Our Legislative Agenda, 2019-2020 (191st Session)

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2019-2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

In national rankings, Massachusetts often fares better than other states, but when it comes to issues from educational equity to climate mitigation (and countless more), we are nowhere near where we need to be. A regressive tax code hinders our ability to invest in our future. The ever-rising cost of health care and housing proves prohibitive for far too many, reinforcing existing inequities. Systemic racism leads to communities and families being ripped apart and civil rights being disrespected. And our democracy fails to live up to its potential as neither the administration of our elections nor the culture of our State House has truly entered the twenty-first century. 

When cherished values and policies are being attacked on the national level by the Trump administration, it's all the more important for Massachusetts to be a leader. We're ready to right to make it one.

[PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION - CLICK HERE - BRING WITH YOU TO LEGISLATOR VISITS THROUGHOUT 2019-2020]

Our Shared Prosperity 

  • Fair Share Amendment (S.16 / H.86): Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution to provide resources for education and transportation through an additional tax on incomes in excess of one million dollars (Lewis - O’Day) Creates a 4% surtax on income above $1 million to fund education and transportation reinvestment.

    • Passed first necessary constitutional convention to get on the 2022 ballot
  • Fully Funding Our Public Schools / PROMISE Act (S.238 / H.586): An Act providing rightful opportunities and meaningful investment for successful and equitable education (Chang-Diaz -- Keefe/Vega) Fixes our outdated school funding formula to more accurately and equitably distribute resources – giving all schools the funding they need to deliver high-quality education.

    • 11/26/19 update: The Student Opportunity Act (which contains most provisions of the PROMISE Act) is signed into law. 
  • Debt-Free College (S.744 / H.1221): An Act to guarantee debt-free public higher education (Eldridge - Higgins) Creates a higher education system where every Massachusetts resident has a right to attend any public college or university free of tuition and fees.

  • Affordable Child Care & Early Ed (S.288 / H.470): An Act relative to affordable and accessible high quality early education and care (Friedman - Gordon) Makes high-quality early education and child care affordable and accessible to all Massachusetts families.

  • Medicare for All (S.683 / H.1194): An Act establishing medicare for all in Massachusetts (Eldridge - Sabadosa/Garlick) Establishes a single payer system, in which the state provides health care to all residents as a right.   

  • Real Estate Transfer Fee & Affordable Housing Funding (S.773 / H.1769): An Act supporting affordable housing with a local option for a fee to be applied to certain real estate transactions (Boncore - Connolly) Enables cities and towns to assess a fee of 0.5-2% on residential and commercial real estate transactions, with the funds allocated to affordable housing trust funds.

All Means All: Agenda for Racial and Social Justice

  • Safe Communities Act (S.1401/H.3573): An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents (Eldridge - Balser/Miranda) Limits local and state police collaboration with federal immigration agents, bars law enforcement and court personnel from inquiring about immigration status, and ensures due process protections.

  • Visitation Rights (S.1379/H.2047): An Act to strengthen inmate visitation (Chang-Diaz - Decker) Strengthens and secures the rights of prisoners to receive visits and maintain relationships with their friends and loved ones without unnecessary interference from the state.

  • Eviction Sealing / HOMES Act (S.824/H.3566): An Act promoting housing opportunity and mobility through eviction sealing (Boncore - Moran) Requires the sealing of eviction records in order to combat housing discrimination.

  • Comprehensive Reproductive Rights / ROE Act (S.1209/H.3320): An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access (Chandler - Haddad/Livingstone) Reforms our state’s abortion laws so that every person can control their own body, life, and future.

Good Government/Strong Democracy

  • Election Day Registration (S.396 / H.685): An Act relative to election day registration  (Creem - Malia) Eliminates the arbitrary and discriminatory 20-day registration cutoff and allows eligible residents to register or re-register--and vote--at the polls on Election Day and during the early voting period.

  • Ranked Choice Voting (S.414 / H.719): An Act to use of ranked choice voting in elections (Lewis - Vargas/Madaro) Adopts ranked choice voting for relevant elections, enabling voters to rank candidate preferences and ensuring that the ultimate winner commands a majority of support.
  • Changing State House Culture (S.1898 / H.3572): An Act promoting equality and respect in the legislature (Rausch - Sabadosa) Creates an independent commission to investigate and report on complaints of workplace and sexual harassment in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment

  • Environmental Justice (S.464 / H.761): An Act relative to environmental justice and toxics reduction in the Commonwealth (Eldridge - DuBois/Miranda) Codifies environmental justice into law and secures strong enforcement of the state’s current EJ policy.

