2023 - 2024 Press Releases
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES BILL TO PREVENT ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION, ENHANCE PROTECTIONS FOR SURVIVORS
BOSTON –The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill to prevent abuse and exploitation as the first order of business of 2024. The legislation addresses teen sexting and “revenge porn”, extends the statute of limitations for domestic violence offenses from six years to 15 years, and expands protections for abuse survivors.
“This legislation updates our criminal laws to meet the challenges presented by today’s technology. It also ensures that we are educating students about staying safe online,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).
Currently, minors who possess, purchase, or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register as sex offenders. This legislation allows minors to be diverted to an educational program in lieu of criminal punishment. A district attorney, however, is allowed to petition the court to bring criminal charges in extreme cases.
The educational diversion program, to be created by the Attorney General in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), DYS, and the District Attorneys Association, would provide teenagers with information about the legal and nonlegal consequences of sexting, which would be made available to school districts. DESE will encourage districts to implement media literacy programs in their schools as a prevention measure.
In addition to teen sexting, the bill addresses the nonconsensual distribution of explicit images by adults by establishing a penalty in the existing criminal harassment statute, including up to two and a half years of prison time and/or a monetary fine of up to $10,000. The bill increases the upper limit of the fine for criminal harassment from $1,000 to $5,000. Under this bill, a victim may also petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated this statute.
The bill adds coercive control to the definition of abuse. Coercive control is a nonphysical form of abuse which includes a pattern of behavior, or a single act intended to threaten, intimated, harass, isolate, control, coerce or compel compliance of a family or household member that causes the family or household member to fear physical harm or to have a reduced sense of physical safety or autonomy. Examples of coercive control include threating to share explicit images, regulating or monitoring a family or household member’s communications and access to services, and isolating a family or household member from friends or relatives.
“An Act to prevent abuse and exploitation” (H.4241) passed the House of Representatives 151-0. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.
MA HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE QUALITY & OVERSIGHT OF LONG-TERM CARE SECTOR
BOSTON – Massachusetts State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to unanimously pass legislation that comprehensively reforms the long-term care industry. This legislation will expand the workforce, improve state oversight of facilities, ensure wider access, and prioritize quality of care. This bill addresses several of the recommendations made by the 2020 Nursing Facility Task.
“I was proud to vote in support of this first post-pandemic wide-ranging long-term care reform package,” said Representative Galvin. “The pandemic laid bare the challenges and issues our nursing home sector is facing. I have spoken with many Canton residents about their difficulties in finding high-quality long-term care facilities for their loved ones. This bill will ensure that long-term facilities are providing patients with the best possible quality of care in the safest manner possible.”
This legislation provides the Department of Public Health (DPH) with additional tools to monitor and take punitive action against facilities. DPH will be able to limit, restrict, suspend or revoke a license for cause and appoint temporary managers if a facility is not providing proper care. The DPH’s licensure suitability standards for long-term care facilities will include a more systematic review of the background and legal record of applicants and expands the scope of review to include any entity with at least 5 percent ownership interest in a nursing facility.
The bill also addresses workforce challenges facing long-term care facilities by creating new initiatives to bolster and grow the workforce. This includes workforce training grants to develop new Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), career ladder program grants, and leadership and supervisory training. Additional workforce policy changes will direct care workers, including CNAs, to obtain a certification to administer non-narcotic medications to long-term care facility residents under the supervision of a licensed nurse or physician. The training curriculum and standards for certified medication aides will be established by the DPH, in consultation with the Board of Registration in Nursing, and will require at least 60 hours of training, and will help long-term care facilities to satisfy proposed new federal staffing requirements.
The bill builds on successes achieved through the state budget and ARPA allocation processes including $165 million to help address frontline caregiver shortages in last session’s economic development bill, $115 million in increases to the MassHealth Nursing Home Supplement Rates Line Item in the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, and $25 million as a no interest, forgivable loan program for capital improvements in the COVID-19 Recovery bill.
Having passed the House of Representatives, the bill now goes to the Senate for their consideration.
MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE TAX RELIEF PACKAGE
(BOSTON)- The Massachusetts Legislature recently approved a tax bill to help families, seniors, and renters across the state. This bill will make Massachusetts more competitive and provide financial relief to residents in all income levels.
“The aim of this legislation is to make Massachusetts more affordable for all residents while ensuring our state’s economic health. This balanced legislation will benefit thousands of hardworking residents,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).
“It is no secret that Massachusetts has an affordability problem. As the cost of living, housing prices, and virtually all goods continue to rise across the Commonwealth and nation, taxpayers from all walks of life are feeling the squeeze and deserve some extra cushion to make ends meet. I am proud that this tax reform package provides balanced relief that will increase the Commonwealth’s competitiveness, help seniors retire with dignity, support low-income residents, bolster the State’s housing stock and support renters and homeowners," said Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough), representing the Bristol & Norfolk Senate District which includes the town of Canton.
