Senate Passes Mental Health ABC Act 2.0

The Mental Health ABC Act 2.0 is driven by the recognition that mental health is as important as physical health for every resident of the Commonwealth and should be treated as such. The bill proposes a wide variety of reforms to ensure equitable access to mental health care and remove barriers to care by supporting the behavioral health workforce. 

SENATE APPROVES NERO’S LAW

Bill creates new protections for law enforcement K9 officers

Nero’s Law authorizes emergency medical service personnel to provide emergency treatment and transport of K-9 partners. This includes basic first aid, CPR, and administering life-saving interventions such as naloxone.

Senate Passes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Spending Bill 

Bill’s focus is on transformational investments in public health, housing,
mental and behavioral health, and the environment 

A total of $3.66 billion in spending, utilizing up to $2.5 billion in available American Rescue Plan Act funds and up to $1.45 billion in available Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 state surplus resources. Informed by the testimony heard extensively throughout the public hearing process, which included over 25 hours of public hearings and more than 450 letters of public testimony, the  ARPA spending bill supports an equitable recovery for communities hardest hit by the pandemic, while maintaining the flexibility necessary to take advantage of future federal funding opportunities.  

Earmarks

  • Haitian Earthquake Refugees 
  • Provides $5,500,00 to IFSI to provide desperately-needed resettlement services to at least 1500 hundred newly-arrived Haitian families who have entered with permission of the U.S. government and are residing in Massachusetts, including funds for direct assistance, administrative services, and legal services. 
  • RPA-Federal Funds Accountability Panel  
    • This amendment Adds language in Section 92 that would allow 1 member appointed by the Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies to the 17-member panel of the Federal Funds Accountability Panel. 
  • Whitman World War 1 Memorial Arch 
    • This Memorial was built in 1926 in memory of the Sons of Whitman who made the supreme sacrifice.
    • This amendment would provide $80,000 to the town of Whitman for the relocation of the World War 1 Memorial Arch to the town park. 
  • Clinical Space for substance use services 
  • $75,000 for the expansion and renovations of a clinical space for substance use services at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center. 
  • Economic recovery for vulnerable Families 
  • $510,000 for a pilot program for One Family, Inc. to assist residents in the Brockton area in recovering from the economic impact of Covid-19 through the development of individualized education and vocational plans and career coaching. 
  • Schools on wheels 
    • $35,000 for the Schools on Wheels of MA for children impacted by homelessness throughout the commonwealth with support with academics, social and emotional growth
  • Hanson Middle School Soccer Field 
    • $200,000 for the improvements to the Hanson Middle School Soccer field to bring the field up to code. 
  • Haitian Community Partners (HCP) 
    • $100,000 would fund staffing at the Haitian Community Partners in the city of Brockton. 

Senate Passes SPEED Act to Support Military Families Relocating to Massachusetts

  • To support military families who relocate to the Commonwealth by providing career stability for the spouses of service members and quality education for their children. 
  • Military Spouse-Licensure Portability  
  • Expedited Military Spouse Teacher Licenses
  • Advanced and Virtual Enrollment for Military Children
  • Purple Star Campus Designation
  • In-State Tuition Continuity for Military-Connected College Students

SENATE ADVANCES GENOCIDE EDUCATION BILL

Establishes the Genocide Education Trust Fund to educate students on the history of genocide

This bill would establish a Genocide Education Trust Fund to promote and educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide. Funds in this trust would be used for the instruction of middle and high school students on the history of genocide and ensure the development of curricular materials, as well as to provide professional development training to assist educators in the teaching of genocide. 

Massachusetts State Senate Passes Healthy Youth, Gender ID and Student Nutrition Bills

  • Healthy Youth
    • Currently, when Massachusetts public schools provide their students with health education that covers sexual activity, there is no way to ensure that students are being taught research-informed and comprehensive curricula. 
  • Senate Bill 2534 changes this by requiring school districts that offer sex education to follow certain guidelines to ensure students are provided with age-appropriate, medically accurate, and comprehensive information, including: the benefits of delaying sex; effective contraceptive use; prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs); healthy relationship and communication skills; consent; and gender identity and sexual orientation. 

An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification

Would provide for a non-binary option other than male or female on birth certificates and drivers licenses. The bill also directs the state to begin the process of allowing a non-binary option for all state forms and instances where a gender choice is required. 

An Act to promote student nutrition

Prohibits schools from targeting students who carry meal-related debt with punitive practices such as withholding report cards and transcripts, preventing students from graduating or walking at graduation, barring students from participating in no-fee extracurricular events like field trips, or throwing a child’s hot meal away and replacing it with an inferior meal.

Senate Passes Bill to Authorize $300 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

Authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the chapter 90 program and $100 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, and improve public transit.

  • The bill includes the following components: 
    • 200 million in chapter 90 funding for cities and towns for projects to maintain, improve, and repair roadways, bridges, sidewalks, and bikeways. 
    • $25 million for the Municipal Small Bridge Program to support replacement or preservation of structurally deficient local bridges critical to local communities and not eligible for existing federal aid programs. 
    • $25 million for the Local Bottleneck Program to address localized traffic bottlenecks and invest in infrastructure to reduce congestion, improve traffic flow, and reduce idling and greenhouse gas emissions. 
    • $25 million for Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure to support municipalities and regional transit authorities in their efforts to install EV infrastructure and purchase EVs and zero-emission vehicles.  
    • 25 million for Transit-Supportive Infrastructure to create dedicated bus lanes, enhance bus stops and train stations, support passenger safety, upgrade technology and modernize infrastructure to meet demand and increase frequency of public transit services, and improve access to public transit. 


Senate Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

The supplemental budget includes $131 million to provide support and stability for our early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance, and $12.5 million for costs associated with the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill.

Senate Passes FY 2022 Budget

A $47.6 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). Targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguard the health and wellness of our most vulnerable populations and ensure our residents can benefit equitably as we recover from the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and build a more inclusive and resilient Commonwealth.

Earmarks

Silver Lake Regional - Dennett Playground                                   $25,000

Testing and Treatment of cyanobacteria/Monponsett Pond              124.000

Central Plymouth County Water district commission                            50,000  

East Bridgewater Forge Pond                                                                     75,000

East Bridgewater Grab and Go                                                                   10,000 

Champion Plan- Brockton                                                                           85,000

Hanover Pedestrian safety                                                                       100,000

North River-shared with senator OConnor                                              17,000 

Fire Chiefs Association- shared with Senator Keenan                            14,000

Massachusetts Legislature Votes to Enact the Student Opportunity Act

The Student Opportunity Act fully implements the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) to support the “educational programs and services necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s educational goals” as stated in the Commission’s mission. The bill provides an estimated $1.4 billion in new Chapter 70 aid over and above inflation when fully implemented over the next seven years. The bill modernizes the K-12 education funding and policy landscape in four areas:

  • Estimates school districts’ employee and retiree health care costs using up to date health insurance trend data collected by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC).
  • Increases special education enrollment and cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment.
  • Increases funding for English learners (EL) and differentiates funding by grade level to reflect the greater resources required to educate our older EL students.
  • Addresses the needs of districts educating high concentrations of low-income students

Senate Passes Bill to Ban Child Marriage

An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts prohibits a person from marrying an individual under the age of 18 years old. Minors who marry adults often lack the resources or means to protect themselves from abusive or coercive relationships. State records show that more 1,221 children — some as young as 14 — were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016

Bold Climate Legislation

In order to hit our 2050 emissions goals, the MA Senate passed bold new climate legislation. Some highlights from our Next Generation Climate Policy include: increasing access to low cost solar for low income communities, setting a deadline to convert all MBTA buses to electric, expanding development of offshore wind, and allowing municipalities to adopt “net zero” stretch energy code.

Champion Plan

Despite increased awareness and efforts to combat the opioid crisis, addiction continues to ravage communities across the state. In recent budgets I have been able to secure $50,000 in state funding to support the late Mayor Bill Carpenter’s Champion Plan, which has been a highly effective tool in helping those struggling with addiction in the city.

Central Plymouth County Water District Commission

I have been working closely with officials from the Central Plymouth County Water District Commission to advance their mission to ensure safe, clean, sustainable drinking water for the communities of Hanson, Brockton and Whitman. The commission works to restore and protect the water quality in the district’s many lakes and rivers- and ensures the health and sustainability of local ecosystems. It has been my priority to get annual state funding for this vital resource.

Student Trustees

Through an Amendment to the FY 2021 Budget Senator Brady has successfully passed language allowing part-time students to serve on the board of trustees. This is a tremendous help for part-time students, particularly at community colleges, where the student bodies are more likely to be majority part time. Part-time college students are more likely to be from diverse backgrounds and their inclusion as voting parties on their student board of trustees are vital to ensuring a diversity of thoughts and interests are represented in our higher education institutions.

Unemployment Solvency and Emergency Sick Leave Legislation

On Thursday, March 18th, I joined with my colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass a bill that would grant five days of emergency paid sick leave to every worker in the Commonwealth who is unable to safely return to work due to COVID-19. This legislation serves to protect frontline workers at greater risk of infection and ensures that everyone has the tools to self-quarantine without the threat of economic hardship. The bill also included significant advancements in the areas of governmental stability and relief for the unemployed and small businesses. Small business relief is advanced in the form of a delay of scheduled unemployment rate increases which were set to occur in 2021 and 2022 as well as exempting what would normally income received from forgiven PPP loans from Massachusetts corporate excise tax. Following the guidance of the recent federal American Rescue Plan Act, the bill also excludes up to $10,200 of income received from unemployment benefits from taxation for individuals making less than 200% of the federal poverty line.