stronger governing structure that supports our veterans and provides high quality care. Thank you to Senate President Spilka, Chairman Rodrigues, and my colleagues in the senate for your continued support of the commonwealth’s veterans


“From removing burdensome reporting layers and cleaning up the chain of command, to putting in place important infection control and medical oversight, this legislation builds on a lot of the critical lessons that we learned since the tragic COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in the spring of 2020,” said Senator John C. Velis (D-Westfield), Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “Those lives lost are the reason this legislation is before us today, to do right by them, and to do right by all the Veterans who will call Massachusetts home in the coming years. I want to thank the Senate President, the Chair of Ways & Means, and Senator Rush for their steadfast leadership on these important reforms and all my colleagues for their consistent support of our Commonwealth’s Veterans.”


This comprehensive reform bill is designed to increase the safety of residents of veterans’ homes in the Commonwealth. A new, full-time ombudsperson would receive, investigate, and assist in resolving complaints related to the health, wellbeing, and rights of veterans’ homes’ residents and staff. To effectively aid these efforts, a public hotline would be created for residents and staff to direct concerns. The bill would also task the Department of Public Health (DPH) with regularly inspecting the homes; all inspection reports would being made publicly available, excluding identifying information of patients and staff. Veterans' homes would be required to be licensed as long-term care facilities by DPH and adhere to the same standards and regulations.


Amendments adopted during floor debate will ensure that all veterans’ homes are licensed as long-term care facilities; employ both an infection control specialist and an emergency preparedness specialist; have adequate infection control programs in place; and establish best practices for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. Other adopted amendments direct the Secretary of Veteran’s Services to conduct an outreach program on the benefits and application process for the veterans’ homes, and require all annual reports from the statewide and regional veterans’ homes advisory councils to be publicly accessible online.


State-operated veterans’ homes in Massachusetts are managed by a Superintendent, who is responsible for everyday operation of the homes and for ensuring improvements to quality of care. The Senate’s legislation would give the authority to appoint a superintendent for each of the Veterans’ Homes to the Executive Director of the Office of Veterans’ Homes and Housing (OVHH). Under the legislation, superintendents would be required to fulfill certain criteria, including being a licensed nursing home administrator with experience running a long-term care facility. Priority would also be given to superintendent candidates who are themselves veterans.


The Executive Director of OVHH would be appointed by the Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Services, which would be elevated to a cabinet-level position, appointed by the Governor. The Secretary would be required to promulgate regulations concerning the operations and administration of veterans’ homes. Elevating the Secretary to a cabinet-level position would facilitate more timely attention to all personnel challenges.

In addition to altering the command structure responsible for managing veterans’ homes, the bill would also create a statewide Massachusetts Veterans’ Homes Advisory Council, tasked with recommending policies to the Secretary of Veterans Services, as well as Regional Councils, which would be tasked with representing the interests of the local community, residents, and family members at each veterans’ home. Both the statewide Massachusetts Veterans’ Homes Advisory Council and Regional Councils would report annually to the Secretary and to the Legislature. Together with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, these councils would be empowered to submit nominations for and recommend the removal of superintendents. 


Furthermore, the bill would require each home to have a full-time specialist in infection control and emergency preparedness and to adhere to medically-sound guidelines for trauma-informed care, including best practices for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide prevention. Additionally, the homes would be required to maintain organizational plans, updated annually, for normal and emergency operations.


The Senate’s bill would remove existing procedural hurdles which make it harder to donate operating supplies, clothing, medical equipment, personal hygiene products, and holiday gifts to veterans’ homes.


This legislation would set procedures and guidelines for filling vacant positions at veterans’ homes, including posting job openings in a timely fashion, and ensuring that an employee is available to temporarily be tasked with any unfulfilled emergency duties while the position is vacant. Additionally, annual performance reviews would be mandated for all leadership positions at each home.


To facilitate veterans’ access to health care, state-operated veterans’ homes would be required to accept Medicare and Medicaid payments. The bill would also provide mental health resources to employees of state-operated veterans’ homes who worked during the pandemic, and create a commission to rename the Veterans’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke after specific Massachusetts veterans.


Finally, the Senate adopted an amendment from Senator Velis to establish March 21 as Veterans’ Homes Remembrance Day, to honor the veterans who lost their lives due to the tragic COVID-19 outbreaks at veterans’ homes.


As a version of An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the commonwealth’s veterans’ homes has previously passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve any differences between the Senate and House versions.   

Senate Legislation link ->

House Legislation link ->

MASS Senate Unveils Oversight Reform for Veterans’ Homes
MASS Senate Unveils Oversight Reform for Veterans’ Homes

Friday, December 3, 2021

"The ARPA money is intended as a multi-year investment"

"The final version of a bill spending billions in federal aid was revealed late Wednesday, long after dark. By Thursday morning, the $4 billion package emerged in a nearly empty chamber of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where it was approved without an audible “yea” or “nay.” Four minutes later, the session was over.

