LEGISLATIVE SUCCESSES FOR THE
2021 - 2022 SESSION
We spent the majority of 2021 grappling with the COVID pandemic, but we also addressed pressing non-pandemic related concerns facing Massachusetts residents. Below is a list of bills approved by the Legislature and signed into law during the 2021 - 2022 session.
VOTES Act- This comprehensive voting reform legislation permanently codifies mail-in and expands early voting, increases ballot access for voters with disabilities and service members overseas, and takes steps to modernize the Commonwealth’s election administration process. I was pleased to co-sponsor this bill.
COVID-19 Legislation- Guaranteeing paid sick leave for all employees for COVID related reasons, elimination of taxes on unemployment insurance (UI) for low-income residents, freezing the UI rate for employers, extending to-go beverage regulation and outdoor dining through Spring 2022, and allowing local officials to continue to hold public meetings online.
Nero's Law- Allows a police dog (a dog owned by a police department or police agency of the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof, that is used by the department or agency for official duties) injured in the line of duty to be transported in an ambulance if there is not competing need for human transport. I was pleased to co-sponsor this bill.
Hen and Pig Humane Standards- Prohibits farm owners in MA from confining any animal cruelly, and bans the sale of shell eggs. pork, and veal from animals held in violation of those standards, including products manufactured in other states.
Genocide Education- There has been a disturbing trend in the number of students who are unaware of various genocides throughout history. This law aims to correct this concerning pattern. I was pleased to co-sponsor and vote for this bill.
Women's History Trail- Requires the secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism to develop and implement a Women’s Rights History Trail program that designates properties and sites as historically and thematically associated with the struggle for women’s rights and suffrage.
Student Nutrition Legislation- Expanded access to free school meals. I was pleased to co-sponsor and vote for this bill.
A new law requires a public notice to be issued when sewage is released into local waterways.
Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Natural Hairstyles- Defines natural hairstyle in statute, prohibits discrimination in schools, employment, housing, and business, and bans school policies that restrict natural and protective hairstyles. I was pleased to co-sponsor this bill.
The Film Tax Credit was extended to encourage studios to film in Massachusetts. I will pleased to co-sponsor this bill.
Redistricting was completed, creating 33 minority-majority districts in the House (up from 20). The 6th Norfolk District did not change.
An Act relative to work & family mobility- Under this legislation, the RMV will not inquire about immigration status when processing an application for a Massachusetts driver’s license or registration, solely basing the issuance of driver’s licenses to residents who provide required documents to prove their identity, pass the corresponding driver tests, and meet all other eligibility criteria.
Funding for a modern Soldiers Home in Holyoke was approved by the Legislature and governor.
Climate legislation requiring the state to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2030, 75% by 2040, and 85% by 2050 was signed into law.
LEGISLATION THAT BECAME LAW DURING THE 2019 - 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Conversion Therapy Ban- prohibits the use of aversion therapy on minors in an attempt to change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This type of therapy includes shame, self-loathing, hypnotism, and punishing aversive condition techniques that range from nausea to electric shocks.
Lift the Cap on Kids- TAFDC is a temporary assistance program designed to help families survive difficult financial situations. The so-called “family cap” prevented families who are receiving TAFDC benefits from seeking additional assistance if they have any additional children.
Student Opportunity Act- Landmark legislation that updates the funding formula for Massachusetts schools in an effort to close the opportunity gap and pledges $1.5 billion in new funding for public education.
Title X- The House approved $8 million for women’s reproductive health organizations in Massachusetts over the next two years to offset the loss of federal funding through the Trump Administration’s “gag rule” changes to the Title X program.
Nicky's Law- Requires the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DCCP) to maintain a registry of care providers who have a history of intentionally causing harm to individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability in an effort to protect disabled individuals.
Breakfast After the Bell- Guarantees a healthy breakfast at school for all low-income students.
Healthcare/Telehealth Bill- Requires telehealth visits be covered by insurance at the same rate as in-person visits; requires insurance companies and hospitals to tell patients in advance if something is "out-of-network"; eliminates MassHealth requirement that a referral is required for urgent care visits; insurance companies must cover COVID-19 testing and treatment without a co-pay; insurance companies must cover treatment for children diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS; creates a rare disease advisory panel; provision directing insurance companies to reimburse cancer patients who need to travel for Cancer clinical trials.
