Each new session brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the State House as members file legislation for the two-year session. I have been consulting with key advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, Prisoners Legal Services, MassRivers, and many of my colleagues in the Legislature in an effort to develop innovative and important solutions to pressing issues that the Commonwealth faces.
For this upcoming two-year session, I have filed key pieces of legislation in various policy areas. Some of the legislation is cutting-edge and filed for the first time this session. Others are “re-files” from previous years, meaning they are the same or similar to previous bills. Below, I have highlighted some of my priority bills, organizing others by policy area.
H.1731, An Act promoting access to counsel and housing stability in Massachusetts (Access to Counsel, filed with Rep. Day) –Massachusetts is facing a crisis of housing instability. In 2020, approximately 22,000 households were served eviction papers, and 91.5% of those tenants were not represented by counsel in court, while the vast majority of landlords are represented. This bill creates a statewide program that will provide legal assistance and representation to indigent individuals involved in eviction proceedings. The program will be administered by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) with support from an advisory committee. In addition to providing legal representation, this bill requires that landlords attach a form approved by the Chief Justice of the SJC which will notify eligible tenants of their right to representation when they are served with an eviction notice.
H.2934, An Act to improve transparency and accountability in correctional facilities (filed with Rep. Decker) – This legislation allows news media representatives to have unimpeded, confidential access to prisoners at correctional facilities, similar to the current regulations for attorneys. This legislation establishes a phone line for news media representatives to communicate with incarcerated persons and allows attorneys to bring news media representatives along to any legal in-person and video visits with incarcerated people. This bill also bans retaliation against incarcerated persons for communicating with news media representatives in all of the jails and prisons in the state. Supported by Prisoners Legal Services.
H.890, An Act responding to the threat of invasive species – Aquatic and terrestrial invasive species pose expensive challenges for most communities, conservation organizations, and private landowners across the state. This legislation would establish an Invasive Species Office with a dedicated Statewide Invasive Species Coordinator that would be tasked with creating a Statewide Invasive Species Management Plan. It would also establish a grant program to help combat the spread of invasive species. Supported by MassRivers.
H.1940, An Act relative to transparency in the workplace (Filed with Rep. Barber) – The wage gap has persisted despite our efforts against it. This legislation aims to change that by enhancing transparency and allowing us to get an accurate measure of the wage gap, without shaming employers. The bill would require employers to submit wage data reports (which they already file federally) to the Secretary of State. The reports include data points related to employees’ job titles, ethnicity, gender identity, and compensation. This data would be published annually, in an anonymous ad aggregated format, for every industry. It is supported by the Wage Equity Now (WEN) Coalition and the Women’s Caucus, has a senate counterpart filed by Senators Feeney and Miranda, and works in conjunction with a salary range transparency bill.
H.2932, An Act to establish the family caregiving tax credit – The Act will provide family caregivers with an income tax credit to cover expenses incurred by a taxpayer for the care and support of a qualifying family member. The amount of the credit is equal to 100% of eligible expenses, with a maximum allowable credit of $1,500. The tax credit would help address the financial challenges of caregiving, and allow more unpaid family caregivers to keep their family members in the community. A top priority of AARP.
H.83, An Act to establish the Massachusetts Data Privacy Protection Act (filed with Rep. Vargas) — The Massachusetts Data Privacy Protection Act (MDPPA) regulates how companies collect, process, and transfer our personal data in a variety of ways, as to protect and enhance users’ privacy rights. Specifically, the bill will set limitations on how and when sensitive data can be sold to third parties, prevent pay-for-privacy schemes and retaliation against users exercising their privacy rights, and provide individuals with rights of data access, correction, and deletion, as well as targeted advertising opt-out rights. The Attorney General’s office would be given enforcement power, and large data holders would also be required to conduct annual privacy impact assessments, as to assure regulations are adhered to. MDPPA, filed with Rep. Vargas, is also a top priority of the ACLU of Massachusetts.