The compromise bill includes the following tax changes:
Child and Dependent Tax Credit
The bill increases the refundable tax credit for a dependent child, disabled adult, or senior from $180 to $310 per dependent in taxable year 2023, and then to $440 in taxable year 2024 and beyond, while eliminating the child/dependent cap. This expanded credit will be the most generous universal child and dependent tax credit in the country.
Massachusetts’ current estate tax is an outlier. The changes made in this bill update the tax to bring it in line with other states by reducing the estate tax for all taxpayers and eliminates the tax for all estates under $2 million by allowing a uniform credit of $99,600.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
This bill increases the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the federal credit. This increase will provide crucial support to working individuals and families, benefitting nearly 400,000 taxpayers with incomes under $60,000.
Single Sales Factor Apportionment
Currently, most businesses in Massachusetts are subject to a three-factor apportionment based on location, payroll, and receipts. To support companies headquartered in Massachusetts, this bill establishes a single sales factor apportionment in the Commonwealth based solely on receipts, matching 39 other states.
Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit
This bill doubles the refundable senior circuit breaker tax credit, which supports limited-income seniors facing high rents or real estate taxes, from $1,200 to $2,400. This change is expected to help over 100,000 seniors.
Rental Deduction Cap
This bill increases the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000. This is expected to impact about 800,000 Massachusetts taxpayers.
Short-Term Capital Gains Tax
At 12 per cent, Massachusetts is among the states with the highest short-term capital gains tax rate, and taxes short-term capital gains at a higher rate than long-term capital gains. The bill lowers the short-term capital gains tax rate to 8.5 per cent.
Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP)
The bill increases the statewide cap from $10 million to $57 million for 2023, and subsequently to $30 million annually, which will provide Gateway Cities with an expanded tool to develop market rate housing. This increase is estimated to create 12,500 new homes in Gateway Cities and spur over $4 billion of private investment in these communities.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit
This bill raises the annual authorization from $40 million to $60 million. This increased authorization cap provides enough funding to spur the creation of thousands of new units of affordable housing annually while also bolstering economic development.
Local Option Property Tax Exemption for Affordable Housing
This new policy will permit municipalities to adopt a local property tax exemption for affordable real estate that is rented by a person whose income is less than a certain level set by the community.
Title V Cesspool or Septic System Tax Credit
This bill will triple the maximum credit from $6,000 to $18,000 and increases the amount claimable to $4,000 per year, easing the burden on homeowners facing the high cost of septic tank replacement or repair.
Additional Tax Changes
Lead Paint Abatement: Doubles the credit to $3,000 for full abatement and $1,000 for partial abatement, to support families with older homes.
Dairy Tax Credit: Increases the statewide cap from $6 million to $8 million, to provide more assistance for local farmers during downturns in milk prices.
Student Loan Repayment Exemption: Ensures that employer student loan payments are not treated as taxable compensation.
Commuter Transit Benefits: Makes public transit fares, as well as ferry and regional transit passes and bike commuter expenses, eligible for the commuter expense tax deduction.
Apprenticeship Tax Credit Reforms: Expands the occupations for which this workforce development credit is available.
Cider Tax: Raises the maximum amount of alcohol for these classes of drinks to 8.5 per cent, allowing more locally produced hard cider and still wines to be taxed at a lower rate.
Senior Property Tax Volunteer Program: Increases from $1,500 to $2,000 the maximum that municipalities may allow for certain seniors to reduce from their property tax by participating in the senior work-off program.
The bill also adjusts the Stabilization Fund cap, allowing the Commonwealth’s savings account to retain more funding. In addition, the bill requires married taxpayers who file a joint return with the federal government to file a joint state return, subject to exemptions or adjustments promulgated by the Department of Revenue (DOR).
Having passed the House of Representatives and Senate, the bill now goes to the Governor for her consideration.
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES WAGE EQUITY LEGISLATION
BOSTON – Massachusetts State Representative William C. Galvin (D-Canton) recently joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing the Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act. The bill requires employers with 25 or more employees to disclose a salary range when posting a position and protects an employee’s right to request salary range information.
“Massachusetts is a national leader in ensuring equality for all persons, so I am proud that the House has taken steps to further promote equity in the workplace through passage of this legislation,” said Representative Galvin. “In addition to helping to close the gender and racial wage gap, the policies contained in this bill would also help to make Massachusetts more competitive with other states by empowering job applicants and employees with the knowledge of the salaries they ought to be receiving for their work.”
In Greater Boston, women on average were paid 70 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2021, according to the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. This gap widens among communities of color, where Black and Latina women have the highest gender and racial wage gaps of 51 and 55 cents, respectively.
If the bill reaches the Governor’s desk and signed into law, Massachusetts would become the eleventh state to mandate pay transparency by requiring employers to disclose salary ranges, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Named after the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor and Boston native Frances Perkins, the legislation builds on Massachusetts’ Equal Pay Act which was passed by the Legislature in 2016 to bring more fairness and equality to workplaces.
The bill also requires employers with more than 100 employees to share their federal equal employment opportunity reports with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, which would then be aggregated and published to help identify gender and racial wage gaps by industry.
Having passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the bill now moves to the Senate for their consideration.
