For the 187th Session of the General Court of Massachusetts, I filed two bills and co-sponsored over 40 others that address a wide range of issues that affect my district and the state.
The first bill I filed (House Docket #1953 – An Act Relative to Renovation and Repair Contracts) ensures that the installation of protective fire sprinklers in all large construction projects is carried out by properly licensed and trained contractors.
The second bill I filed (House Docket #2578 – An Act regarding the certification and training of fire service personnel) is a Home Rule Petition on behalf of the City of Boston which would give the Boston Fire Department freedom to set its own training standards that meet federal guidelines without being under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Fire Council. It would also offer an opportunity for the City to generate revenue by training firefighters from other municipalities.
During my campaign, I pledged to fight for transparency and more accountability at the State House and increase citizen participation in the democratic process. For my first two year term, I am working to increase transparency by serving on the Joint Administration on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. As a member of this committee, I will be working to strengthen the state’s public bidding and procurement laws, to ensure the state’s open public meeting law is being followed and to oversee all state agencies.
To augment my work on the State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee, I co-sponsored legislation that I think will help increase citizen participation in our democracy. Two such bills, filed by Representative Michael Moran and Senator Cynthia Creem will ease the voter registration process. Another bill I co-sponsored will mandate that the Secretary of the Commonwealth carry out audits of election results. Funded by the federal government under the Help America Vote Act, the bill will require that one percent of the state’s precincts have their election results hand checked to prevent fraud on Election Day.
One of the issues that voters bring up time and time again is their concern for the state of the environment. I have co-sponsored legislation during this session to expand the “Bottle Bill” to cover water bottles, sports drink bottles and other drink containers that do not fall under the current bottle bill. This will make sure that 80 percent of these containers no longer end up in our parks, rivers and streams, but are instead recycled.
I have co-sponsored Senator Mike Rush’s legislation to create a Massachusetts Park Day and to require recycling in public buildings. These bills will not only honor and celebrate the state’s impressive parks, but will also ensure state buildings are environmentally conscious.
I also co-sponsored two bills filed by Representative Lori Ehrlich that will protect the public and the environment from dangerous natural gas leaks.
I have co-sponsored legislation that will keep Massachusetts at the forefront when it comes to health care. In order to protect patients, I co-sponsored a bill that will direct the Department of Public Health to set a limit on how many hospital patients a nurse is ordered to care for at one time. This will relieve overburdened nurses and help prevent medical errors. Another bill I co-sponsored will prohibit the practice of mandatory overtime whereby hospitals will not be allowed to force nurses to work exhaustive hours. Studies have shown that mandatory overtime harms patients. I have also co-sponsored legislation to help elders receive Mass Health coverage and increase standards for nursing homes and direct care workers who treat Alzheimer’s patients.
I have co-sponsored several bills to keep Massachusetts tough on crime. After the murder of Officer Jack Maguire, I see no reason that habitual criminal offenders like Dominic Cinelli should be allowed to roam the streets. There is no satisfactory explanation for how a felon serving three life sentences can be released on parole. Melissa’s Law, named for a young woman who was raped and murdered by a repeat criminal offender, will ensure that felons receive the sentences they deserve.
I have also co-sponsored measures that stiffen the penalties for the rape of children and eliminate the statute of limitations on childhood sex abuse. Children who are sexually abused are often unable to cope with their abuse and, thus, do not report it to police until after the statue of limitations has expired.
In West Roxbury, underage drinking has always been a problem, but the current penalties for underage drinking are so severe that police officers are reluctant to pursue criminal charges against teenagers for possession of alcohol. Senator Jack Hart and Representative Thomas Stanley filed a bill that I co-sponsored to create a pilot program to test a different approach to underage drinking. Instead of criminal charges, someone underage caught in possession of alcohol or attempting to purchase alcohol would be fined $300, have to attend an alcohol awareness program and be required to perform 10 hours of community service.
Lastly, human trafficking is a serious problem facing the Commonwealth. I co-sponsored a law written by Senator Mark Montigny and Attorney General Martha Coakley that will aid police officers investigating human trafficking and help the innocent people forced into this modern form of slavery.