  • 100% Renewable Energy (S.1958 / H.2836): An Act transitioning Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy (Eldridge - Decker/Garballey) Sets the goal of 100% renewable energy economy-wide by 2045 and 100% renewable electricity by 2035.

  • Carbon Pricing (S.1924 / H.2810*): An Act to Combat Climate Change (Barrett) / An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions (Benson) Sets a price on carbon emissions to incentivize the transition to renewable energy, with parts of the resulting revenue allocated for green infrastructure (allocations differ between the bills) [* = preferred version]

 


* take action!

Legislators can show their support for a bold progressive agenda by co-sponsoring these bills. But they won't unless they hear from you.  CLICK HERE for step by step action plan. And don't worry about the fact that the deadline for House bill co-sponsorships passed on February 1st. Representatives and senators can co-sponsor a Senate bill at any time.


 


Other Endorsed Legislation

Although we have chosen to prioritize the 16 pieces of legislation listed above, we also endorsed a number of other bills (listed below). We, as an organization, will not be able to be as active on them, but we encourage our members and chapters to keep these bills on their radar and incorporate them into local advocacy as directed by your community.

 

Our Shared Prosperity 

 

  • S.1082 / H.1617: An Act requiring one fair wage (Jehlen - Farley-Bouvier) Phases out the discriminatory subminimum wage for tipped workers.
  • S.1066 / H.1610: An Act to prevent wage theft, promote employer accountability, and enhance public enforcement (DiDomenico-Donahue) Provides AG's office with additional mechanisms for enforcing the Commonwealth's wage and hour laws and subjects lead contractors to joint and several civil liability if their subcontractors commit wage theft.
  • S.1043 / H.1596: An Act relative to collective bargaining dues (Boncore - Chan) Strengthens collective bargaining rights for public employees in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.

  • S.1072: An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing and harassment, without regard to protected class status / Healthy Workplace Act (Feeney) Creates a legal claim for bullying targets who can establish they were subjected to malicious, health-harming behavior in the workplace (Healthy Workplace Act).

  • S.1110 / HD.3884: An Act relative to the scheduling of employees (Pacheco - Garballey) Provides workers (a) the right to 14 days advance notice of hours, (b), the right to request specific hours without retaliation from the employer, (c) the right to rest for 11 hours between shifts, (d) the right to be offered any additional available hours before an employer can hire a new employee to fill them, and (e) the right to collect unemployment benefits when an employer’s failure to comply with Fair Scheduling practices is the worker’s reason for leaving a job.
  • H.1660:An Act promoting pay transparency and pipeline advancement (Malia) Requires companies with more than 100 employees to report the gender and race of employees holding management titles, and requires the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to collect and post the data.
  • S.36 / H.102: An Act to reduce deep poverty among kids (DiDomenico - Decker) Increases monthly welfare benefits for children and families to reach 50% of the federal deep poverty level.
  • H.1609/S.1092: An Act Updating Overtime Protections to Protect the Commonwealth’s Middle Class Workers (Donahue – Lewis) Updates Massachusetts’ state overtime law to restore overtime pay protections to low and moderate income workers when they work more than 40 hours a week – and protects Massachusetts workers against the roll-back of overtime protections by the Trump Administration.
  • S.741 / H.1214: An Act committing to higher education the resources to Insure a strong and healthy public higher education system / CHERISH Act (Comerford - Garballey/Mark) Commits the Commonwealth to funding public higher education at 2001 levels, adjusted for inflation.
  • H.2424: An Act to strengthen the foundation of the Commonwealth (Connolly) Increases the capital gains tax, creates a corporate minimum tax, and enacts other progressive tax reforms to raise $2 billion in additional revenue.

  • HD.4284:An Act relative to vaccinations and public health (Vargas) Removes the religious exemption for vaccination.

 

All Means All: Agenda for Racial and Social Justice

  • S.2857/H.1520: An Act repealing mandatory life without parole (Brownsberger-Miranda) Repeals mandatory sentences of life without parole, which have strong racial biases and have been deemed human rights violations by international courts.