Canton Resident Receives Prestigious Award at the State House
Canton resident, Dr. Jenny D’Olympia, recently received the Deborah Sampson Award for her work supporting the military veteran community. Dr. D’Olympia was honored at the Women Veterans Recognition Day Ceremony, which was hosted by the Massachusetts Women Veterans’ Network and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Veterans’ Services. The event was held at the State House on the 75th anniversary of the implementation of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act that allowed women to serve in the military.
The Deborah Sampson Award was presented to Dr. D’Olympia by Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll, Secretary Santiago of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Veterans’ Services, Deputy Director of Operations Gina Rada of Veterans’ Services, and State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). The award is named for the first known female veteran who dressed as a man to serve during the Revolutionary War. Had Deborah Sampson been discovered, she would have been confined to a mental asylum.
Dr. D’Olympia has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years, where she has focused on military and veteran mental health and readjustment to civilian life. She is the Director of the Military and Veteran Psychology Program and Train Vets to Treat Vets. Dr. D’Olympia is on the faculty at William James College where she teaches courses on family therapy. She also provides clinical supervision to students who aspire to assist servicemembers and veterans.
Dr. Olympia is herself a veteran, having served in the United States Air Force Special Operations Command as an intelligence officer during Operation Enduring Freedom. Her time in the Air Force took her all over the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. Dr. Olympia also worked as an instructor for the Air Force Special Operations School and the Air Force Reserves for a combined 9 years of military service.
104-year-old Virginia Rocco Fiske of Chelsea was also honored for her service as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps from 1943 – 1945. The ceremony opened with the International Veterans Chorus singing the National Anthem and “Raise Me Up”. This was followed by the invocation, POW/MIA remembrance, and remarks by Secretary Santiago and Air Force Veteran Liseth Velez, who was the Keynote Speaker. A reenactor then told the life story of Deborah Sampson.
Canton Students Perform Concert at State House
The Canton High School and Galvin Middle School performed at the State House on Monday. Rep. Galvin and Sen. Feeney met with the musicians and took a photo. The trip was organized by Elizabeth Pabon- Teacher, Orchestra and General Music and Brian Thomas- Orchestra Director. They were hosted by Rep. Galvin. After the concert, the students took a tour of the State House.
Canton Hockey State Champions Visit State House
The state champs visited the State House on Wednesday, May 17th. They took a tour of the building, had a Q & A session with Rep. Galvin and Sen. Feeney in the House Chamber, and met with the Governor and Lt. Governor in the Governor’s official office. They had a lunch sponsored by Rep. Galvin and every team member received an official citation from Rep. Galvin and Sen. Feeney.
We are now five months into the new, two-year legislative session. I filed 35 bills at the start of the legislative session that deal with housing, opioid addiction, healthcare, public safety, and local issues. These bills were recently assigned to a committee and are awaiting a public hearing, which is their first step in the legislative process.
The Legislature recently congratulated Canton’s VSO, Arafat Knight, for his dedication to Canton’s veterans. The Legislature also recognized the Titus family for their contributions to the Town of Canton with a resolution. I am pleased that these deserving Cantonites were acknowledged for the positive impact they’ve had on our community.
The House of Representatives debated and approved a $56 Billion state budget during the last week of April. The budget increases funding for municipalities, education, and transportation. It makes universal free school meals permanent, creates a program for free community college for qualifying residents, and adds funding for rental assistance programs. Canton will receive $2.5 million in unrestricted government aid and Canton schools will receive $8.6 million. Under the House’s proposal for the FY24 state budget, the Paul Revere Heritage site will receive $50,000, the Blue Hills Weather Observatory will receive $100,000, the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital will receive $200,000 for summer programming, the Trailside Museum will receive $100,000, and the Holbrook Regional Emergency Communications Center will receive $100,000. The budget now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The Massachusetts House also approved a tax cut package in April that will help working families across the state. This bill doubles the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit from $1,200 to $2,400, increases the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000, and increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 30 percent to 40 percent of the federal credit.
The bill combines the Child Care Expenses Credit with the Dependent Member of Household Credit to create one refundable $600 credit per dependent, while eliminating the current cap. This will be phased in over three years, and will be fully implemented in FY27: taxpayers could claim $310 per dependent in FY24, $455 per dependent in FY25, $600 per dependent in FY26, and $614 per dependent in FY27. This change will cost $165 million in the first year of implementation and $487 million when fully implemented in year three. It is expected to impact over 700,000 Massachusetts families.
The tax bill also alters the state’s estate tax. Massachusetts is currently a national outlier on the estate tax, as the Commonwealth is one of only 12 states that impose this tax and has the lowest estate tax exemption threshold in the country, along with Oregon. The bill increases the estate tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million, and eliminates the “cliff” effect, taxing the value of the estate that exceeds $2 million, and not the entire estate as the law currently requires.
Finally, I am pleased to share that my colleagues reappointed me to the position of Rules Chair, which is responsible for a variety of legislation.
As a reminder, I am always accessible. Please email me at William.Galvin@mahouse.gov or call my office at 617-722-2692 with any questions, concerns, or if need of assistance.