An Act Regulating Flavored Tobacco products- Bans the sale of flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts and subjects vaping products to the same tax rate as tobacco products.
Juneteenth- Became an official state holiday.
Flame Retardant Ban- Banned 11 flame retardants known to cause cancer in children and firefighters.
Commission to redesign the state seal- Establishes a commission to make recommendations for a new state seal.
Campus Assault Bill- Requires colleges and universities to survey students regarding sexual misconduct on campus, schools must provide assistance to students who are assaulted, and schools must post sexual misconduct policies on their website.
An Act to mitigate West Nile Virus and EEE- Will help the state combat the spread of mosquito borne illnesses West Nile Virus and EEE.
Established a Special Commission for Healthcare- The commission will look at health inequities and outcomes for pregnant women of color and will provide recommendations to improve quality of care, report on barriers to equitable maternal care, and best practices for remedying inequity.
$1 Billion COVID-19 Bill- $1 Billion COVID relief bill that is eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Government. The legislation provides $350 million for personal protective equipment, $85 million for field hospitals and shelters, $44 million for community tracing, $81.6 million for child care needs during the pandemic, and $20 million to address racial disparities in COVID care. Funding will also be used to fight food insecurity, aid human service workers, and provide emergency housing.
IT Bond Bill- $1.7 billion in spending for the improvement of information technology equipment and related projects in Massachusetts. The IT financing package includes $40 million for education grants to public schools to enhance remote learning, $41 million for food infrastructure and security, and $5 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Representative Galvin secured $876,000 for projects in Avon, Canton, and Stoughton.
Transportation Bond Bill- Transportation Bond package for improvements to roads, bridges, the MBTA, and Regional Transit Authorities. Representative Galvin secured $322 million for projects in Avon, Canton, and Stoughton.
Economic Development Bill- $626 Million bill to spur the economy and help residents and businesses through the pandemic. Included funding for job training and state run PPP program. Also included provisions to encourage the construction of more affordable housing and economic growth after the pandemic.
Chapter 90 funding for municipally owned roads and bridges- Avon will receive $184,974, Canton will receive $766,981, and Stoughton will receive $773,954 in 2020 for improvements.
Relief for Restaurants- Legislation eases outdoor dining restrictions, expands alcohol delivery options to include mixed drinks, waives interest on late meals tax payments, and caps the amount that can be charged by food delivery services.
Expanded Voting Options- Allowed residents to vote by mail and expanded in-person voting for 2020 municipal and state elections.
LEGISLATION THAT BECAME LAW DURING THE 2017 - 2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Minimum Wage Increase- Minimum wage will increase to an hourly rate of $15.00 and the tipped wage to $6.75 per hour over the next five years. This bill also creates a permanent sales tax holiday for a weekend in August.
Automatic Voter Registration- This law directs the Secretary of State to work with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and MassHealth to automatically enroll eligible individuals to the Commonwealth’s voter rolls.
Paid Family and Medical Leave- Individuals will receive up to 12 weeks of family leave to look after a critically ill family member, a newborn child, or a child that was recently adopted or fostered. 20 weeks of medical leave will be available for individuals recovering from a serious health condition. Family members of service members will be eligible for 26 weeks of time to attend to the needs of the family that arise from the deployment of a family member.
Criminal Justice Reform-
District Attorneys will be required to create pre-arraignment diversion programs for individuals with addiction or mental health issues and for military veterans.
This legislation eliminates mandatory and statutory minimum sentences for many low-level, non-violent drug offenses in an attempt to create a more balanced and modern approach to sentencing. While some statutory minimums have been repealed, other aspects of the law, including the trafficking of opioids like Carfentanil and Fentanyl, have been toughened. The legislation also strengthens penalties for repeat offenders convicted of operating under the influence (OUI).
Judges will now be required to take an individual’s financial resources into account when determining bail. It also raises the threshold for larceny to qualify as a felony from $250 to $1,200.
Creates a committee to study the impacts that solitary confinement has on inmates, violence, recidivism, and costs. New policies include a prohibition on placing pregnant women in solitary confinement, bans the use of solitary as a way to separate LGBTQ individuals from the general prison population, and implements regular mental health screenings for prisoners spending long periods in restrictive housing.
It expands diversion programs to the Juvenile Court and removes the existing age restriction on diversion in the District Court.