  • S.826/H.3358: An Act to reduce mass incarceration (Boncore/Livingstone) Repeals mandatory sentences of life without parole, which have strong racial biases and have been deemed human rights violations by international courts.
  • S.897: An Act to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences related to drug offenses (Creem) Repeals mandatory minimum sentences for opioid-related offenses, which were left in or newly created by the 2018 criminal justice reform bill.

  • S.825H.1486: An Act to promote public safety and better outcomes for young adults (Boncore-O’Day/Khan) Raises the age of criminal majority to 21, allowing offending youth to have better access to treatment and educational services and thereby reducing recidivism.

  • S.1052/H.1651: An Act to reinvest justice and opportunity in communities affected by incarceration (Chang-Diaz/Keefe) Establishes a training and workforce fund that would reinvest the savings from lower incarceration into neighborhoods most affected by the criminal justice system. 
  • H.2092: An Act Relative to Universal Background Checks for Private Sales (Linsky) Requires all private gun sales in MA take place at a gun shop so that a federal background check can be run prior to sale.
  • H.2045/S.1388: An Act relative to crime gun data reporting and analysis (Decker - Creem) Requires a detailed analysis of MA crime gun trace data to better understand the origins of crime guns.
  • S.2061 / H.3012: An Act relative to work and family mobility (Crighton - Farley-Bouvier/Barber) Removes immigration status as a barrier for attaining a driver’s license.

  • S.263/H.410: An Act relative to healthy youth (DiDomenico - O’Day/Brodeur) Requires school districts that provide sex education to ensure that it is comprehensive, age-appropriate, and LGBTQ-inclusive, with an emphasis on informed consent to prevent sexual violence.

  • H.140: An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors (Khan) Bans the harmful of practice of sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapy by mental health professionals. ✅Signed into law 4/8/2019

  • S.247/H.443: An Act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools in the Commonwealth (Comerford - Elugardo/Gouveia) Prohibits the use of Native American mascots in Massachusetts public schools.
  • HD.3746: An Act establishing an Indigenous People's Day (Lewis) Recognizes the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day and recommends appropriate incorporation into school curricula. 

Good Government/Strong Democracy

  • S.390 / H.681: An Act to extend early voting for all elections (Chandler - Vargas) Expands early voting to include municipal and primary elections.

  • S.12: Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to voting rights (Hinds)  / S.405: An Act Relative to Voting Rights (Hinds) Restores the franchise to prisoners incarcerated with felony convictions. 4/29/2019: S12 reported adversely out of committee.

  • S.392 / H.669: An Act to increase voter registration, participation, and to help prevent recidivism (Chang-Diaz - Holmes) Ensures that the voting rights of prisoners who still have the right to vote, and prisoners with felony convictions who are returning to the community, are respected and facilitated.
  • S.389 / H.720: An Act ensuring municipal participation of the widest eligible range (Chandler - Vargas/Fernandes) Enables cities and towns in Massachusetts to lower the voting age for municipal elections to 16 to encourage good voting habits early.
  • S.420 / H.635: An Act providing a local option for ranked choice voting in municipal elections (Rausch - Benson) Enables cities and towns in Massachusetts to adopt ranked choice voting for municipal elections.
  • S.2163 / H.3208: Resolutions for a United States Constitutional Amendment and a limited amendment proposing convention  (Eldridge - Gentile) Calls for an Article V convention to propose an amendment to undo Citizens United and authorize campaign finance regulation.

  • S.404 / H.646: An Act promoting political participation (Friedman - Donahue) Enables residents of Massachusetts to authorize small, regular deductions from pay, at levels they can afford, to contribute to political and advocacy organizations.

  • S.408 / H.639: An Act supporting parents running for public office (Jehlen - Connolly/Meschino) Allows parents running for elected office to expense child care to their campaign accounts.