H.2261, An Act to prohibit the use of polystyrene foam food containers — This bill would ban stores and food distributors from selling or packing food in polystyrene foam (Styrofoam). Supported by the Conservation Law Foundation.
H.1161, An Act to Improve Sickle Cell Care (filed with Rep. Bud Williams) – This bill seeks to improve care for sickle cell patients by creating a steering committee housed within the Department of Public Health, establishing a Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Registry to provide the community with better data, creating a sickle cell disease quality program at MassHealth, and ensuring access to fertility preservation services for patients undergoing certain treatments.
H.1728, An Act to implement the recommendations of the special commission on facial recognition technology (Filed with Rep. Ramos) — In 2020, sweeping police reform was introduced into law and while the changes made were significant, the final language left room for improvement. Facial recognition technology is a powerful tool used by law enforcement in the investigation and prevention of crimes, but the technology is often inaccurate and its use is somewhat unregulated. This bill prohibits the use of face surveillance to track and monitor people in public places, creates a centralized system for all law enforcement agencies to access the technology, requires that law enforcement officers obtain a search warrant before conducting a facial recognition search except in emergency situations, and establishes due process protections for people who are ultimately identified using face surveillance technology. A top priority of the ACLU.
H.1941, An Act relative to employee fairness — These adjustments to the state’s anti-discrimination law clarify that, given its legality under our state law, the mere presence of marijuana metabolites in a drug test is not a permissible reason for employment decisions (hiring, firing, etc.).
HOUSING ACCESS AND EXPANSION
H.1377, An Act to establish an office of fair housing and a fair housing trust fund (filed with Rep. Tyler) — This bill would establish an Office of Fair Housing, tasked with coordinating actions to overcome patterns of segregation, foster inclusive communities, and help the state enforce fair housing laws. It also establishes the Fair Housing Trust Fund, which will award grants to organizations seeking to further these goals. As we work to solve the housing crisis in Massachusetts, it is essential we do so with fairness and equity in mind. This bill will help do so. Supported by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. Representative Tyler is a dynamic, forward-thinking representative from Boston, and I am excited to partner with her on this idea.
H.1368, An Act setting a housing production goal for the Commonwealth – The legislation would establish a goal of creating about 25,000 new homes in Massachusetts every year through 2040. This would help meet the demand for housing based on projected population growth. The bill also sets a goal of having 20% of the housing produced is affordable. The legislation would not set any mandate requiring us to build this much housing. Rather, it only sets a goal that we can measure our progress towards. Supported by the Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association.
H.2974, An Act relative to senior property tax deferral (filed with Rep. Vitolo) — The senior property tax deferral program allows seniors to delay or defer their property taxes until their home is sold or conveyed. This legislation makes adjustments to the senior property tax deferral program to allow for broader participation and enhanced benefits. The bill does so by (1) eliminating the 10-year Massachusetts residency and 5-year occupancy requirements for the program, (2) raising the income requirement for the program to be the same as the Senior Circuit Breaker, as it is currently lower, (3) tying relevant interest rates to the current bonding rate of the municipality, and (4) delaying the accrual of interest until 1 year after death.
H.2103, An Act enabling cities and towns to stabilize rents and protect tenants (filed with Rep. Montano) – This legislation creates a local option for rent stabilization with just-cause eviction protections. Such a local option will allow cities and towns to slow the rampant displacement of their residents due to unprecedented rent increases. Rent stabilization is a means to address our affordable housing crisis, made even more critical as a result of the Covid-19 emergency. The bill sets certain clear and limited parameters to address concerns with rent stabilization among landlords and tenants, including exemptions for certain types of properties, predictable levels for annual rent increases, and protections from arbitrary eviction. Supported by SEIU.
H.1367, An Act to maintain stable housing for families with pets in an economic crisis and beyond (Filed with Rep. Montano) – This bill will accomplish four things: 1) prohibit some housing providers from arbitrarily refusing responsible owners with good dogs; 2) prevent evictions for one year after the COVID emergency ends solely because a family has a dog without written permission; 3) requires hotels to allow pets during the COVID emergency; and 4) prevent homeowners’ and renters’ insurance companies from discriminating (canceling, refusing to renew or charging a higher premium) against people based solely on the breed of dog they own. The bill permits insurance companies to refuse coverage for dogs deemed dangerous by law or with a bite history. Supported by the MSPCA.
ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY, AND RECYCLING
H.2104, An Act relative to the preservation of wetlands and water resources in Chapter 40B applications – This bill would make bylaws concerning wetland and water resource protections exempt from waivers under Chapter 40B. In towns that have not met a statutory minimum under 40B, there is an insurmountable presumption that the denial of waivers is inconsistent with local needs, and would be vacated in the event of a developer appeal. This amendment would eliminate that presumption, but only for legitimate wetland bylaws that are adopted under G.L. c. 40, s. 32 which requires attorney general approval, and which are enforceable by the local conservation commission, and only for bylaws that specifically protect surface waters and groundwater. Zoning boards could still grant such waivers if they determined that the waiver would not be detrimental in a particular instance.
H.887, An Act restricting distribution of single-use plastic straws – This bill would prevent restaurants and other food establishments from giving straws to customers, unless requested. Supported by the Conservation Law Foundation.
H.420, An Act to establish fashion sustainability and social accountability in the commonwealth (filed with Rep Nguyen) — The apparel and footwear industry is responsible for between 4-9% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is plagued by worker exploitation and child labor. Under this bill (based on legislation filed in New York), any apparel or footwear company doing business in Massachusetts that has annual global revenue of $100 million will be required to 1) disclose their supply chains and 2) take responsibility for their impact on those supply chains, by setting and achieving climate reductions in line with the Paris Agreement, responsibly managing their chemical use, and measurably improving the lives of their workers.
H.3213, An Act relative to better buildings — The Better Buildings Act will improve the spaces in which we live and work by enabling us to track properly, and regulate appropriately, energy usage in big buildings. An enormous percentage of our total energy use is expended running buildings. This bill will require that, for large (20,000 sq. ft. and up) buildings only, energy usage is reported to the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The DOER will review and publish this data, while also crafting energy performance standards based on the data. The DOER will create final and interim building performance standards for buildings to work toward, based on their current energy performance. Supported by Environment Massachusetts, filed in Senate by Sen. Rausch (SD.2046).
H.888, An Act to incentivize the reduction of residential waste disposal – This bill says that municipalities are required to report waste disposal numbers per capita for all residential services every year and if they are disposing of more than 500 pounds per capita they are required to adopt a Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) compliant program to reduce or divert waste from disposal. If within three years the state as a whole has not met this goal (on average) then the Department is authorized to promulgate regulations putting a ZWIA compliant program in place as needed. And in the future waste disposal increases above 500 pounds per capita, then the State is required to promulgate regulations putting a ZWIA compliant program in place as needed. Supported by the Conservation Law Foundation.
H.2931, An Act relative to sales tax exemption – The intent of the bill is exempt the first $50,000 of electric vehicles from the sales tax. Currently, DOER has a rebate program for electric vehicles that offer up to $2,500 or $1,500 depending on the car. This change will help to further incentivize EV adoption in the Commonwealth and allow the state to achieve its GHG reduction goals.
H.889, An Act to improve plastic bottles and their recycling – This legislation provides that the lids on plastic bottles should be made from the same plastic resin as the rest of the bottle. Further, it requires that plastic bottle lids would not be fully detachable from the bottle itself. Supported by the Conservation Law Foundation.
H.382, An Act related to environmental marketing claims — Bans the use of deceptive or misleading claims about the recyclability of a product or packaging. If a product or packaging has the “chasing arrow symbol” or uses other terms to show the product is recyclable/compostable/biodegradable, the company must prove the product is recyclable in MA, describe any significant adverse environmental impacts associated with the product, and disclose if the product conforms with the standards of the FTC’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.