Courts follow a process to expunge records for certain juveniles, young adults (18-21), and individuals convicted of an offense that is no longer a crime.
Creates a Childhood Trauma Task Force to study and recommend gender responsive and trauma-informed approaches to treatment of youths in the juvenile justice system.
Environmental Bond Bill- Dedicates $2.4 billion to improve climate change resiliency and adaptation by enhancing environmental and natural resource protection and investing in parks and recreational assets. The legislation ensures that Massachusetts can continue to plan for global warming and a changing climate, including along vulnerable coastlines. Representative Galvin secured a $1,000,000 to fund repairs of the Reservoir Pond Dam, which is essential in defending downtown Canton from flooding.
"Red Flag"/Extreme Risk Protection Order- Allows relatives, household members, and licensing authorities to petition the court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). These orders will be used when individuals are showing signs that they may wish to harm themselves or others. A court issued ERPO will require the individual to surrender all firearms and ammunition. The order will be valid for up to one year. Additionally, the individual will be directed to counseling for mental health, substance abuse, and/or crisis intervention. The bill includes a range of due process protections for licensees, including a requirement for the court to hold a hearing within ten days of a petition being filed. Respondents will be able to use all existing statutory law remedies to demonstrate that they are not at risk, including legal counsel and the appeal process.
Access- This law ensures women in Massachusetts continue to have access to contraception without a copay. This law is in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to weaken critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to women’s health and preventive care. The law requires insurers to cover contraceptives and contraceptive services, including education, counseling, and follow-up treatment, without any out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
An Act Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women- Repealed old laws that limited access to reproductive healthcare, including contraceptives.
Pregnant Workers Rights- Creates protections for pregnant women in the workplace. The bill requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees, including frequent bathroom breaks, seating, job modification, or temporary transfer to a less strenuous role. It also requires employers to provide time off for workers to recover after childbirth, with or without pay.
Prohibition on Prisoners Working Out-of-State- This law prohibits sheriffs from sending prisoners out of state to work.
Bumpstock Ban- The amendment adopted by the House bans the possession, ownership, or sale of any device that attaches to a gun which is designed to increase the rate of fire. The legislation carries a minimum three year prison sentence, up to twenty years, for violating the ban.
Civic Education- Creates a civic education requirement in schools
English Language Learners- The English language education bill updates the existing statute by implementing research-based best practices for programs serving English learners (EL). Under this legislation, school districts can maintain current programming or can implement an alternative instructional program that meets federal and state standards, giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the diverse needs of their students. This bill also supports parental involvement by expanding the role of Parental Advisory Councils and allowing parents the flexibility to choose programs that best meet their child’s needs. Recognizing bilingualism and biliteracy as valuable strengths for students in a 21st century world, this legislation establishes a state Seal of Biliteracy.
Data Breach/Equifax Legislation- This law provides added protections and resources for consumers in the event of a data security breach that impacts a credit agency or other business.
Alzheimer’s Legislation- The Massachusetts House unanimously approved legislation aimed at helping patients and their families cope with some of the challenges of living with Alzheimer’s. The bill requires the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to create an integrated state plan, improves continuing education curriculum content for medical professionals, mandates that hospitals in Massachusetts implement an operational plan for the recognition and management of patients, and establishes training standards for elder protective services and social workers.
Expand Affordable Housing Options- $1.7 billion housing bond bill to support low and moderate income housing throughout the Commonwealth.
Creation of the Commonwealth Technical Rescue Regions and Coordinating Council- Technical rescues are defined as any rescue operation which involves exceedingly high risk situations where an individual has become trapped and requires specials tools, techniques and training to accomplish the rescue while minimizing risk. This legislation divides the Commonwealth into five technical rescue regions. Each designated region will establish a cooperative regional technical rescue team to develop emergency technical rescue response training, coordinate equipment preparation and conduct regulatory meetings.
Economic Development Bond Bill- Provides bond authorization for public infrastructure projects including street and sewer improvements, multi-family housing and mixed-use development, investments to increase employment opportunities, boost manufacturing innovation, support technology development, and expand career technical training programs. Representative Galvin secured funding authorization worth $2,000,000 for the Paul Revere Heritage Site Project and the Washington Street Corridor for Canton and an additional $2,000,000 for the redevelopment of Stoughton Center. He also secured $1,000,000 for the redevelopment of the Avon Industrial Park.