  • H.2711:An Act to ensure gender parity on public boards and commissions (Haddad): Requires appointed public boards and commissions to be at least 50 percent female and, to the extent practicable, reflect the demographic diversity of the state

 

Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment

  • S.2005 / H.2802: An Act to secure a clean energy future (Pacheco - Balser) Enacts a comprehensive range of measures to transition Massachusetts away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

  • S.2106 / H.3008: An Act to Advance Modern and Sustainable Solutions for Transportation (Lesser-Ehrlich) Implements the proposed regional transportation climate policy (a carbon pricing mechanism for transportation emissions) in an equitable and clean manner, with 100% reinvestment of proceeds in clean transportation.
  • S.1931 / H.2877: An Act relative to solar power in environmental justice and urban communities (Chang-Diaz - Holmes) Eliminates barriers to the development of community and low-moderate income solar and assures meaningful savings for low-moderate income solar customers and renters.

  • S.1957 / H.2825: An Act Increasing Solar Rooftop Energy (Eldridge - Connolly/Lewis) Requires that all new construction be built to accommodate solar energy installations.

  • S.1933 / H.1609: An Act to Protect Ratepayers (Comerford - Benson) Prevents the Department of Public Utilities from approving utility profit margins, known as “return on equity,” higher than the average of neighboring states and lowers utility incentives to invest in traditional infrastructure at the expense of renewable energy.
  • S.462 / H.771: An Act relative to plastic bag pollution (Eldridge - Ehrlich) Bans single-use plastic shopping bags statewide and requires sustainable alternatives.

  • S.579 / H.935:An Act establishing the Massachusetts infrastructure bank (Eldridge - Connolly) Creates a public bank, capitalized by the Commonwealth and offering financing at lower cost to Mass cities and towns, increasing municipal capacity for making infrastructure improvements.

  • S.1694 / H.2653: An Act relative to transportation ballot initiatives (Lesser - Vargas) Allows municipalities to use ballot initiatives to raise revenue (increase a tax of their choice, sales, hotel, gas, etc.) that would be used specifically for identified regional transportation projects, something many other states already allow.

 

 


Opposed Legislation

The Progressive Mass Issues Committee has also chosen to highlight several bills that legislators should reject. Although there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of bills filed that do not merit passage, we are highlighting ones that could gain momentum due to their support by allies, backing by powerful figures in the state, or their superficial appearance to back progressive goals that they, upon further inspection, would undermine.

 

  • H.1163: An Act establishing a special commission to study the implementation of single payer health care in the Commonwealth (Hogan) The commission created by this bill would include the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHPs) and the Massachusetts Hospital Association, both groups which vigorously oppose making healthcare a right in Massachusetts, because it would cut into their profit margin. 
  • H.70: An Act to promote equity and excellence in education (Baker) This bill fails to fully implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission and, instead, imposes draconian measures for underperforming schools and incentivizes the expansion of charter schools.
  • H.1422: An Act relative to shared parenting (Garry) & H.1399: Act Act relative to parenting time (Dooley) These bills would change the legal presumption in custody battles from "in the best interest of the child" to a rigid 50-50 split between parents, with potentially destabilizing effects on a child's development.
  • H.2863: An Act relative to greenhouse gas emissions standards for municipal lighting plants, for the purpose of promoting the Commonwealth’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while acknowledging and preserving the statutory scheme of chapter 164 which places municipal lighting plant operations, finances, and rates under local control (Golden-Gobi) Despite the worthy goal in the bill's title ("reducing greenhouse gas emissions"), the timeline set under the bill would allow for municipal plants to still be using a significant amount of natural gas in 2050.
  • S.1029: An Act relative to wiretapping for drug trafficking offenses (Tarr) This bill expands state wiretapping to enable prosecutors to use wiretapping to investigate low-level drug offenses not connected to organized crime or other conspiracies, in what the ACLU has called the largest surveillance power grab in decades.
  • H.2419 An Act to remove the film tax credit expiration date (Chan) This bill removes the sunset date for the film tax credit without creating any new accountability measures.
  • S.1851: Resolve establishing a special commission to identify a suitable location for a justice complex in Southern Middlesex County (Friedman) This bill would would establish a commission to evaluate building a new jail for women in Middlesex County, but we need to be investing our money in the life-affirming resources of housing, education, healthcare, and social services, not more jails.
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commented 2019-02-03 12:13:20 -0500 · Flag
SD1035/HD3886/HD3624 (not listed) abolish mandatory life sentences though allow the sentencing judge to prescribe that sentence. SD533/HD154 prohibit life sentences entirely, and provide for parole review at 25 years for any person given a sentence in excess of that.
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