H.770, An Act reducing packaging waste (filed with Rep. Connolly) — This legislation would require all retail food establishments to use only biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, or reusable products for packaging any food which is prepared or packaged on site. Making this change would significantly reduce packaging waste in the restuarant and fast food industry.
H.871, An Act to require producer responsibility for collection, reuse and recycling of discarded electronic products (filed with Rep. Owens) — This legislation works to address the growing problem of electronic waste by making producers responsible for collecting and recycling electronic products. The goal of this is to lessen burdens on local governments while incentivizing producers to manufacture more durable, less toxic, and more easily recyclable products.
H.3212, An Act advancing a delivered fuel energy efficiency surcharge for the commonwealth — This bill would impose a surcharge on the sale of residential and commercial distillate oil and propane, as to fund energy efficiency programs promoting electrification. The proceeds of the flat, per unit surcharge rate on these highly polluting energy sources will go to funding energy efficiency program costs for fuel conversions, developing clean heating and cooling workforce training programs, and supporting low- and moderate-income energy efficiency and electrification efforts. The bill’s goal is to disincentivize the use and purchase of fossil fuels, while supporting fuel conversions and helping fossil fuel industry workers transition to other work.
H.891, An Act to require transparency and disclosure by materials recovery facilities – This bill creates more clarity and accountability from municipalities regarding pricing, quantity, and composition of materials from materials recovery facilities (MRFs). MRFs have been charging increasingly higher rates to municipalities since China placed a ban on imported waste from the United States. This bill requires MRFs to report on the weight, composition, and destination of each commodity in and further asks MRFs to adhere to industry-accepted indexes when determining commodity prices. These requirements will balance the relationships between MRFs and municipalities and allow municipal recycling programs to continue and thrive. Supported by the Conservation Law Foundation.
H.886, An Act relative to combined sewer overflows (filed with Rep. Madaro) — A “combined sewer overflow (CSO)” is a type of sewer system that discharges raw, untreated sewage-contaminated water into our streams and rivers during storms and heavy rain. This bill calls for the sewage to be treated before being discharged into the waterways OR that the CSO outfalls be engineered only to activate in 25-year storms or larger.
PUBLIC HEALTH, HEALTHCARE, CAREGIVING
H.1237, An Act to ensure equitable health coverage for children – This will expand comprehensive MassHealth coverage to children who would be eligible for MassHealth if not for their immigration status. Allowing over 20,000 children in the Commonwealth access to MassHealth. Supported by Health Care for All and MIRA.
HD.1232, An Act relative to requiring insurance providers cover a minimum of 30 days for in-patient substance abuse treatment (filed with Rep. Howard) – The opioid epidemic affects every community in Massachusetts, and it grows more difficult to combat every day. Between 2016 and 2021, the opioid overdose-related death rate rose by 8% in Massachusetts. While there are many steps we can and must take in response to this public health crisis, one of the most important is expanding access to treatment. To help do so, this bill would require health insurance providers to cover a minimum of 30 days of in-patient substance abuse treatment. Currently, insurance providers are required to cover just 14 days of such treatment. Extending this period will assure those seeking treatment have adequate time to receive it, without facing heavy financial burdens. Representative Howard is the first Cambodian-American woman elected to the Legislature and represents Lowell. It is a privilege to collaborate with her in jointly filing this bill.
H.1736, An Act decriminalizing fentanyl test strips — In 2021, fentanyl was found in 93% of toxicology reports from overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The drug is extremely deadly, and those struggling with substance abuse — often unknowingly — are exposed to it. A simple solution to these unnecessary overdoses and deaths is for drug users to test their products for fentanyl. Unfortunately, under current law, life-saving drug testing products are included under the definition of drug paraphernalia, due to the broad language of the relevant legal framework. As such, those who struggle with substance abuse, but seek to remain clear of fentanyl are unable to purchase or legally possess fentanyl test strips. This bill would decriminalize testing products that are used to determine whether a controlled substance contains chemicals, toxic substances, or hazardous compounds in quantities that can cause physical harm or death. In doing so, it specifically decriminalizes fentanyl test strips, as to encourage proper drug testing to avoid fentanyl-related overdoses.
H.381, An Act relative to cosmetic labeling – According to the CDC, at least 60% of the substances applied to the skin, the body’s largest organ, enter the bloodstream in thirty minutes or less. Currently, only retail cosmetics manufacturers are required to list product ingredients. This same transparency is not required of professional cosmetics, even if products contain ingredients proven to be linked to severe health conditions like cancer, birth defects, and respiratory issues. This bill will require the listing of all ingredients.
HD.2776, An Act relative to overdose mapping — Massachusetts currently tracks overdoses in various ways, and the data is stored and published in multiple spaces. This bill, which is based on a Colorado program (which the Colorado Legislature approved just this year), would direct the state to publish, in a cohesive online format, where overdoses are occurring in real-time. The program would enable both private citizens and government agencies to track and monitor the progression of the opioid epidemic through overdose data. Doing so will better the state’s ability to alter and enhance its response to the crisis.
H.2258, An Act relative to improving asthma in schools (filed with Representative Owens) – The COVID crisis revealed glaring health inequities, among them poor health outcomes due to higher rates of asthma in communities of color. This bill requires schools with high levels of asthma to create an indoor air quality plan and recommends that such schools form environmental health committees. Additionally, the bill requires public schools to use cleaning products that meet certain environmental standards.
H.2259, An Act to establish a division of indoor environments within the Department of Public Health – The Covid crisis highlighted the importance of indoor air quality. This bill creates the Division of Indoor Environments within the Center for Environmental Health. A division with this mission will administer and enforce existing laws and regulations relating to indoor air quality.
H.2260, An Act promoting radon testing – This bill requires (subject to appropriation) that all schools and childcare centers undergo periodic radon testing and, in the case of dangerous levels, mitigation.
H.213, An Act to increase the safety of individuals with disabilities relying on life-support equipment (Tommy’s Bill) – The purpose of Tommy’s Bill is to increase the safety of persons living in a residential setting who rely on medical equipment. It will require residential nurses to speak to the discharge nurse when clients are in the Emergency Room or being discharged from the hospital regarding any changes in clients’ medications. The RN will educate staff as well as make any changes in Individualized Support Plans or Individualized Education Plans. Supported by the Arc.
H.1285, An Act establishing a fund to further educational opportunities for caregivers to adults with disabilities — This bill creates a pilot program to provide free community college to caregivers of adults with disabilities, so long as they have two years of service. Filed with the Arc
H.2011, An Act to Expand Equity and Access to Patient Centered Care for Substance Abuse Disorder — Sets standards for expanding medication addiction treatment options, incentivizes professional training, development, and general treatment of addiction care, and creates a professional mentorship program for addiction treatment providers, among other things.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES (CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PRISON REFORM, PRIVACY, ETC.)
H.1740, An Act establishing reasonable limitations on the solitary confinement of inmates 21 years of age or younger – This bill puts reasonable limitations on solitary confinement for those 21 and under. To make the implementation of this measure feasible, if a young individual poses an immediate and substantial threat to the safety of others, corrections personnel may use isolation briefly (48 hours), after which time isolation will end unless there is adequate evidence that the individual continues to be an immediate and substantial risk in which case isolation may continue for an additional limited period of time.
H.80, An Act relative to internet privacy rights for children (Eraser Bill) — Children use social media at younger ages and with greater frequency every year. Surveys have shown children between 8 and 12 years old average five hours of screen time per day. Due to the under-regulated nature of the internet, this high level of usage means that actions are tracked, mistakes saved, and personal data purchased earlier and earlier. Modeled after a California Law, the Eraser Bill aims to protect privacy rights for children by allowing them to wipe their internet and social media contents upon request. It would also restrict certain product advertising and marketing on sites or platforms that minors use.
H.1733, An Act expanding opportunities for individuals in the criminal offender record information system — This bill would limit job denial eligibility for individuals with non-violent (misdemeanor), first-time criminal charges that are pending during the hiring process. It would do so by removing less offensive pending charges (those not eligible for expungement under Massachusetts law, section 100J of chapter 276) from those required to be shown in the criminal offender record information system (CORI).
H.1732, An Act relative to civil asset forfeiture (Filed with Rep. Gonzalez) — In Massachusetts, prosecutors and police can take money and property they believe is part of a drug crime. The money can be held indefinitely, even after any charges have been dismissed. Trying to get money and property back is extremely difficult, and some legal experts have said our system may violate the Constitutional rights of due process. This legislation will amend our forfeiture laws by raising the burden of proof, improving reporting requirements, establishing a minimum threshold value of property subject to seizure, and diverting seized funds away from law enforcement and DA offices, as to avoid corruption.
H.1738, An Act establishing presumptive parole – This bill amends the parole release standard to require the Parole Board to rely on structured, actuarially-based parole guidelines and the findings of a validated risk and needs assessment tool. Under the bill, prisoners are to be released at the time of parole eligibility unless clear and convincing evidence shows that the prisoner would violate the law if released under appropriate conditions and community supervision. If a prisoner’s disability could impair their parole success, the Board must schedule a psychological or medical examination to ascertain and evaluate the nature of the risk that the disability poses and to identify any support, services, or programs that might mitigate the risk. Supported by Prisoners Legal Services.
HD2088, An Act relative to fusion centers — Fusion centers are intelligence-sharing centers designed, in theory, to facilitate communication between law enforcement agencies. In practice, fusion centers are unaccountable to the people and potentially violate Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. This bill establishes oversight procedures such as an annual audit of internal records, establishes procedures for citizens to redress privacy concerns, and forbids the collection of personal information of people who are not suspected of a crime.
H.1739, An Act relative to life without parole – More than one in ten prisoners in Massachusetts are serving a Life Without Parole sentence. Denying prisoners the opportunity to ever apply for parole not only robs them of hope and denies their capacity to rehabilitate, it wastes public resources and does little to promote public safety. This bill seeks to address this issue by banning mandatory life without parole, returning discretion to the judiciary to determine on an individual basis that a person eligible for a life without parole sentence may instead be permitted to see the parole board after serving 35 years in prison. This bill will not apply retroactively.
H.1734, An Act to define inducing a minor into prostitution (filed on behalf of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan) – This bill provides clarification to this criminal statute by broadening the circumstances under which someone can be prosecuted for inducing a minor into prostitution. The bill would eliminate this “defense” by amending the statute. The bill replaces “induce a minor to become a prostitute” with “induce a minor to engage in or to agree to engage in or offer to engage in prostitution or in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.”
H.1735, An Act to ensure the ability to prosecute repeat OUI offenses (on behalf of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan) – This will allow prosecutors to use previously sealed OUI convictions ONLY in subsequent OUI trials.
HD.3899, An Act relative to clarity and consistency for the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board (filed with Rep. Day) — This bill builds on and modifies data collection requirements in the 2018 Criminal Justice reform law. It harmonizes language in two places in statute, the authorizing language for the new Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board (JROB) and the language outlining the responsibilities of the Secretary of Public Safety regarding data collection and reporting. It also includes the DAs in the list of entities required to collect and report data.
H.79, An Act relative to providing for net neutrality and consumer protection (filed with Rep. Vargas) – This legislation both restores net neutrality within our borders and also establishes a Massachusetts Internet Service Provider Registry to give consumers full disclosure of any actions by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that do not adhere to neutrality.
EDUCATION, ARTS, CULTURE
H.3248, An Act to protect Native American heritage (filed with Rep. Biele) – The legislation protects Native American funerary objects, human remains, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony from being sold. Supported by Artists under the Dome and the North American Indian Center.
H.3249, An Act establishing the Representative Chris Walsh disaster and emergency aid fund for Massachusetts artists — Establishes a fund named in memory of the late State Representative Chris Walsh (May 20, 1951 – May 2, 2018) of Framingham, to help support Massachusetts artists who have endured emergencies and natural disasters.