The moves ushered the long-sought bill to the Senate and inched it closer to the governor’s desk — but with no formal remarks, just six of 159 representatives on hand, and the public still physically locked out of the building.

The sweeping spending legislation promises hundreds of millions of dollars for everything from housing to workforce training to Massachusetts’ health care system. It also offers the potential of transformational change for industries and communities walloped by the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers say."

Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)
CommonWealth Magazine coverage of this is here -> 

The legislation itself can be found online ->

he Massachusetts State House, still closed and mostly inactive.EPA
he Massachusetts State House, still closed and mostly inactive.EPA

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding

Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor's Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding

Ensures adequate funding for school districts, RTAs, police training, behavioral health and more 

The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday passed a bill to override Governor Charlie Baker's vetoes on certain items in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget passed earlier this month. The actions taken by the Senate will ensure adequate funding for school districts, regional transit authorities (RTAs), and public and mental health supports, as well as the implementation of last year's landmark police reform bill. Additionally, the bill includes measures to reinstate certain guidance relevant to state bodies such as the MBTA and prison facilities.

"Our Fiscal Year 2022 budget was carefully crafted and debated to ensure the success of our efforts to get back to better by focusing on resources and services that are critical to everyday life in the Commonwealth," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "The Senate refuses to compromise on investing in public transportation, our schools, and behavioral health supports, among other things, which are so important to our recovery. I would like to thank Chair Rodrigues, the entire Ways and Means committee, and my colleagues for acting swiftly to override the Governor's actions.

"The votes we took to swiftly override the Governor's vetoes ensure we stay the course and uphold the spirit of a forward-looking, fiscally responsible Fiscal Year 2022 budget plan that this Senate passed unanimously a few weeks ago," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I want to thank my friend, Senate President Spilka for her close counsel and leadership, Chair Michlewitz for his continued partnership, the members and staff of Ways and Means for their hard work and my colleagues and their staffs for their input throughout this process. Collectively, our actions today support our Commonwealth and our communities, providing municipalities with critical resources necessary to meet the requirements of police reform, preserving an equitable funding stream for our regional transit authorities, while taking a common-sense approach to fulfill future obligations we know exist—fully funding the Student Opportunity and meeting our state pension needs."

Many of the Governor's vetoes were cost-cutting measures deemed unnecessary by the Legislature in light of the state's need to invest in crucial programs and services. Gubernatorial vetoes threatened $150,000 in funding for the children's behavioral health advisory council, as well as $150,000 for Emergency Family Assistance Shelters. With the Legislature's overrides, these funds are now restored.

To offset the cost of charter schools on school districts, this legislation reinstates a policy of 100 per cent charter school tuition reimbursement for school districts which have reached the spending cap on charter schools, thereby providing $2.9 million to school districts across the Commonwealth. For local transportation, $3.5 million is reinstated to enable Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to operate effectively as use of public transportation picks back up.

Last year's omnibus police reform legislation, An Act relative to justice, equity and accountability in law enforcement in the Commonwealth, included provisions requiring cities and towns in Massachusetts to follow new officer training standards. In line with this, the Legislature set aside $1 million in funding to pay cities and towns for costs incurred by new training programs, which the Governor vetoed entirely. The override legislation reinstates this funding so that cities and towns can be compliant with the police reform law without additional financial burden.

Citing fiscal concerns, the Senate also voted to further delay implementation of a tax deduction for charitable donations until at least 2023.

"The trigger for the charitable tax deduction was the income tax hitting 5 per cent, and that happened January 1, 2020," said Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Pittsfield). "In the period between the triggering event and the start of the implementation of the charitable tax deduction, COVID-19 hit and completely changed our economic picture. A delay makes sense until we have more clarity on the economy and our revenue absent federal assistance."

The Fiscal Year 2022 budget conference report included two transfers of FY22 funds to help support known obligations that the Commonwealth will face in the future: fully funding the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) and unfunded state pension obligations. The Governor sent an amendment back asserting that there may not be sufficient surplus funds to make the transfers as proposed and recommended using FY21 funds instead. The Senate adopted a further amendment yesterday that suggests funding these transfers to the highest level possible given actual revenues at the time the transfer is to take place, thus providing flexibility to react to an uncertain future revenue picture while still requiring surplus funded to be dedicated to cover these future obligations.

In addition to funding projects across the Commonwealth, the legislation passed on Thursday encourages the MBTA to develop 'shovel-ready projects,' or projects in their final stages of development, in anticipation of incoming federal dollars and their requirements. The Senate also reinstated guidance on releasing, transitioning, or furloughing inmates from Massachusetts prisons in a timely manner.

Having previously been passed by the House, the overrides now return to the Governor's desk with a veto-proof majority.

Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding
Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes