PRESS RELEASES

MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE PASSES FY23 BUDGET

July 18, 2021

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin joined members of the Massachusetts Legislature recently unanimously passed a $52.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). This budget upholds fiscal responsibility and makes targeted investments to strengthen the state’s economic foundation, protect the most vulnerable residents and support the everyday needs of communities and families in the Commonwealth.


“I am proud that we as a Legislature have enacted a fiscally prudent budget which includes funding for valuable programs that serve the people of the Sixth Norfolk District and the entire Commonwealth,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).  “This budget reflects investments in state services and programs that will enhance the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents. In addition to local earmarks, I am pleased that this budget places targeted investments in education, children and families, health care, and services for vulnerable populations, like the elderly and disabled, among others.”


Local highlights in the FY23 budget which Representative Galvin (and Senator Timilty) were able to secure include:


  • $50,000 for the Paul Revere Heritage Park

  • 120 beds and $150,000 for the Pappas Hospital for Children

  • $75,000 for the Blue Hills Weather Observatory

  • $20,000 for a Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse

  • $20,000 for a Stoughton Substance Abuse program

  • $20,000 for the Avon Coalition for Every Student

  • $20,000 for Stoughton Fire Department Inservice training

  • $1,000,000 for the Blue Hills Trailside Museum

  • $75,000 for the Holbrook Regional Emergency Communications Center


Taking into consideration historic tax revenue performance in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), the final FY23 conference report increases revenue projections by $2.66 billion over the December consensus for a projection of $39.575 billion. The FY23 budget transfers funds into the Stabilization Fund, projecting an estimated historic balance of approximately $7.35 billion for this crucial ‘rainy day’ fund at the end of the fiscal year.


Notably, the Legislature provides significant funds in the FY23 budget to invest in the Commonwealth’s long-term future obligations. Prioritizing funding for education, this budget includes $175 million in a newly created High-Quality Early Education and Care Affordability Trust Fund to be utilized in the coming years to support the implementation of the recommendations made by the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission. Additionally, a supplemental payment of $150 million is included to the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) Investment fund, bringing its balance up to $500 million, ensuring resources will be utilized in the future to support equitable funding for our most vulnerable students.


The budget strongly reflects the Legislature’s commitment to support cities and towns and provides a significant amount of local and regional aid to ensure communities can provide essential services to the public while rebuilding from a once-in-a-generation pandemic. This includes $1.231 billion in funding for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), an increase of $63 million over FY22, and $45 million in payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land, an increase of $10 million over FY22, providing supplemental local aid payments to cities and towns working to improve access to essential services and programs.


The FY23 budget includes $187 million to fund the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) as well as $226.2 million for a safety and workforce reserve to address ongoing safety concerns identified by the Federal Transit Administration’s Safety Management Inspection.


As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s economic foundation, the FY23 budget expands access to educational opportunity and strongly supports students, families, educators, and institutions. Delivering on the Legislature’s promise to fully fund and implement the SOA by FY27, this budget invests $6 billion in Chapter 70 funding, an increase of $495 million over FY22, and doubles minimum Chapter 70 aid from $30 to $60 per pupil. This historic level of investment ensures the state remains on schedule to fully implement the law, provides school districts with resources to provide high quality educational opportunities, and addresses rising costs and administrative challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FY23 budget also includes $110 million for a year-long extension of universal school meals, providing immediate relief to working families by saving them up to $1,200 every year from reduced grocery expenditures, according to The Feed Kids Coalition.


The budget also reflects a strong to commitment to early education and care, investing $1.18 billion into this sector, including $365 million in new resources to begin implementation of recommendations made by the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission. These investments will help to stabilize providers, support the early educator workforce with rate increases and higher education opportunities, and provide access to affordable care for children and families.


The budget invests in higher education, allocating $670 million for the University of Massachusetts system, $352 million for community colleges, and $328 million for state universities. The budget also includes $175 million in scholarship funding and funds the community colleges SUCCESS Fund at $14 million and the STEM Starter Academy at $4.75 million. The budget also expands access to inclusive education opportunities for young adults with disabilities by removing existing barriers, codifies the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) grant program and dedicates $4 million in flexible resources for the public higher education system to support inclusive learning options for this diverse student population.


Other education investments include:


  • $441 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75 per cent reimbursement rate

  • $244 million for reimbursing school districts at 75 per cent for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools

  • $82.2 million for regional school transportation

  • $23 million for homeless student transportation

  • $16.5 million for grants to the Head Start program to maintain access to early education services for low-income families 

  • $15 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access to pre-kindergarten and preschool opportunities in underserved areas 

  • $6 million for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Grants to help K-12 schools bolster SEL supports for students, including $1 million for a new pilot program to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students

  • $1.5 million for the Genocide Education Trust Fund, fulfilling our commitment to fund efforts to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide and support implementation efforts in accordance with Chapter 98 of the Acts of 2021, An Act Concerning Genocide Education, passed by the Legislature in 2021 


Recognizing that health care makes up more than 40 percent of our annual state budget, the Legislature’s FY23 budget sustains support for the state’s safety net by funding MassHealth at a total of $19.48 billion, ensuring over 2.1 million people with continued access to comprehensive health care services. The budget prepares for the transition of individuals from MassHealth to the Health Connector when the federal public health emergency ends by providing $50 million for a Connector Care Pilot Program, which utilizes savings from the American Rescue Plan to fund subsidized health insurance plans for members that are between 300%-500% of the federal poverty level (FPL) for two years. It also invests $73 million to expand eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program to 225% FPL.


The FY23 budget invests in the human services workforce who provide services to the state’s most vulnerable residents, including $230 million for Chapter 257 rates for health and human service workers, $40 million to continue higher rate add-ons and ensure a smaller wage cliff between FY22 and FY23 for home health aides and homemakers, and $1 million for the Nursing and Allied Health Workforce Development program. Additional investments include funding for programming such as the Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams, the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative Expansion, nine Elder Supportive Housing Sites, and the SHINE Program.


Funding a range of services to help those struggling and in need, the FY23 budget invests $218.2 for substance use disorder and intervention services provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services and more importantly, addresses the mental health crisis in Massachusetts by creating the Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Intervention Trust Fund, which will fund crisis supports and a new behavioral health crisis hotline.


It also invests $20 million to recapitalize the Behavioral Health, Access, Outreach and Support Trust Fund to support targeted behavioral health initiatives, $15 million for emergency department diversion initiatives for children, adolescents, and adults and $8.2 million to support student behavioral health services at the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges.


Sending a strong and unequivocal message that reproductive and gender affirming health care will be protected in Massachusetts in the face of growing legal uncertainty across the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the FY23 budget invests $2 million in grants for improvements to reproductive health access, infrastructure, and safety.


Finally, recognizing that stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and death in the United States and Massachusetts, the FY23 budget includes provisions establishing a comprehensive system of stroke response and care to ensure patients receive the appropriate urgent care quickly. With this system of care in place, a person experiencing a stroke will be transported to the nearest trauma center, improving long-term health outcomes and rates of survival.


Other health care and public health investments include:


  • $113.1 million for children’s mental health services 

  • $28.3 million for Family Resource Centers to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families 

  • $75.3 million for sexual assault and domestic violence prevention services

  • $48.8 million for early intervention services, to ensure increased supports for families with infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities

  • $15 million for grants to support local and regional boards of health, continuing our efforts to build upon the successful State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program 


Building on the foundation of last year’s efforts to tackle deep poverty, the FY23 budget supports working families struggling with the economic toll associated with rising costs and includes a record investment in the annual child’s clothing allowance, providing $400 per child for eligible families to buy clothes for the upcoming school year. The budget also includes a 10 percent increase to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefit levels compared to June 2022 to ensure the economic supports necessary to provide stability to families across the state.


Other children and family investments include:


  • $30.6 million for Emergency Food Assistance to ensure that citizens in need can navigate the historic levels of food insecurity caused by COVID-19

  • $28.5 million for the YouthWorks jobs program to fund over 6,000 summer and year-round jobs for youth in low-wage-earning and fixed-income families

  • $20 million in Healthy Incentives Programs to maintain access to healthy food options for households in need 

  • $7.5 million for grants to community foundations to support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic

  • $3.5 million for the Massachusetts Center on Child Wellbeing & Trauma 

  • $4.1 million for Children Advocacy Centers to improve the resources available to children who have been neglected or sexually abused 


Also included in the budget is a provision which bans child marriage in Massachusetts by setting the minimum age for marriage at 18.  Up until passage of this ban, in statute, anyone under the age of 18 was allowed to get married with parental consent.  Representative Galvin had been an original co-sponsor of the underlying legislation to end the practice.


The FY23 budget provides resources to help with housing stability to keep individuals and families in their homes, including $219.4 million for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters, more than $200 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), $175 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and $92 million for assistance to local housing authorities. The budget also upholds the emergency-level maximum amount of rental assistance that a household can receive at $10,000 and requires the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to study and report on the execution of no-fault evictions between 2019 and 2022.


The budget funds the Department of Developmental Services at $2.44 billion, aimed to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. It includes $278.5 million for Community Day and Work Programs, $90.6 million for respite services, $42.3 million in autism supports and services, $33.9 million in transportation services, $13.9 million for the autism division, and $1.8 million for supportive technology for individuals.



For the first time ever, the FY23 budget removes barriers to communication services for incarcerated persons and their loved ones, requiring the Department of Correction (DOC) and sheriffs to provide phone calls free of charge to those receiving and initiating phone calls and other services such as video or electronic communications. It also establishes a new requirement that commissary items in correctional facilities shall not be sold at more than 3 per cent over the purchase cost. Both changes ensure that correctional facilities do not unjustly profit off the basic needs of incarcerated persons. The budget also eliminates probation and parole fees, reducing the burden on individuals during their re-entry process. Currently, individuals pay $50 per month for administrative supervised probation fees, $65 per month for probation supervision fees, and $80 per month in parole fees.


To meet the needs of our Commonwealth’s post-pandemic recovery, the FY23 budget invests more than $100 million to bolster job training programs, help connect unemployed and under-employed people with higher paying jobs and support career services that help students gain skills to apply for future jobs. The budget includes $20 million for Career Technical Institutes to increase the skilled worker population’s access to career technical training opportunities, a $17 million transfer to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund, and $15 million for one-stop career centers to support economic recovery. The budget also includes a $1 million investment in Learn to Earn and $1 million for the 1199 SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund.


Other investments in economic and workforce development include:


  • $60 million for Adult Basic Education

  • $20 million for the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program

  • $20 million for a loan forgiveness program within the Department of Mental Health to support their workforce

  • $15 million to support teachers of color, including $7.5 million for Tomorrow’s Teachers program to provide scholarships to people committed to teaching in public schools and $7.5 million for loan repayment for teachers of color

  • $10 million for loan repayment and bonuses for the homeless shelter workforce that continue to provide critical services to the most vulnerable

  • $4.8 million for the Innovation Pathways program to continue to connect students to trainings and post-secondary opportunities in the industry sector with a focus on STEM fields

  • $2.5 million for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, including $1.5 million to continue partnerships with community colleges and state universities to provide cybersecurity workforce training to students and cybersecurity services to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses


The budget also continues the Legislature’s focus on environmental and climate protection by investing $375.2 million for environmental services, which include funding increases for state parks, environmental protection, and fisheries and wildlife. Additional measures include promoting electric vehicles and funding for environmental justice and climate adaptation and preparedness.


The FY23 budget also establishes a veteran equality review board to ensure that veterans dishonorably discharged under ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ receive state-based veterans’ benefits.


Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.

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MA HOUSE PASSES $4.2 BILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL

July 15, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently unanimously passed a sweeping economic development package that utilizes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) surplus funds, and bonds to make significant investments across several vital sectors of the economy, and to give back to low and middle-income residents in Massachusetts by providing one-time rebates and significant tax relief beginning in 2023.  Funded at $4.2 billion, the legislation addresses disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic through one-time investments in health and human services, the environment and climate mitigation, economic development, housing, and food insecurity.


“In this time of economic uncertainty, I am proud that the House has not only made thoughtful investments across various sectors to promote and stimulate economic growth, but that we have also invested in the people of our Commonwealth by providing needed financial relief through rebates and tax cuts.  This means that between the rebate program the House adopted in this legislation, along with the Essential Premium Pay Program passed earlier this session, nearly three million residents across Massachusetts will have received direct payments totaling nearly $1 billion,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).  “I am also happy to report back to the Sixth Norfolk District that the bill passed by the House includes targeted investments for projects and programs in the communities of Canton, Stoughton and Avon, which will help to spur further economic development in our corner of the Commonwealth.”


Taxpayer Energy & Economic Relief Fund

Following $500 million worth of premium pay bonuses for low-income workers that were issued in March and June of 2022 under the Legislature’s Essential Employee Premium Pay Program, the economic development bill passed today by the House includes one-time rebates of $250 for a taxpayer who files an individual return, and $500 for married taxpayers who file joint returns that will be issued before September 30, 2022. These rebates are expected to be issued to about two million Massachusetts residents who reported earning between $38,000 and $100,000 for individual filers, and between $38,000 and $150,000 for joint filers in 2021. The one-time rebates will not be subject to state’s personal income tax.

Permanent tax changes

The bill passed today makes significant changes to the Massachusetts tax code to provide structural relief to millions of residents across all income levels. These include:

  • Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Credit from $180 per child to $310 per child, as well as eliminating the current cap of $360 for two or more children. This is expected to impact over 700,000 families.

  • Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 30 percent to 40 percent of the federal credit. This is expected to impact about 396,000 taxpayers with incomes under $57,000.

  • Increasing the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit from $750 to $1,755. Currently, the Department of Revenue caps this credit at $1,170 due to cost-of-living adjustments over the $750 set in statute. Increasing it to $1,755 in statute is expected to impact over 100,000 taxpayers who own or rent residential property in Massachusetts as their principal residence.

  • Increasing the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000. This is expected to impact about 881,000 taxpayers.

  • Increasing the estate tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million and eliminating the “cliff” effect which would tax just the value of the estate that exceeds $2 million, not the entire estate. This is expected to impact about 2,500 taxpayers.

Online Lottery

In an effort to raise revenue for early education and care, Representatives adopted an amendment that would allow the Massachusetts Lottery to sell some of its products online. The new revenue collected from online sales will go to prizes for winners, for the administration and operations of the lottery, and to fund an Early Education and Care Fund. Revenue for the new Early Education and Care Fund would be used to provide long-term stability and develop a sustainable system for high-quality and affordable care for families. This will include significant funding for subsidy reimbursement rates, workforce compensation rate increases, and support for state-wide early education and care initiatives, among others. The amendment requires the Massachusetts Lottery to use age verification measures to ensure that any users are over the age of 18.

“House leadership’s efforts to create a new sustainable funding source for Early Education through a new online state lottery revenue is not surprising, but rather is indicative of the House’s continued long-term leadership and commitment to the early education field and the children & families we serve,” said William J. Eddy, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care.

One-time targeted investments

Highlights include:


Sixth Norfolk District Specific Items


  • $300,000 for the food banks of Avon, Canton and Stoughton

  • $300,000 for the Blue Hills Weather Observatory and Science Center

  • $500,000 for the museum at the Revere Heritage Site in Canton

  • $150,000 for improvements to the Avon Industrial Park


Health and Human Services

  • $350 million for financially strained hospitals

  • $165 million for nursing facilities workforce needs

  • $100 million for supplemental rates for human services providers

  • $80 million for community health centers

  • $30 million to support Rest Homes across the Commonwealth

  • $25 million to address food insecurity across the Commonwealth

  • $15 million for grants to reproductive rights providers for security, workforce, and educational needs

  • $15 million for grants to non-profits and community-based organizations to address gun violence and gun violence related trauma


Environment

  • $175 million for state parks and recreational facilities upgrades, with $25 million for communities of color  

  • $125 million for environmental justice communities 

  • $100 million for marine port development

  • $100 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund


Economic Development

  • $300 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund

  • $125 million for small businesses, with $75 million for minority-owned businesses  

  • $50 million for broadband investments in underserved communities

  • $75 million in grants to hotels across the Commonwealth who saw financial loses during the pandemic


Housing

  • $100 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund

  • $75 million for minority-owned housing development


Bonding


The House bill also includes $1.26 billion in bond allocations to greater support the economic growth and stability of the Commonwealth.


Sixth Norfolk District highlights include:

  • $5 million for the redevelopment of Stoughton Center

  • $5 million for the redevelopment of the recently acquired former St. Gerard Church property on in Canton

  • $4 million for sewer work in the Avon Industrial Park

  • $500,000 for the Canton Housing Authority in Canton for the revitalization and improvements to the authority’s public housing stock


Overall highlights include:

  • $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Competitive grant program to support municipalities and other public entities support and accelerate housing production

  • $200 million for the Technology Matching Grants program that supports various organizations to help compete for federal innovation grants

  • $95 million for ADA compliance projects

  • $73 million for the Housing Stabilization and Investment fund


The bill passed now goes to the Senate for their consideration.


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MA HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES

July 8, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently unanimously passed comprehensive legislation to support veterans and military families of the Commonwealth, including providing assistance to military families who relocate to the Commonwealth with expedited licensure and school enrollment, creating education awareness programs and establishing the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity. 


“The Commonwealth has long been a national leader for providing quality services to our veterans, and the SPEED Act, which I was proud to vote for in the House yesterday, continues that tradition,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).  “This bill addresses some of the most immediate needs in the veteran community and makes necessary updates to service member quality-of-life issues and acknowledgements of our military branches and individual service.”


Highlights of the legislation include:


  • Military spouse licensure portability: requires the Division of Occupational Licensure, the Department of Public Health, and Massachusetts Boards of Registration to accept a military spouse’s application for licensure or notify them of what criteria they were not able to meet within 30 days of the application.

  • Expedited military spouse teacher licenses: establishes a military spouse certificate to be issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner to military spouse teachers that meet certain requirements.

  • School enrollment for military children: allows military families to register and enroll in a school district when a service member first receives their relocation order, waiving the proof of residency requirement at the time of registration. This provision also allows military children who are transferring mid-semester to enroll in and attend one of the Commonwealth’s virtual schools.

  • Purple Star campus designation: establishes the Purple Star Campus Program, to be administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, to designate schools that demonstrate a commitment to students and families of service members.

  • In-state tuition continuity for military-connected college students: ensures that a member of the military stationed in the Commonwealth, their spouse, or their children are deemed an in-state resident after their acceptance at one of the state’s higher education institutions.

  • Civilian licensure and certification information: directs the Commissioner of Veterans’ Services to make information on civilian licensure and certification opportunities available to service members and veterans, and provide information on military education and skills to relevant agencies. 

  • Open Burn Pit Registry: Directs the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH), in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Adjutant General of the National Guard, to develop educational materials and an informational pamphlet on the health impacts of open burn pits during overseas deployment and information on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry to be distributed to health care providers, veterans’ service offices and organizations, and service members and veterans.

  • Massachusetts National Guard family education program: establishes a Massachusetts National Guard Family Education Program to allow National Guard members to transfer their unused education benefits under the National Guard Education Assistance Program to their dependents.

  • Slot machines at veterans’ organizations: allows the Gaming Commission to issue limited slot machine licenses to veterans’ organizations.

  • Founding anniversaries of U.S. Armed Forces: requires the Governor to set aside the founding date anniversaries of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Massachusetts National Guard.

  • Medal of Fidelity: establishes the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity to be presented to the next of kin of a service member or veteran who died as a result of service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder, a service-connected condition resulting from a traumatic brain injury, or a service-connected disease, condition or injury related to exposure to harmful toxin, herbicides, agents or materials.

  • Deborah Sampson Memorial Commission: Establishes a commission to determine a location and create a memorial for Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts resident who disguised herself as a man in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

  • Funeral and burial benefits: requires funeral directors and their staffs to provide information on burial and funeral benefits for veterans.


“An Act relative to military spouse-licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents” (H.4978) passed the House of Representatives after a similar version of this legislation passed in the Massachusetts State Senate. The legislation moves back to the Senate for further consideration.


Earlier this year, the House passed legislation establishing additional protections for veterans and mandating increased accountability for management of veterans’ homes. “An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the Commonwealth veterans’ homes” is currently in conference committee negotiations.  In May 2021, the House approved a $600 million bond authorization — with $400 million for the construction of an updated Holyoke Veterans' Home facility and $200 million to increase geographic equity and accessibility for veterans not primarily served by the veterans’ Homes in Chelsea or Holyoke.


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MA HOUSE PASSES GALVIN BILL CALLING FOR MBTA TO ALLOW IN-PERSON PAYMENT FOR DAILY PARKING AT LOCAL COMMUTER RAIL STATIONS  

July 1, 2022

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed legislation sponsored by Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) to require the MBTA to create and administer an 18-month pilot program allowing for the in-person payment of daily parking fees without the use of a mobile telephone at the parking lots owned and operated by the authority at the Canton Junction, Canton Center and Stoughton Commuter Rail Stations. 


“Many constituents, including senior citizens who do not have a mobile phone, have expressed to me frustration that the only ways a commuter can pay for daily parking at our local commuter rail stations is via mobile phone or by mail.  Although paying via an app on a phone is a great use of modern technology, it should not be the only option for payment, as not everyone has a smartphone or the capability to utilize the app.  In addition, when a commuter pays by mail via check, the MBTA adds .50, so the authority is essentially penalizing the most vulnerable populations without offering a more traditional means of payment,” said Representative Galvin.  “I listened to the constituents of the 6th Norfolk District, and felt legislation was needed to correct this issue to compel the MBTA to place automated machines so commuters have the option to pay in-person with cash or credit card.  I thank my colleagues in the House for advancing this bill, and I am proud that it has passed the House.”


Rep. Galvin’s proposal:


  • Requires the MBTA install and maintain 2 automated payment machines at the Canton Junction, Canton Center, and Stoughton Commuter Rail Stations that allow customers to make in-person payment for daily parking fees by cash or credit card without the use of a mobile telephone or any other portable electronic device for at least 18 months;

  • Requires the MBTA file a report on the efficacy of the pilot program with the Clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation between 12 and 18 months after initiation; and

  • Requires that the report include an estimate of the percentage of parking fees collected at each location under the pilot program and make recommendations, if any, for the need to install and maintain similar automated payment machines at other parking lots owned and operated by the authority. 


The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

MA HOUSE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS LEGISLATION

June 30, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed comprehensive legislation to further protect reproductive health care and gender-affirming services in the Commonwealth. Although abortion remains legal in Massachusetts due to the Legislature’s efforts in 2020 to codify and expand access, the Massachusetts House today took additional efforts to further protect these rights and establish additional safeguards following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The bill includes confidentiality measures for providers, mandates insurance coverage for abortion services with no cost sharing, expands access to emergency contraception, and provides legal protections to providers, out-of-state patients, and insurers.


“In 2020, I voted in support of the ROE Act, which codified a woman’s right to abortion care in Massachusetts.  That 2020 legislation was done to protect a woman’s right to choose in Massachusetts in the event that the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and turned the issue back to the states.  This bill builds upon 2020’s ROE Act and is in response to the recent decision by the Supreme Court,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).  “The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has widespread implications for reproductive rights across our nation, and the impact of this decision has reverberated even here in our Commonwealth.  Under the leadership of Speaker Mariano, the Massachusetts House of Representatives has acted quickly and with urgency to step up to meet this historic moment to protect the reproductive rights of women.  To that end, I was proud to vote in support of this comprehensive reproductive rights legislation passed by the House to codify into our laws policies that will protect providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care, as well as their patients, from out-of-state legal action.”


“An Act expanding protections for reproductive rights:”

  • Allows providers to apply to the Secretary of State to shield the health care professional’s address from public disclosure

  • Designates reproductive health care and gender-affirming services as legally protected health care activity

  • Reaffirms that access to reproductive health care and gender-affirming services are a right secured by the constitution or laws of the Commonwealth

  • Requires insurance coverage for abortion and abortion-related care without being subject to deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or other cost-sharing requirements

  • Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue a statewide standing order to authorize licensed pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception

  • Protects providers and out-of-state patients in Massachusetts by:

    • Prohibiting the Boards of Registration of various health professions from disciplining or taking adverse action on an application for registration of any person who assists with reproductive health care or gender-affirming services

    • Prohibiting Massachusetts law enforcement from providing information related to an investigation or inquiry into legally protected health care services to federal or another state’s law enforcement agencies, quasi-law enforcement agencies, or private citizens

    • Prohibiting medical malpractice insurers from discriminating against a provider that offers reproductive or gender-affirming health care services

    • Protecting Massachusetts residents from efforts to enforce court rulings from other states based on health care activity that is legally protected in Massachusetts

    • Prohibiting any Massachusetts court from ordering a person in Massachusetts to give testimony or produce documents for use in connection with any proceeding in an out-of-state tribunal concerning legally protected health care activity

    • Protecting Massachusetts residents and providers from lawsuits seeking to penalize health care activities legally protected in Massachusetts

    • Prohibiting a justice from issuing a summons for a person in Massachusetts to testify or appear in a court in another state in prosecutions or grand jury investigations related to legally protected health care activity

    • Limiting the Governor’s authority to surrender persons to acts that would be punishable under Massachusetts law and prohibiting them from surrendering a person charged in another state as a result of engaging in legally protected health care activity

    • Updating language from the 2020 ROE Act to ensure that impacted patients are able to receive in-state care  

The bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration.

MA HOUSE PASSES $10.9 BILLION TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

June 24, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently unanimously passed a transportation and infrastructure bill authorizing $10.9 billion for projects, including $400 million for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to address ongoing safety concerns identified by the Federal Transit Administration’s Safety Management Inspection, $250 million for the East-West passenger rail project.  Of note, Representative Galvin was able to secure $7.9 million in bond authorizations for local projects in the 6th Norfolk District.



“Acknowledging the importance of funding investments in our Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure, as well as the need for serious improvements to our public transit system, I am proud that the House has taken steps to lay the groundwork for the Governor to authorize these projects which will have a significant impact on making sure our roadways and the MBTA are safe for all to traverse,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “I am particularly proud that projects which will benefit the communities of the 6th Norfolk District have been included in this bond bill.”


The bill includes authorizations for:

  • $150,000 for the establishment of electric vehicle charging stations in Canton, Avon, and Stoughton;

  • $5,000,000 for roadway improvements to remediate flooding and drainage issues of the intersections of Page Street and Route 139 and Turnpike Street and Route 139 in Stoughton;

  • $500,000 for improvements to the Stoughton Train Station, Canton Center Train Station, and Canton Junction Train station;

  • $1,000,000 for design and construction of MBTA commuter rail quiet zone compliant intersections in Stoughton;

  • $1,000,000 for roadway improvements to Neponset Street and Randolph Street in Canton;

  • $250,000 for sidewalk repairs along Route 28 in Avon; and

  • $38,000 for pedestrian signals for walking routes to Avon Middle/High School and the Butler Elementary School.



Other highlights of the bill include:

  • $2,812,457,157 for projects on the interstate and non-interstate federal highway system;

  • $1,270,000,000 for non-federally aided roadway and bridge projects and for the nonparticipating portion of federally aided projects;

  • $85,000,000 for pavement and surface conditions on non-federally aided roadways;

  • $25,000,000 for pavement and surface conditions on municipal roadways;

  • $20,000,000 for grants to municipalities under the Complete Streets Funding Program;

  • $25,000,000 for grants to Transportation Management Associations;

  • $82,000,000 for rail improvements;

  • $64,900,000 for projects of regional transit networks and facilities;

  • $1,375,000,000 for sustainable transit system modernization and rail improvements;

  • $114,100,000 for the Airport Improvement Program;

  • $145,000,000 for multi-modal transportation planning and programming;

  • $10,000,000 for a public realm improvement program;

  • $3,500,000,000 for projects funded with discretionary federal grant funds;

  • $25,501,000 for the Mobility Assistance Program; and

  • $200,000,000 for projects that reduce emissions such as public alternative fueling stations and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, programs promoting e-bikes and public transportation, replacement of high-emissions vehicles, electric vehicles for hire and carsharing, electric school buses, electric short-haul freight, and delivery trucks


Additionally, the bill:

  • Updates safety requirements to be met prior to excavation projects;

  • Authorizes vehicles or trailers used for maintenance, construction activities in highway work zones to display flashing blue lights with a permit from the registrar;

  • Requires the MBTA to provide parking alternatives to commuters when it demolishes or reconstructs parking lots or garages it owns or operates;

  • Requires MassDOT, in consultation with the Comptroller, to develop and operate a publicly accessible and searchable database to report on this bill’s expenditures and any project receiving federal funding from the federal Infrastructure and Investment in Jobs Act of 2021; and

  • Establishes a commission to review and receive testimony concerning public entities, including those that may be created by statute in the future, with the ability to design, permit, construct, operate and maintain passenger rail service that meets the standards of the Final Alternatives in the East-West Passenger Rail Study Final Report issued by MassDOT in 2021


“An Act relative to Massachusetts’s transportation resources and climate” (H.4897) now goes to the Senate for their consideration.


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MA HOUSE PASSES FINAL VOTES ACT

June 17, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin joined fellow members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to recently pass comprehensive voting reform legislation.  An Act Fostering Voting Opportunities, Trust, Equity, and Security (The VOTES Act) 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.


“As an original co-sponsor of the VOTES Act, I am proud that the House has adopted a final version of the bill, which will become law,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).  “This bill builds upon the successful temporary mail-in and early voting options used in 2020 in Massachusetts, and helps ensure that everyone who can exercises their right to vote and participate in our democracy.”


This legislation reflects agreements reached by the VOTES Act Conference Committee to reconcile differences between proposals related to voting reform that were passed separately by the House and Senate earlier this legislative session.  The final bill, which now heads to the Governor’s desk, includes the following provisions:


  • Permanently codifies mail-in voting for any presidential, state or municipal primary or election.

  • Expands early voting by mandating 2 weeks (including 2 weekends) of early voting in-person for biennial state elections and 1week (including 1 weekend) for presidential or state primaries.

  • Enables electronic voting options for voters with disabilities and service members.

  • Moves the voter registration deadline from 20 to 10 days before a preliminary, primary, or election.

  • Helps ensure that incarcerated individuals who are currently eligible to vote are able to exercise their voting rights.

  • Gives municipalities the option to set up secure drop boxes for mail-in ballots.

  • Allows election officials to pre-process mail-in and early voting ballots.


Implementation of these reforms will be overseen by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and local election clerks, and the bill further instructs the Secretary to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign around these provisions.

MA HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS BARRIERS TO CARE FOR MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

June 17, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently unanimously passed landmark legislation that addresses barriers to care for mental and behavioral health.  This legislation creates a complete mental health program for all residents of Massachusetts and takes a multi-pronged approach to put a framework for care in place. 


“Recognizing the need for a statewide overhaul of our mental and behavioral health care system, the Legislature took a deep dive into crafting a bill to ensure that residents of Massachusetts, from children to seniors, receive the proper and appropriate care they need,”

said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “The legislation passed by the House, which I was proud to support, is quite comprehensive, and when these policies and programs are implemented, they will help to provide needed tools to ease and enhance mental and behavioral wellness among people of all ages across the Commonwealth.”


H.4879 acknowledges that children, in particular, need access to mental and behavioral health services, and seeks to improve the wellness of young people by enhancing school-based supports and increasing access points for effective behavioral health treatment.  This bill enhances school-based behavioral health services and programming by: (1) limiting the use of suspension and expulsion in all licensed early education and care programs, (2) creating a cost-neutral model emergency response plan that includes behavioral health crisis response, (3) creating a statewide program to help schools in implement school-based behavioral health services, and (4) establishing a student stakeholder advisory commission on mental health.  This bill also increases access points for youth for effective behavioral health treatment by: (1) creating a complex care resolution panel to ensure children with complex behavioral health needs are assisted quickly and with cross-agency support and coordination, (2) requiring behavioral health assessments and referrals for children entering the foster care system, and (3) empowering the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) to receive complaints from children and families in the Commonwealth and to assist them in resolving issues with access to behavioral health services.


Additionally, the bill lays out new programs to tackle acute psychiatric care and crisis response.  It addresses the emergency department boarding crisis by: (1) creating online portals that provide access to real-time data on youth and adults seeking mental health and substance use services and includes a search function that allows health care providers to easily search and find open beds using a number of criteria, (2) updating the expedited psychiatric inpatient admissions (EPIA) protocol and creating an expedited evaluation and stabilization process for patients under, and (3) codifying in statute the working group tasked with implementing the EPIA in law.  It also implements the 988 hotline to access 24/7 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis services, and expands 911 to bridge the gap until 988 is is online by increasing training, funding, and capacity for regional emergency responses to behavioral health crises.  It initiates a public awareness campaign on the Commonwealth’s red flag laws and extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) that limit access to guns for people at risk of hurting themselves or others. 


H.4879 addresses disparities in mental health and other forms of health care by giving the state additional tools to enforce existing parity laws and creating full system accountability for parity.  Far too few health plans adequately value mental health services, reimbursing mental health services at lower rates than other forms of health care.  This drives down the number of providers who accept or are even reimbursed by insurance and produces additional barriers to care. This proposal tackles this disparity by providing the Commonwealth additional tools to enforce existing parity laws and promote compliance, and enhances oversight of parity compliance. 


The legislation also enhances community-based behavioral health services by streamlining and studying the behavioral health delivery system.  This is done by: (1) requiring standard form for exchanging confidential behavioral health information, (2) examining ways to improve the accessibility of culturally-competent behavioral health services, and (3) establishing a continuing education program for licensed mental health professionals on military service-related behavioral health conditions.  Further, this proposal requires expanded insurance coverage of critical behavioral health services, including: emergency service programs, services provided under psychiatric collaborative care models, mental health acute treatment, community-based acute treatment and intensive community-based acute treatment without prior authorization, and annual mental health wellness exams. It also implements a technical fix to ensure individuals over 26 years old who live with disabilities can remain on their parents’ health insurance.


Finally, as more clinicians are leaving than entering the behavioral health workforce due to low pay, large and increasingly acute caseloads, and costly barriers to entry. This bill seeks to offset education and training costs to enter the workforce while improving the workplace overall to keep providers in the field. These initiatives are designed to attract and retain diverse and highly qualified mental health professionals.  It builds upon the Behavioral Health Trust Fund by carving out specific grant programs for health care providers to finance workforce pipeline investments, integrated care and support for providers. 


The bill will now go to a conference committee to reconcile differences between a similar bill which was passed by the State Senate earlier this legislative session.

MA HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS TEEN SEXTING AND IMAGE-BASED SEXUAL ASSAULT

May 27, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently unanimously passed legislation, addressing teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” 


“As modern technology continues to evolve, I was proud to join my colleagues in passing a law that addresses a twenty-first century problem,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).  “This legislation is twofold: it protects children through education and diversion instead of incarceration, and closes loopholes in our general laws to criminalize revenge porn.”


Under current law, minors who possess or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. “An Act relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens and the unlawful distribution of explicit images” (H.4498) allows minors to be diverted to an educational program established in the bill prior to delinquency proceedings.


The educational diversion program, to be created by the Attorney General and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), would provide teenagers with information about the legal and nonlegal consequences of sexting, which would be made available to school districts. DESE should also encourage districts to implement media literacy programs in their schools as a prevention measure.  The bill allows a district attorney to petition the court to bring criminal charges in extreme cases. Additionally, it creates a new misdemeanor offense specifically for minors who possess or disseminate explicit images.


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 prison time and/or a monetary fine for first and subsequent offenses. 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 now heads to the Senate for consideration.

MA HOUSE PASSES GOVERNMENTAL BOND BILL; REP. GALVIN SECURES AUTHORIZATIONS FOR LOCAL PROJECTS

May 20, 2022

BOSTON – Representative Bill Galvin and members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently unanimously passed a general governmental infrastructure bond bill, which would provide the Governor’s Administration the authorization to invest in publicly owned building maintenance and modernization projects, including at health and human services facilities, public higher education institutions, public safety and security facilities, and local municipal buildings.  The legislation also includes provisions to authorize investments in the Commonwealth’s cultural facilities, water pollution abatement programs, and programs for food security.  Further, the bill passed by the House puts a five-year moratorium on the construction of prisons and jails in Massachusetts.


“I was proud to support and vote for this legislation, which, if signed into law, would authorize the Administration of the Governor to release and invest funds to improve publicly owned facilities across the Commonwealth, ensuring our public buildings are equipped to handle the needs of a 21st century world.  Additionally, I am glad that this bill places investments in programs like food security, which, in light of the pandemic, has been brought the foreground of needing to be addressed.”


On the local level, Representative Galvin worked with Representative Philips to secure authorization of investment for many local projects for the communities of Avon, Canton and Stoughton, including:


- $75,000 for the food pantries of Avon, Canton and Stoughton;

- $227,000 for renovations to the Capen Reynolds Farm;

- $100,000 for improvements to the Tilden House;

- $100,000 for improvements to DeMarco Park;

- $100,000 for renovations to Canton Veterans Memorial Park; &

- $100,000 for a fire station in the Town of Stoughton.


The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES FY23 BUDGET

April 29, 2022

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed its Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget. Funded at $49.73 billion, the House’s FY23 budget continues its strong commitment to cities and towns, and includes significant investments in health care, education, housing, and workforce development. The House FY23 budget expands services without raising taxes and is made possible due to strong revenue collections and increased federal reimbursement. Due to responsible financial leadership, the state’s “rainy day” fund is estimated to stand at $6.55 billion.

The FY23 House budget funds Chapter 70 education funding for public schools at $5.988 billion, representing a $494 million increase over the FY22 budget. Canton schools will receive $7.8 million, and the town of Canton will receive $2.4 million in unrestricted government aid.

Representative Galvin (D-Canton) filed five successful amendments for local organizations including $150,000 for the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children’s summer program, $50,000 for the Paul Revere Heritage Site, $75,000 for the Blue Hills Weather Observatory and Science Center, and $75,000 for the regional fire rescue dispatch center. Representative Galvin also co-sponsored several successful amendments that will increase funding for the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, Meals on Wheels, dementia care, cancer screenings for firefighters, legal aid, Horizons for Homeless Children, the Mass Animal Fund, and Safe and Supportive Schools.

Representative Galvin also supported language that would create a common application for residents applying for assistance programs like SNAP, fuel assistance, veterans’ benefits, and MassHealth. This streamlined process will allow residents to receive all the benefits they are eligible for through one application.  This language was included in the final House version of the budget.

“This budget balances priorities and responsibly funds vital programs for residents. Without raising taxes, this budget supports economic growth to make our state’s economy strong and equitable,” said Representative Galvin.

The FY23 House budget includes an unprecedented $912 million to fund early education and care.  Early education and care initiatives include Head Start, subsidized daycare programs, childcare resources, and early childhood mental health grants. The budget also provides $110 million for a year-long extension of universal school meals, providing immediate relief to families by saving them up to $1,200 every year from reduced grocery expenditures, according to The Feed Kids Coalition.

The Commonwealth’s commitment to MassHealth remains one of the largest drivers of the budget. In FY23, the House is providing $18.40 billion to fully fund its caseload, which has increased as more residents became eligible during the pandemic. It also invests $37 million to expand eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program to 250% FPL.

The House FY23 budget includes funding for housing and homelessness prevention, investing $150 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), $140 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), $100 million for homeless individuals, $92 million for housing authority subsidies, and $59.4 million for HomeBASE.

The budget funds the Department of Developmental Services at $2.44 billion, aimed to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. It includes $278.4 million for Community Day and Work Programs, $90.6 million for respite services, $42.3 million in autism supports and services, $33.9 million in transportation services, $13.9 million for the autism division, and $1.8 million for supportive technology for individuals.

The budget also continues the House’s focus on environmental and climate protection by investing $349.7 million for environmental services, which include funding increases for state parks, environmental protection, and fisheries and wildlife. Additional measures include promoting electric vehicles and funding for environmental justice and climate adaptation and preparedness.

To ensure every resident has equal access to the criminal justice system, the House’s FY23 budget includes a $824.6 million investment in the Trial Court, $39.5 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, and increases for Prisoners’ Legal Services and Mental Health Legal Advisors. The budget also upholds commitments made by the Legislature’s criminal justice reform, such as $11.3 million for community-based residential re-entry programs and establishes an Employment Services Division within Probation funded at $2.2 million. Other investments include $24 million for re-entry and recidivism reduction programs and $6 million for Emerging Adults Recidivism Reduction Grant Program.

The budget also eliminates probation and parole fees to reduce the burden on individuals during their re-entry process. Currently, individuals pay $50 per month for administrative supervised probation fees, $65 per month for probation supervision fees, and $80 per month in parole fees.

“The House budget responds to the economic challenges currently facing Massachusetts residents by balancing a focus on immediate needs such as workforce development, with a focus on long-term investments that are designed to grow our economy in a sustainable way,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy).

The House Ways & Means Committee introduced their FY23 budget on April 13, 2022, following a review of the Governor’s proposal and a series of budget hearings. After three days of debate and over a thousand proposed amendments, the budget passed the House of Representatives 155-0 and now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

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MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE APPROVES FUNDING FOR LOCAL ROADS

April 6, 2022

(BOSTON)- Representative Bill Galvin (D- Canton) recently joined his colleagues in voting for Chapter 90 legislation that provides funding for municipal roads across the Commonwealth. This bill includes $200 million that will be divided amongst all cities and towns based on a formula, which takes into account road miles, population, and employment.  Under this formula, Avon will receive $183,059, Canton will receive $767,215, and Stoughton will receive $773,259 for road improvements.


“Chapter 90 funds are vital to communities to improve roads and bridges throughout the Commonwealth. I am pleased we were able to approve a total of $350 million for our cities and towns,” said Representative Galvin.


New this year, the bill included an additional $150 million for municipal infrastructure programs. $30 million will be dedicated for bridge repair, $30 million for the Complete Streets grant program, $25 million for municipal grants for business related programs, and $25 million to increase access to mass transit and commuter rail stations.


The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.


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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM STATE REPRESENTATIVE BILL GALVIN

December 20, 2021

We are halfway through our two year legislative session. It has been a busy first year grappling with the COVID pandemic, while also addressing non-pandemic related concerns facing Massachusetts residents. Below is a list of bills recently approved by the Legislature and signed into law-

· A Genocide Education Trust Fund was established by a new law. The fund will assist school districts with the creation and funding of a genocide curriculum, which will help ensure genocide and holocaust education is taught in our schools. I was pleased to co-sponsor and vote for this legislation.

· Legislation that expands access to free meals in schools became law in October. This new law prohibits schools from using punitive measures against students with meal debt and requires school districts to implement universal free breakfast and lunch for all students if a majority of students meet low-income criteria. I was also pleased to be a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation.

· Redistricting was approved for the Massachusetts House, Senate, and Congressional Districts. Redistricting occurs every 10 years after the census is completed to ensure districts have the correct number of voters. The Massachusetts House is increasing from 20 minority-majority districts to 33.

· The film tax credit, which was set to expire in 2022, was extended. The tax credit encourages film studios to shoot tv shows and movies in Massachusetts, which stimulates the local economy.

· The Legislature and governor committed funding for the construction of a modern Soldiers Home in Holyoke.

· A new law requires the issuance of a public notice when wastewater is released into Massachusetts waterways.

· The $4 billion ARPA bill that was signed into law provides $388 million for environmental priorities, $964 million for healthcare, $414 million for infrastructure, $389 million for education, $624 million for housing, and $267 million for economic development.

I look forward to a very productive 2022 in the Legislature. Wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year.

STATE LEGISLATURE PASS $4 BILLION BILL FOR COVID-19 NEEDS AND RECOVERY

December 10, 2021

BOSTON – Funded at $4 billion, the Massachusetts State Legislature approved a spending proposal utilizing Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to facilitate COVID-19 recovery through one-time investments across the state. The Legislature encouraged resident input regarding the allocation process and received over a thousand pieces of testimony over the course of six public hearings.

The bill addresses disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and aids recovery efforts with investments in economic development, health and human services, education, and climate mitigation. Amendments added additional funding for a variety of items, including food assistance programs, mental health services for minors, municipal water/sewer improvements, small business support, public health, housing, and school infrastructure.

“This Federal funding provides the state with a unique opportunity to upgrade our water infrastructure, expand housing opportunities, improve school buildings, provide additional assistance to non-profit organizations that have been working overtime during the pandemic to help low-income residents, and support small businesses and the arts sector to boost our economy. This funding is crucial to help our communities bounce back from the pandemic,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).

“I am so very pleased that these federal funds will allow the Commonwealth to investment in mental health, public health, workforce development, and so many other critically important areas. It has been our goal to improve the lives of our residents and help those disproportionately impacted during these difficult last two years,” said Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton).

Representative Galvin and Senator Timilty filed the following successful amendments for Canton:

o $173,000 for a community paramedic for the Canton Fire Department;

o $125,000 for a PFAS water treatment system;

o $200,000 for the Paul Revere Museum of Discovery and Innovation;

o $75,000 for preservation of the Tilden House;

o $250,000 for the Trout Brook well in Avon;

  • $100,000 for upgrades to the water treatment plant in Avon;

  • $150,000 for the Park Street/Campanelli Industrial Park sewer project in Stoughton;

  • $80,000 split between local food pantries, including;
    Canton Helpline Food Pantry, Rehoboth Baptist Church of Boston in Canton, Jewish Family and Children Services Inc. in Canton, Avon Baptist Church Food Pantry, Ilse Marks Food Pantry in Stoughton, Immaculate Conception Food pantry in Stoughton, and the Old Colony YMCA in Stoughton.

The bill also provides:

· $500 million to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund to offset businesses’ contributions for unemployment programs;

· Grants to support small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, with $35 million of it reserved for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses;

· Funding for behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment services;

· $150+ million for local and regional public health systems;

· Over $78+ million to address food insecurity;

· $500 million for premium pay bonuses for low- and middle-income workers who worked in-person during the COVID-19 State of Emergency;

· $150 million directed for public housing maintenance;

· $150 million to create permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, seniors, and veterans;

· $100 million for homeownership assistance;

· $100 million to improve indoor air-quality in schools;

· $388 million for environmental priorities.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES $3.82 BILLION BILL FOR COVID-19 NEEDS AND RECOVERY

November 3, 2021

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed a spending proposal utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) surplus funds. Funded at $3.82 billion, the bill aims to facilitate COVID-19 recovery through one-time investments across the state. The Legislature encouraged resident input regarding the allocation process and received over a thousand pieces of testimony over the course of six public hearings.

Following the public hearing process, the House Ways & Means Committee released its funding proposal. The bill addresses disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and aids recovery efforts with investments in economic development, health and human services, education, and climate mitigation. Amendments added additional funding for a variety of items, including food assistance programs, mental health services for minors, municipal water/sewer improvements, small business support, public health, housing, and school infrastructure.

“This Federal funding provides the state with a unique opportunity to upgrade our water infrastructure, expand housing opportunities, improve school buildings, provide additional assistance to non-profit organizations that have been working overtime during the pandemic to help low-income residents, and support small businesses and the arts sector to boost our economy. This funding is crucial to help our communities bounce back from the pandemic,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


Representative Galvin filed amendments that secure $173,000 for a community paramedic for the Canton Fire Department, $200,000 for the Paul Revere Museum of Discovery and Innovation, $75,000 for preservation of the Tilden House, and $250,000 to replace a well in Avon.

The bill also provides:

  • $500 million to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund to offset businesses’ contributions for unemployment programs;

  • $200 million worth of tax relief for small businesses that paid personal income taxes on state or federal relief awards during the pandemic;

  • $60 million for grants to support small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, with $35 million of it reserved for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses;

  • To assist recovering cultural organizations and artists, the bill appropriates $125 million to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for grants supporting cultural events, education or performances highlighting underrepresented voices;

  • $250 million for behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment services;

  • $150+ million for local and regional public health systems;

  • Over $78+ million to address food insecurity;

  • $5 million for legal aid;

  • $500 million for premium pay bonuses for low- and middle-income workers who worked in-person during the COVID-19 State of Emergency;

  • $150 million for workforce skills training;

  • $100 million for vocational and career and technical schools;

  • $150 million directed for public housing maintenance;

  • $150 million to create permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, seniors, and veterans;

  • $100 million for homeownership assistance;

  • $100 million for production and preservation of affordable rental housing for residents of municipalities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic;

  • The bill includes investments for environmental infrastructure and development spending, with a focus on environmental justice communities, climate change resiliency and clean energy;

  • $100 million toward infrastructure for communities to adapt and become climate resilient;

  • $100 million for water and sewer projects;

  • $12 million for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Massachusetts;


  • $100 million to improve indoor air-quality in schools;

  • $20 million for special education.


As a tool to inform future ARPA spending, the legislation allocates funding for the Inspector General’s office to create a public database and website to track total spending, including the percentage of funds spent in communities that were disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and to track the number of projects awarded to minority-owned businesses and organizations.

The House of Representatives approved the bill 159-0, which now goes to the Senate.

LEGISLATURE APPROVES BUDGET FOR FY22

July 9, 2021

Massachusetts Legislature Passes FY22 Budget


BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Legislature unanimously passed a $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This budget increases funding for education, local aid, economic development, and environmental protection initiatives, while also depositing funds into the state’s ‘rainy day’ account.


“The last year and half has been a real challenge, and I am pleased that we were able to produce a budget that will help in the recovery effort and positions the state for stability in the future,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “Despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, this budget fully funds vital programs, while also increasing funds and creating new programs in the areas of education, job training, environmental protection, and assistance for low-income residents. It is vital that the state provides a variety of assistance programs that are accessible and effective to allow families to rebound from the effects of the pandemic.”


Representative Galvin filed the following successful amendments:

  • $150,000 for the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital’s summer program in Canton

  • $50,000 for the Norfolk County Regional Fire and Rescue Dispatch Center

  • $50,000 for the Blue Hills Weather Observatory

  • $25,000 for the restoration of the Tilden House

  • $50,000 for repairs of the Redman House (located on Ponky Golf Course and owned by the state, but home to the Neponset River Watershed Association).


Representative Galvin supported numerous amendments including:

  • $250,000 for the Trailside Museum

  • $40,000 for renovating the Stoughton Train Depot

  • $30,000 for hockey boards in Stoughton

  • $20,000 for OASIS in Stoughton

  •  $20,000 for the Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse

  • $20,000 for the Avon Coalition for Every Student

  • $36,000 for the Canton Fire Department to conduct trainings

Additionally-

  • Avon schools will receive $2.4 million and the Town of Avon will receive $761,741

  • Canton schools will receive $6.6 million and the Town of Canton will receive $2.3 million

  • Stoughton schools will receive $17.2 million and the Town of Stoughton will receive $3.5 million


The FY22 budget prioritizes funding for education by depositing $350 million into the new Student Opportunity Act Investment fund to be utilized in the coming years for the implementation of the state’s landmark Student Opportunity Act (SOA). The SOA increased the state’s level of investment to guarantee that school districts across the Commonwealth have adequate and equitable resources to provide high quality educational opportunities for all students. The FY22 budget also includes a $40 million reserve to provide additional aid to districts experiencing increases in student enrollment compared to October 2020.



To help families get back to work, the FY22 conference report includes $820 million for the early education sector, including $20 million to increase rates for early education providers, $15 million for Massachusetts Head Start programs, $10 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand public preschool, and $9 million to cover the cost of fees for parents receiving subsidized early education in calendar year 2021. The budget funds early intervention services at $40.8 million to ensure supports are accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, including funds to support health equity initiatives.


A number of “Green Budget” priorities were incorporated, including record funding levels for the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, funding for the Department of Ecological Restoration to address flooding concerns, and $13 million for a workforce development program for wind. The budget also boosted spending for the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s funding for state parks to $50 million.


This budget aims to address the increasing costs of caregiving by converting the existing tax deductions for young children, elderly or disabled dependents and business-related dependent care expenses into refundable tax credits. These tax credits will benefit low-income families who have little or no personal income tax liability and cannot claim the full value of the existing deductions. The conversion to a refundable tax credit will provide an additional $16 million to over 85,000 families each year. The budget also includes $30.5 million for Emergency Food Assistance, $7.5 million for grants to Community Foundations to support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and $5 million for the Secure Jobs Connect program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals.


The FY22 budget builds on the success of last year’s efforts to tackle ‘deep poverty’ with a 20 per cent increase to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefits over December 2020 levels, ensuring families receive the economic supports they need to live, work and provide stability for their children. The budget also provides resources to help with housing instability, including $150 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to expand access to affordable housing, $85 million for grants to local housing authorities, $22M for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program and $8 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers to help administer nearly $1 billion in federal housing relief.


The budget makes the state’s film tax credit permanent and requires an increase in the percentage of production expenses or principal photography days in the Commonwealth from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. The film tax credit was set to expire in January 2023. The budget also includes a disability employment tax credit for employers that hire employees with a disability.


The FY22 budget repeals three ineffective tax expenditures as recommended by the Tax Expenditure Review Commission (TERC), namely the exemption of income from the sale of certain patents, the medical device tax credit, and the harbor maintenance tax credit, effective January 1, 2022. The TERC found that these tax expenditures are either obsolete, fail to provide a meaningful incentive, or fail to justify their cost to the Commonwealth. The TERC was created as part of a Senate budget initiative in Fiscal Year 2019.



Understanding that the pandemic has been a stressor on mental and behavioral health, the FY22 budget invests $175.6 million for substance use disorder and intervention services provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. It also invests $12.5 million to support a student telebehavioral health pilot, public awareness campaigns, loan forgiveness for mental health clinicians, and initiatives to mitigate emergency department boardings for individuals in need of behavioral health support, as well as $10 million for Programs of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) grants to provide intensive, community-based behavioral health services for adolescents.


The budget includes $56.1 million for domestic violence prevention services, $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to K- 12 schools to bolster social emotional learning supports for students, and $15 million to support local and regional boards of health as they continue to work on the front lines against the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Investments in economic and workforce development include a $17 million transfer to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund, $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes, and $9.5 million for one-stop career centers to support economic recovery. $15 million will go to the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program, $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state, and $2.5 million for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, including $1.5 million for new regional security operation centers, which will partner with community colleges and state universities to provide cybersecurity workforce training to students and cybersecurity services to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses


To protect residents of the Commonwealth, the FY22 budget codifies and expands the existing Governor’s task force on hate crimes to advise on issues relating to hate crimes, ways to prevent hate crimes and how best to support victims of hate crimes. The conference report makes the task force permanent and expands its membership to include members of the Legislature and an appointee from the Attorney General. The conference report also contains a provision that supports immigrants who are victims of criminal activity or human trafficking.



Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES FY22 BUDGET, SUPPORTING RESIDENTS’ NEEDS AND MAKING TARGETED INVESTMENTS

May 4, 2021

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget, which includes significant investments in education, supportive services for vulnerable populations, and workforce and economic development. Funded at $47.716 billion, the budget does not cut services nor does it raise taxes, and is made possible due to strong revenue collections, increased federal reimbursement, and by leveraging funds from the state’s Stabilization Fund.

“This balanced budget funds vital programs that resident rely on while also making investments that set the state on a path for a robust post-pandemic economic recovery,” said state Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “It is a well rounded budget that demonstrates a strong commitment to education and local aid, while also prioritizing programs related to economic development, environmental protection, and services for residents in need of assistance”.

Representative Galvin successfully secured funding through the amendment process to support a summer program at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, so the children it serves can continue to learn during the summer months. Representative Galvin also filed successful amendments to help fund operations at the Norfolk County Dispatch Center and the Blue Hills Weather Observatory. Two historic Canton homes, the Tilden House and the Redman House, will also receive funds for improvements through amendments filed by Representative Galvin. Representative Galvin co-sponsored an amendment with Representative Ted Philips (D-Sharon) that will help fund improvements of the Stoughton Train Depot.

The FY22 House budget boosts local aid for communities by $39.5 million over FY21 for a total of $1.168 billion and Chapter 70 education funding by $219.6 million over FY21 for a total of $5.503 billion. The budget fully funds the first year of a six-year implementation plan of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA), which was enacted in 2019 to support equitable funding for our most vulnerable students. The Legislature’s funding schedule ensures the SOA remains on track to be fully implemented over the course of seven years. Avon will receive $761,741 in local aid and $2.4 million for education through Chapter 70, Canton will receive $2.3 million in local aid and $6.6 million for education through Chapter 70, Stoughton will receive $3.5 million in local aid and $17.2 million for education through Chapter 70.

The House’s FY22 budget also creates a $40 million enrollment reserve fund to help school districts whose fall enrollment is negatively impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help students with the consequences of prolonged remote learning and address the full educational and social-emotional needs of students, the budget provides $15 million for summer education and supportive services. Additional education funding allocations include $367 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker, $154 million for Charter School Aid, $82 million for Regional Transportation, and $14 million for Homeless Student Transportation.

Early Education and Care (EEC) and higher education will also receive funding through the FY22 budget. EEC will receive a $20 million investment in rate increases for childcare providers across Massachusetts, $15 million for Head Start grants, $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies, $5 million for EEC higher education provider opportunities, and $2.5 million for early childhood mental health grants. The University of Massachusetts system will receive

$571, community colleges will receive $315 million, and state universities will receive $291 million. The budget also includes a $10 million increase in scholarship funding over last fiscal year for a new total of $130 million, and funds the community colleges SUCCESS Fund at $10.5 million and the STEM Starter Academy at $4.75 million.

The budget also includes large investments in labor and economic development, such as the creation of a trust fund dedicated to job training for the offshore wind industry to be administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Additional investments include $50 million for adult education, $24 million for Youthworks Summer Jobs, $5 million for Small Business Technical Assistance, $5 million for Community Action Agency Operating and Outreach Support, and $2 million investment in Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Many of the House FY22 budget’s most significant increases represent essential services and programs that serve Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents, including $771.1 million for the Department of Transitional Assistance to maintain support to families, at-risk parents, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Other notable health and human services investments include $30 million for Emergency Food Assistance and $13 million for Healthy Incentives Program.

The House’s FY22 budget also includes funding for housing and homelessness prevention, investing $22 million in direct appropriations for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program to promote housing stability and combat the threat of evictions. The budget also includes $148 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and $84 million for public housing subsidies. Additional investments for individuals and youth include $56.4 million for Homeless Individuals Shelters, $12.5 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), $12 million for Rental Subsidies for eligible DMH Clients, and $8 million for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.

The budget funds the Department of Developmental Services at $2.29 billion, aimed to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. It includes $219.9 million for Day and Work programs, $84.9 million for Respite Family Supports, a $55.4 million increase for DDS’ Turning 22 class, a $7 million investment in transportation services, and $23.4 million for head injury treatment services.

Reflecting the Legislature’s strong commitment to providing access to care and treatment for individuals with a substance use disorder, the budget allocates $160 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, including support for the MA-Access to Recovery program and targeted investments in five additional recovery centers. The budget also provides funding for low-threshold housing for people experiencing homelessness, mental health disorders and at risk for HIV; outpatient and mobile services for persons with disabilities, and treatment at correctional facilities.

In an effort to ensure every resident has equal access to the criminal justice system, the House’s FY22 budget includes a $775 million investment in the Trial Court, $35 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, and increases for Prisoners’ Legal Services and Mental Health Legal Advisors. The budget also renews commitments made by the state’s criminal justice reform, such as $11.1 million for community-based re-entry programs, $4 million in pre- and post-release services, and funds for labs to test rape kits that are currently backlogged.

The House included $312.6 million in funding for environmental services, which includes increases for state parks, environmental protection, and the endangered species programs. Additional investments include millions for hazardous waste site cleanups, river ways protection and access, and Clean Water Trust contract assistance. Funding was also included to conduct a study to determine the effects of glyphosate on public health and the environment.

The House budget makes the MEFA college savings tax deduction permanent, creates a commission to develop recommendations and best practices for responses to mental health emergencies, and creates a new program to approve rural growth funds that would invest in small businesses in rural communities. It also eliminates the sunset on the Film Tax Credit and increases the Conservation Land Tax Credit.

Speaker Mariano and the House Ways & Means Committee introduced their FY22 budget on April 14, 2021, following a review of the Governor’s proposal and a series of budget hearings. After three days of debate and over a thousand proposed amendments, the budget passed by the House of Representatives 160-0 and now goes to the Senate.

MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE PASSES LANDMARK CLIMATE LEGISLATION

March 23, 2021

(BOSTON) The Massachusetts House of Representatives and state Senate recently passed nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill. The legislation overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.


This passage of the climate bill comes after it was refiled following a gubernatorial veto last session. This session Governor Baker offered amendments to the bill, which have been considered by the Legislature. The House and Senate rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of more technical amendments that improve the bill.


“This is historic legislation that creates a roadmap for the state to follow to reduce our carbon emissions and finally acknowledges and addresses the needs of environmental justice communities across the state. I am glad we were able to get this bill back to the governor’s desk so quickly,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


The legislation creates a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy. It will achieve this goal by expanding offshore wind and solar, tightening efficiency standards, and increaseing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030. The legislation sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.


An important aspect of the bill puts an environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods. It also prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities and establishes a $12 million annual fund for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.


The legislation directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the regulator of the state's electric and natural gas utilities, to balance system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation impliments several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates.  It also requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering by MassSave.


A national first, this legislation factors the "carbon sequestration" capacity of Massachusetts' natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans. The legislation also provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.


The bill now returns to the Governor’s desk.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE APPROVES COVID-19 RELIEF LEGISLATION AND EXTENDS VOTE-BY-MAIL THROUGH JUNE

March 16, 2021

(BOSTON)-  The Massachusetts House recently voted to provide additional assistance to unemployed residents and small businesses with a COVID-19 relief bill. Legislation to extend early voting and vote-by-mail provisions through June 2021 was also approved.


“With the number of COVID cases decreasing and vaccinations increasing, it finally feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have many COVID-19 related issues to tackle. I am pleased we were able to approve another COVID-19 relief bill to help residents and small business owners and extend vote-by-mail regulations for our upcoming local election,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “I am particularly pleased that guranteed COVID-19 sick time was included for all workers. This is a policy I have supported since last summer and I am glad it has been approved by the House”.


The most recent COVID-19 bill provides targeted assistance to residents who are unemployed during the pandemic. The bill provides a tax credit for unemployed workers whose income falls

200% below the poverty limit so they will not need to pay taxes on these benfits. The bill also waives the tax penalty for not paying taxes on unemployment assistance. The bill also guarantees emergency paid sick time to all Massachusetts residents who contract COVID-19, need to quarantine from possible exposure, are caring for a loved one with COVID-19, or need time off for treatment, diagnosis, or vaccination.


In an effort to aid small businesses, the legislation freezes the amount businesses pay into the unemployment system per employee at the current rate. PPP loans that are forgiven will not be counted as taxable gross income for small business owners.  This legislation is now before the Senate for consideration.


Legislation to extend mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021 was approved by the Legislature. The vote-by-mail provision was previously set to expire at the end of March. Additionally, the legislation requires local election officials to make reasonable efforts to grant accommodations for voters with disabilities who might have difficulty accessing a paper mail-in ballot and request an accommodation. Furthermore, cities and towns can postpone municipal elections and caucuses scheduled before June 30, 2021 until August 1, 2021.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Baker on March 16th.


“As other states across our country work to disenfranchise their voters, I am proud Massachusetts is choosing to extend and enhance efforts to ensure every eligible resident can exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot in our local elections, stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “With a record number of ballots casted in 2020, our successful vote-by-mail system increased access and protected our most vulnerable residents from putting their health at risk.”


“During this pandemic, our vote-by-mail system has proved to be an accessible and secure tool for voters to exercise their right to vote without putting their health at risk,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “We are glad to have passed this extension that will allow cities and towns to continue offering vote by mail and other voting options for their upcoming elections.”


STATEWIDE COALITION SUCCESSFULLY SECURES LIMITS ON PESTICIDES SHOWN TO HARM POLLINATORS

March 11, 2021

BOSTON– The state Pesticide Board Subcommittee voted this week to recategorize neonicotinoid pesticides, removing them from retail shelves. Neonicotinoid are a class of insecticides shown to harm bees and other pollinators. This is the first statewide ban of these pesticides in the nation.


For the past decade, Massachusetts has lost 45% of its bee colonies each year on average, with annual losses peaking as high as 61% in 2017. A growing body of evidence has demonstrated that neonicotinoid pesticides are contributing to the decline. A 2019 study of these pesticides commissioned by the Legislature found that “recent and more comprehensive reviews point to a large body of evidence documenting the ability of neonicotinoids to adversely affect pollinators.” The federal Environmental Protection Agency has also identified impacts on butterflies, invertebrates, and other aquatic organisms.


A bill to restrict the use of these pesticides in Massachusetts entitled,”An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators”, has been before the Legislature in previous legislative sessions. The motion adopted by the Pesticide Subcommittee on Monday reflected key elements of “An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators”, including the requirement to remove neonicotinoid pesticides labeled for gardening and landscaping use from stores. Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) has been a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation for many years.


“I am pleased that regulations to limit the use of these chemicals are now in place. I thank the constituents who brought this issue to my attention and to my colleague Representative Dykema, who was the primary sponsor of the bill and worked tirelessly to make these regualtions a reality. These regualtions are a win for the environment, pollinators, and Massachusetts farmers and gardners,” said Representative Galvin.


Since their introduction in the mid-2000s, neonicotinoids have grown to be the most widely used class of insecticides in the United States. Declining pollinator populations are of great concern to environmentalists and the agricultural sector because pollinators are essential to crop pollination. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators are crucial to the production of 1/3 of our food supply.


Since 2012, Representative Caroline Dykema of Hopkinton, who was the bill’s primary sponsor, and Attorney General Maura Healey have been joined by a broad coalition of stakeholders in advocating for these restrictions, ranging from environmental advocates to agricultural interests. The coalition includes the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, MassPIRG, the Sierra Club, Environment Massachusetts, and key members of the agricultural sector including the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Massachusetts Flower Growers Association.


“In the United States, pollinators like honeybees, bumble bees, butterflies, and songbirds are responsible for a third of food we consume,” said Attorney General Healey. “Statewide limits on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides will provide critical protections for pollinators and help reduce the risks these pesticides pose to our agriculture, ecosystem, and economy. I’m grateful to Representative Dykema for her leadership on this issue over the years, and to the coalition of stakeholders who have helped us raise the alarm about the serious harm neonicotinoid pesticides pose to bees and other crucial pollinators.”


“I’m thrilled that the public and our broad coalition of voices have finally been heard,” said Rep. Dykema. “The adoption of these pollinator protection measures is an important step forward in protecting our precious natural ecosystems in Massachusetts, as well as our agricultural economy. The measures adopted on Monday reflect a recognition of the harms these products pose and the broad support of the public for common-sense, science-based policies that protect our environment, our farmers, local agriculture, and the consumer. I’m also grateful for the tremendous support for this effort from my colleagues in government, including Attorney General Healey, Speaker Mariano, Secretary Theoharides, the Department of Agricultural Resources, the members of the Pesticide Subcommittee, and so many of my legislative colleagues who were persistent in their support over many years. There’s more work to do, but this is an important step forward.”

 

REPRESENTATIVE GALVIN REAPPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RULES

February 19, 2021

(BOSTON)- Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) was recently reappointed as the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules for the 2021 – 2022 legislative session. He was appointed by Speaker Mariano and confirmed by a vote of his fellow representatives.


“It is an honor to continue to serve as the Chairman of the Rules Committee, and I thank Speaker Marino and my colleagues for their support,” said Representative Galvin.


Speaker Mariano nominated several representatives for leadership and chairmanship positions that were approved by the House. Speaker Marino stated his dedication to diversity early in his speakership, and has created a leadership team that is more diverse than previous legislative sessions. The Speaker and Senate President also created three new committees, including the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness, the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion, and the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity.