Education and Local Aid

My top two funding priorities every year are Chapter 70 state aid to cities and towns for K-12 education and unrestricted local aid.

Education is the best investment we can make for our children and Chapter 70 financial aid is the foundation of state commitment to an educated society and productive workforce. In addition to focusing on school funding, I filed H468 to facilitate changing secondary school starting times for the health and safety of our students. Later school times can also benefit students academically. After editing by the Committee on Education, it is now before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Unrestricted local aid from the state provides essential funding to supplement municipal revenue. This helps take some of the burden off of homeowners and local business.

Meeting the Climate Crisis Challenge

We must pass legislation this year to move Massachusetts toward our goal of a greenhouse gas free green energy future by 2050. One of the bills I co-sponsored is H3983, an Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth. This act, presented by Representative Joan Meschino of Hull, lays out a roadmap for Massachusetts to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 with milestones to measure our progress along the way and protections for environmental justice communities.

Safeguarding Our Environment Generally and School Grounds Specifically

Is Glyphosate the new DDT? I am leading the effort to substantially curtail and eventually eliminate the use of this poisonous substance in Massachusetts. I filed H792, an Act relative to the prohibition of the transfer or use of glyphosate in the Commonwealth. If passed, legislation will establish a penalty for the transfer or use of glyphosate in Massachusetts. While domestic courts in the United States have rendered billions of dollars in court judgments against its manufacturer to compensate people sickened or killed and foreign governments have curtailed its use, this hazardous pesticide remains in widespread use throughout the Commonwealth and many of the processed foods on our grocery store shelves contain it. When I had my own blood level tested the amount of glyphosate present was three (3) times the level permitted to be present in drinking water in Europe.

I filed H791, An Act relative to improving pesticide protections for Massachusetts school children, in order to discontinue our children’s exposure to hazardous pesticides currently used in many school districts and to replace the Commonwealth’s list of pesticides approved for school grounds use with a list developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It received a favorable vote from the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA) and awaits further action by the House.

I filed H789, An Act relative to hydraulic fracturing. This was also voted favorably by the ENRA committee and currently awaits action by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Hydraulic fracturing is used to obtain oil and often results in contamination of potable groundwater and the creation of earthquakes.

Campaign Finance Reform

Passing a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The United States Supreme Court, in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, opened floodgates of spending by juridical (non-human) entities and billionaires in our state, federal and local elections and ballot questions. Throughout the country, bi-partisan groups of citizens have risen up to prepare and pass a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to nullify Citizens United and enable Congress and the state legislatures to regulate campaign spending by natural persons and other legal entities.

I co-presented H3208, with Representative David Viera (R) of Bourne, Resolutions for a United States constitutional amendment and a limited amendment proposing convention with 82 co-sponsors. It was voted favorably out of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs and awaits further action. Additionally, I was appointed by Speaker Robert A. DeLeo to the Citizens Commission Concerning a Constitutional Amendment for Government of the People. This was created by 1,871,989 or 71.4% of voters voting in favor of ballot question #2 in November 2018. We held 16 hearings from May 2019 through June 2020 and proposed two Amendments and a process for working with others throughout the country to achieve enactment to preserve our democracy by taking big money out of politics.

 Helping Our Seniors

Together with Representative Aaron Vega (D) of Holyoke, I presented H630, An Act relative to home care. This bipartisan bill with 62 co-sponsors would raise the modest hourly wages of home care workers who enable many seniors and younger people with disabilities to remain at home rather than having to move to a rest home or nursing home. To attract sufficient numbers of people to do this work, we need to pay them a livable wage. They are literally lifesavers for those they serve. This bill is before the committee on Elder Affairs, which I serve on, and its reporting date has been extended to July 1, 2020.

In the last session of the legislature, a bill I filed to afford seniors property tax relief was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives. The Senate passed it with one amendment on New Year’s Eve 2018. On January 1, 2019, I appeared with a small number of Representatives in the House Chamber, but was unable to secure its passage with the Senate’s amendment. I refiled it in the current session a few weeks later as H2477, An Act relative to the establishment of a means tested senior citizen property tax exemption, together with representative David DeCoste (R) of Norwell and a bi-partisan group of 20 co-sponsors. It has been reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Revenue and awaits further action.

Constituent Services

A State Representative has three main areas of focus:

  1. Crafting the annual and supplemental state budgets
  2. Preparing and/or advocating for passage of legislation to improve our lives – everyone’s life – in the Commonwealth
  3. Constituent services

While budget and legislative work benefit millions of residents, constituent work aids specific families, individuals and small businesses. It is very personal and satisfying.

When you have a state agency seeming to be unresponsive, call me.

If a utility or company is causing you grief and you do not know what to do, call my state house office. Often my team can find a solution or at least provide direction. Utilities and many companies are regulated by the state.

If it’s a federal matter and you don’t know what to do, call me. I find our Congresswomen representing the 13th Middlesex District and our two U.S. Senators very helpful and responsive.