H.561, An Act to establish an integrated cultural studies curriculum in our schools — The Integrated Cultural Studies Act will give Massachusetts students the educational foundation and tools needed to understand diverse cultural and racial perspectives and more effectively interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds. As the demographics in our schools, towns, and cities continue to evolve and become more diverse, so should our curriculum. This act will ensure students will be introduced to content, language, events, and prominent figures of major underrepresented racial groups in the United States, such as African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Indigenous-Americans, and Latin-Americans. Comprehensive cultural studies would expound upon the traditional Eurocentric-based history of the World and the United States and will modify the curriculum to include a more diverse array of cultural narratives.
H.560, An Act relative to media literacy in schools — Our children are exposed to media almost 24/7, but few are taught about the harmful effects of such exposure or how to evaluate and create media messages of their own. Education in media literacy can provide students with the tools and skills needed to be confident and competent media consumers—and informed digital citizens in this age of misinformation. This bill addresses this shortcoming by creating a council to survey media literacy education practices and recommending curriculum programs for Massachusetts schools to implement. It also creates a grant program for schools to develop and share best practices for this key 21st-century skill.
HD.3438, An Act instituting a media literacy teacher’s preparation program – This bill creates a program for colleges and universities to offer certificates in the teaching of media literacy as part of teacher preparation programs. Massachusetts students deserve to learn from teachers who have the tools and professional development to navigate this emerging curriculum space.
H.116, An Act relative to research by independent testing laboratories – Currently, an entity that is licensed by the Cannabis Control Commission as an independent testing laboratory cannot also have a financial interest in a marijuana research establishment. This prevents those labs from conducting important cannabis research. This bill would allow independent testing laboratories or employees thereof to hold a marijuana research establishment license.
H.117, An Act relative to vertical integration of medical marijuana businesses — This legislation would provide the Cannabis Control Commission the power to issue medical marijuana licenses without requiring licensees to be fully integrated. This change would allow for and encourage greater participation in the industry, which will expand patients’ access to medical marijuana. It also directs the Commission to encourage participation by communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition.
H.3414, An Act relative to accurate impairment testing – This legislation states that no driver shall have their driver’s license suspended, or be sanctioned in any other way, for refusing to take a road impairment test that has not been scientifically proven.
H.712, An Act enabling cities and towns to extend voting rights in municipal elections to certain noncitizens of the Commonwealth — This bill was filed by Rep. Rushing for many sessions and would give discretion to cities and towns to allow their non-citizen residents to vote in local elections by lifting the requirement of home rule petitions and allowing approval of such initiatives by local governments and local referenda instead.
H.713, An Act relative to the qualification of voters – While the Massachusetts Constitution precludes imprisoned felons from voting in some state elections, this bill restores one of our most basic civil rights to those incarcerated for low-level, non-violent felonies.
INDUSTRY AND EMPLOYMENT LAW
H.1879, An Act relative to bereavement leave (filed with Rep. Garballey) — An Act Relative to Bereavement Leave will allow those who suffer the death of a loved one to take time to grieve without the additional worry that it will result in job loss. Grief is a process that is different for each of us and this bill recognizes that and allows flexibility by allowing Bereavement leave on an intermittent basis. The death of a family member is a life-altering event, and this legislation would allow those suffering a loss the time and support to heal.
H.1737, An Act An act relative to advertising for justices of the peace — This legislation updates the legal text which regulates how justices of the peace may advertise their services. The bill does so by expanding the framework, which currently focuses on news and business cards, to include digital marketing tools.
H.2930, An Act establishing a tax for online advertising — This bill would create a tax for those providing digital advertising services in the Commonwealth. The tax would be 6.25% of an individual’s gross digital advertising revenue and would only kick in for revenue above $1 million. As digital advertising revenue continues to skyrocket, growing to $189.3 billion in 2021, it is essential we enact this legislation to assure those operating in this industry pay their fair share.