Senate Unanimously Passes Homeless ID and Relative Adoption Bills

The Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed legislation to make state identification more accessible to people experiencing homelessness. The Homeless ID Bill grants identification to homeless youth and adults seeks to mend these burdens by waiving fees for people who are homeless. The Relative Adoption Bill allows access to a person attempting to adopt a younger person if they are that person’s brother, sister, uncle, or aunt.  Families would be able to stay together under this legislation, creating more a stable home environment.

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.   I was able to secure $1,000,000 worth of earmarks for the following district projects. 

Earmarks 

Haitian Earthquake Refugees  

Provides $8,000,00 to the Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI) to provide desperately-needed resettlement services to at least 1,500 hundred newly-arrived Haitian families who have entered with the 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   

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 driver’s 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.  

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

Yesterday, I joined with my colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass a new bill. The bill 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. 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 the 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 

I am happy to announce I was able to secure $500,000 in local earmarks for local districts, cities, and towns.  A $47.6 billion budget for the 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.