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2019 - 2020 PRESS RELEASES

 

LEGISLATURE ENDS TWO YEAR SESSION IN FLURRY OF ACTIVITY

January 7, 2021

(BOSTON) The 2019 – 2020 legislative session for the Massachusetts Legislature came to an end in the early hours of January 6th, marking the end of an unprecedented year. Legislators met in marathon sessions during the holidays to pass legislation that had been in the works for nearly two years. The Legislature enacted landmark climate change legislation, an economic development package, a transportation bond bill, an omnibus healthcare bill, campus sexual assault prevention, a ban on flame-retardants, and established commissions to look at maternal mortality for women of color and options for creating a new state seal.


“December and January have been very busy months for the Legislature. A lot of work has gone into these bills over the course of this session. I am very pleased that we were able to pass these important bills before session ended,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


The climate legislation will decrease greenhouse gas emissions, create clean energy jobs, improve gas pipeline safety, and will protect environmental justice communities. The bill, An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy (S.2995), sets a target of 2050 for Massachusetts to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.


A $625.5 million economic development bill also successfully passed the House and Senate.

The bill includes $35 million for small business loans, $30 million for a loan program similar to the federal Paycheck Protection Program for businesses, and funding for job training, technology, and advance manufacturing. In an effort to aid the restaurant industry, the legislations caps the fee charged by food delivery services to 15% of the bill, which will protect restaurants from the high fees charged by many of the popular food delivery services. The bill will also require the creation of a student loan bill of rights, which will ensure students understand what their responsibilities are as a borrower, and will help prevent them from falling victim to predatory loan companies. The legislation touches on housing issues, and includes $50 million in funding for transit-oriented housing. Representative Galvin secured $100,000 for the Canton Housing Authority.


The Legislature also enacted a $16 Billion bond bill to improve the state’s transportation system. Representative Galvin secured funding for numerous local projects, including $300 Million to redesign the 1-95/1-93 interchange, $5 Million for improvements to Canton Junction, $15 million to improve 139 in Stougton, $1.6 million for road repairs in Avon, and funding to install heaters at all three MBTA stations in Canton and Stoughton.


A major healthcare bill was approved by the Legislature, which will reduce costs for residents. The bill requires insurance companies to cover COVID-19 related doctor visits and tests without any cost sharing for the patient. Tele-health visits are also to be covered and will be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits. The bill seeks to curtail surprise “out-of-network” costs, by requiring providers and insurance companies to notify a patient about their network status prior to a non-emergency procedure. The legislation also removes barriers for MassHealth clients to access emergency care and expands the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and optometrists.


A bill to address sexual assaults on college campuses was also enacted by the Legislature. The bill will require colleges and universities to adopt sexual misconduct policies and post them online, develop and administer an anonymous climate survey for students to complete at least once every four years, and campuses will need to appoint a resource advisor to help students if they are the victim of an assault.


11 flame retardant chemicals linked to cancer have been banned in Massachusetts under a bill that was also approved. The chemicals have been blamed for causing cancer in firefighters, who breathe the chemicals in while fighting fires. Some of the chemicals have also been linked to childhood cancers. The chemicals can be found in numerous items, including furniture, bedding, toys, and carpets.   Products containing these chemicals will no longer be sold in Massachusetts.


A Resolve reducing racial inequities in maternal health creates a special legislative commission to make recommendations to address barriers that result in racial inequities, including women of color dying of pregnancy-related causes. The Commission is charged with gathering statewide data on maternal mortality and making recommendations to reduce and eliminate racial barriers to accessing equitable maternal care.




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HOUSE PASSES BALANCED BUDGET WITH TARGETED INVESTMENTS IN HOUSING, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND FOOD SECURITY

November 20, 2020

BOSTON – State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton), joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to approve a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $46 billion, the House budget aims to address the sweeping effects of the global pandemic by making targeted investments in housing, food security, economic development, substance use addiction services, and establishes a grant program to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The budget also invests in programs that provide COVID-related supports for students and increases funding for developmental services.



Through the amendment process, Representative Galvin was able to secure additional funding for local organizations. The Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, which is based in Canton and educates children with physical disabilities, would receive $75,000 for the school’s summer program from a Galvin amendment. Representative Galvin’s second successful amendment would provide $50,000 for the operation of the Norfolk County Regional Fire and Rescue Dispatch Center. The Representative’s final amendment would provide $50,000 for the operation of the Blue Hill Weather Observatory, which is the oldest weather observatory in the country.


“This was a particularly difficult budget, but it is a balanced budget that provides the maximum funding possible to crucial programs that residents rely on, including programs that provide assistance to residents who are facing housing and food insecurity. Despite a funding shortfall, this budget does not include drastic cuts, while maintaining local aid to communities and increasing funding for our schools,” said Representative Galvin.

The budget provides $1.1 billion for local aid for municipalities and invests $5.3 billion in public schools through Chapter 70. The Town of Canton will receive $2.2 in local aid funding and Canton schools will receive $6.5 million, which is a slight increase over last year. In addition to the $5.3 billion in Chapter 70 funding, the House budget provides $53 million for COVID-related student supports, $340 million for the Circuit Breaker Special Education reimbursement, $117 million for Charter School Reimbursement, and $82 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement.


The House budget also funds Early Education and Care (EEC) and Higher Education. The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and supports continuing education opportunities with community colleges. The House budget also includes $15 million for Head Start grants, $10 million for sliding fee scale reserve for childcare subsidies, $10 million for EEC Workforce Higher Education Opportunities,

$2.5 million in early childhood mental health grants, $11 million for child care resource and referral agencies, and establishes the Early Education and care Economic review commission to review childcare funding and make recommendations on policy changes to expand access.


The budget supports public higher education institutions and increases scholarship funding for students. These investments include $284 million for state universities, $305 million for community colleges, $560 million for the University of Massachusetts system, $120 million in scholarship funding, and $4.8 million for the STEM Starter Academy, to support underrepresented students in STEM fields at community colleges.


In an effort to assist residents who may be struggling with housing insecurity during the pandemic, the House is providing additional funding for rental and housing assistance to combat the eviction crisis. This includes $50 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT), $135 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), $80 million for public housing subsidies, $56 million for homeless individual shelters, $13 million for homeless student transportation, $11 million for Department of Mental Health Rental Subsidy Program, and $8 million for unaccompanied homeless youth.


Due to the widespread economic effects of the COVID crisis, the House makes specific investments in labor and economic development programs that provide opportunities for the Commonwealth’s workers and locally-owned businesses. The House maintains its support for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership with an investment of $2 million, which will continue to help Massachusetts manufactures retrofit their businesses for the PPE market. Other investments include $15 million for a local Paycheck Protection Program, $6 million for small business technical assistance grants, $1.4 million for small business development, $2.5 million in Urban Agenda Grants, and $19 million for summer jobs for at-risk youth.


Funded this fiscal year $19 billion, MassHealth is the largest investment the Commonwealth makes in its most vulnerable residents. The budget also invests in critical health and human services agencies and providers including $30 million in emergency food assistance and $13 million for the Healthy Incentives Program, which helps low-income families and local farmers by providing funds for families to purchase locally produced food at farmers markets and stands. An additional $307 million will be provided to the Department of Children and Families for social workers, family support and stabilization, and foster care and adopted fee waivers.


In order to support programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the House budget increases funding for developmental services to $2.1 billion and includes $264 million for community day and work programs across the Commonwealth. The House budget also includes $236 million for state-operated residential services, $78 million for family respite services, and $39 million for autism omnibus services.


The budget furthers the House’s ongoing commitment to fight the opioid epidemic. To provide assistance to those who are battling substance addiction, the budget increased funding for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to $162 million while offering continued support for step-down recovery services, jail diversion programs, and expansion of access to life-saving medication.


The House budget includes funding for the judiciary and ongoing criminal justice reform, including a $761 million investment in the trial court and $20 million for criminal justice reform implementation. The budget also includes $29 million for civil legal aid to provide representation for low-income individuals via the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, $9.6 million for a new community-based re-entry program, and $4 million for a pre and post-release services grant program.


The House calls for $302 million in spending for environmental programs, which aim protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources. These investments include $50 million for state parks and recreation, $40 million for the Department of Environmental Protection, $16 million for fisheries and wildlife protection, $8.1 million for agricultural resources, $2.1 million for ecological restoration, and $500,000 for the Commonwealth’s endangered specials program.

LEGISLATURE PASSES LEGISLATION TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TO 17,000 LOW-INCOME RECIPIENTS, NEW GRANT PROGRAM LAUNCHED TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES

October 28, 2020

(BOSTON) – The Massachusetts Legislature recently enacted legislation to increase unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts who were previously ineligible from receiving federal funding from the Lost Wages Assistance program. The Lost Wages Assistance program provided an additional $300 in federal funding to residents who were collecting unemployment between the end of July and the beginning of September.



Many residents did not qualify for the additional $300 because they received less than $100 a week through unemployment. This legislation corrects this disparity, allowing those residents to collect as much as $1,800. It is estimated that $31 million in Federal funding will be distributed to Massachusetts residents because of this legislation.


“This funding will help residents across the state who may be struggling financially due to the public health emergency. I am grateful that this legislation was swiftly passed and signed into law so we can get funding to residents as quickly as possible,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


“We are committed, in the Massachusetts State Legislature, to making sure that people get the help they need. So many are struggling in this economy as a result of the pandemic. It is crucial that no recipient of unemployment benefits be left out of receiving the monetary boost,” said State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton).


It was also announced this week that the State will provide grants to small businesses who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Businesses with 5 employees or fewer are eligible for grants up to $25,000 and businesses with up to 50 employees can receive grants up to $75,000. Businesses must be locally owns and cannot be “chains”. Funds can be used for payroll, rent, mortgages, utilities, and interest payments. The $50.8 Million grant program is funded with a combination of state funds and monies received from the Federal Government through the CARES Act. Business owners who would like to apply for a grant should submit an application to the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PROVIDES AN UPDATE ON THE ONGOING 2019-2020 SESSION

August 21, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the House continues its work through an extended emergency session, which has seen passage of legislation relating to the pandemic, education, transportation, and climate change



BOSTON – Over the course of the Massachusetts Legislature’s 2019-2020 session, the House has passed emergency legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as landmark legislation relating to education, transportation, and climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic upended the second half of the 2019-2020 session when the Legislature paused regular business to pass COVID related legislation. Following a decisive vote in July to extend the formal legislative session that was due to end on July 31st, the Massachusetts Legislature continues to work on bills vital to the Commonwealth.


“It has been a very busy legislative session. The education and transportation bills we passed are crucial, and it is fortunate we were able to get those done before COVID. We will continue to work on COVID related legislation to help residents and small businesses, as well as important non-COVID related bills,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


The House spent the spring focused on the COVID-19 State of Emergency. During that time, the House passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits, protect public health, and institute provisions for remote voting in the House and mail-in voting for local, state, and federal elections held in 2020. The emergency legislation also included one of the strongest moratoriums in the country protecting tenants and homeowners from eviction and foreclosure and permitted restaurants to serve alcohol, beer, and wine for carry out service.


Prior to the pandemic, the House passed several important pieces of legislation that have become law. The first was the Student Opportunity Act, which dedicates $1.5 billion in state funding to public education and changes the education formula for to make education funding more equitable.


The House passed nation-leading legislation to modernize tobacco control and ban all flavored tobacco. Additionally, the House passed legislation to protect college students by ensuring higher education financial stability and oversight, legislation to reduce distracted driving, banned conversion therapy for minors, and provided supplemental funding for women’s health organizations as a result of federal cuts to the Title X program. The House also ensured no student in-need would go hungry by requiring breakfast after the school bell.


The House voted on two separate bills that commit $800 million to improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state. One bill dedicates $200 Million for municipalities to maintain and repair local roads, sidewalks, and bridges. Canton will receive $766,981 for road maintenance through this legislation.



Helping to protect the most vulnerable children and families in the state, the House voted to lift a decades-old family welfare cap to extend cash benefits to the 8,700 Massachusetts children and their families who had previously been excluded. The House also passed legislation creating a care registry to protect persons with intellectual or developmental disability from abuse. To address the complex health and wellness needs of the Commonwealth’s 1.4 million children, the House led efforts this session passing comprehensive legislation to ensure increased access to services and a more holistic approach to children’s health and wellness supports.


In May, the House announced the formation of its Early Education and Care (EEC) Recovery Advisory Group. The group is tasked with helping address the challenges facing childcare in this new and changing landscape, and established the EEC Public-Private Trust Fund, creating an infrastructure to foster public-private and philanthropic efforts for childcare providers, including providing $500,000 for technical and small business support during the recovery process. In July, in response to growing concerns about the significant drop in reports of child abuse and neglect during the COVID-19 crisis, the House also passed legislation to strengthen oversight policies and operations at the Department of Children and Families.


The House also approved numerous bills that are still pending final approval. This includes an $18 billion bond bill to improve transportation infrastructure across the state to make our transit system safe and reliable. Representative Galvin secured bond authorization worth over $300 million for Canton for the I-95/I-93 interchange and improvements to Canton Junction Station. In a separate bond bill, Representative Galvin received funding authorizations for IT upgrades for the Library, Town Hall, Police Department, and Fire Department in Canton. The transportation bond bill is before a conference committee and the IT bond bill is before the governor for consideration.


The House passed two pieces of legislation to address climate change. The House acted to address climate resiliency by advancing a $1 billion investment – known as GreenWorks – over the next 10 years to help communities across Massachusetts adopt technologies that cut greenhouse gas emissions, fortify infrastructure, and reduce municipal costs. The House also passed a climate change bill that sets a statewide 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions limit, establishing environmental justice population criteria, increasing statewide renewable energy requirements, and bolstering green programs for underserved populations. The GreenWorks bill is before the Senate and the omnibus climate change bill is before a conference committee.


In keeping with the House’s ongoing commitment to protect public health and safety, the House passed health care legislation to facilitate the use of telemedicine as well as strengthen community hospitals. The House also passed legislation aimed at eliminating racial inequities in maternal health that have resulted in women of color dying of pregnancy-related causes at more than double the rate of white women. Both of these bills are before the Senate for consideration.


As part of a sweeping economic development bill, the House passed legislation to legalize sports betting, provide supports to small businesses and at-risk populations, and make investments in affordable housing. This bill is being deliberated by a conference committee made up of members from the House and the Senate.


The House has passed the following legislation since session started on January 1, 2019:


COVID-19 Legislation that has become law:


An Act to Facilitate the Delay of the Income Tax Filing Deadline (H.4677)

An Act Providing Additional Support to Those Affected by the Novel Coronavirus Through the Unemployment Insurance System (H.4648)

An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment (H.4672)

An Act Relative to Voting Options in Response to COVID-19 (H.4820)

An Act Making $15 million in Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Provide for Supplementing Certain Existing Appropriations Relating to the Coronavirus (H.4561)

An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19 (H.4616)

An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19 (H.4598)

An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency (H. 4647)

An Act Granting Authority to Postpone 2020 Municipal Elections in the Commonwealth and Increase Voting Options in Response to the Declaration of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19 (S.2608)

An Act Authorizing Waiver of the One Week Waiting Period for Unemployment Benefits (S.2599)

An Act to Expand Take-Out/Delivery Options in Response to COVID-19 (H.4856)


COVID-19 Legislation Awaiting Final Passage


An Act Relative to Long Term Care Facility and Elder Housing COVID-19 Reporting (H.4667)

An Act Addressing Challenges Faced by Food and Beverage Establishments Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic (H.4774)


Other Enacted Laws


An Act Financing the General Governmental Infrastructure of the Commonwealth (H.4932)

An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues (H.3854)

An Act to Mitigate Arbovirus in the Commonwealth (H.4851)

An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell (H.4218)

An Act Relative to Educational Opportunity for Students (S.2412)

An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids (H.3594)

An Act to Support Improved Financial Stability in Higher Education (H.4099)

An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving (H.4203)

An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control (H.4196)

An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in

Minors (H.140)

An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness (H.4210)

An Act Relative to Campaign Finance (H.4223)

An Act Relative to Strengthening the Local and Regional Public Health System (H.4503)

An Act to Protect Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities from Abuse (S.2367)

An Act Financing Improvements to Municipal Roads and Bridges (H.4803)


Other Legislation Awaiting Final Passage


An Act to Reduce Racial Inequities in Maternal Health (H.4818)

An Act to Reform Police Standards and Shift Resources to Build a More Equitable, Fair and Just

Commonwealth that Values Black Lives and Communities of Color (H.4886)

An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth (H.4887)

An Act Authorizing and Accelerating Transportation Investment (H.4547)

An Act Creating a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth (H.4993)

An Act Relative to Transportation Finance (H.4530)

An Act Relative to the Host Community Agreements (H.4367)

An Act relative to GreenWorks (H3997)

HOUSE PASSES CLIMATE CHANGE LEGISLATION, SETS 2050 NET ZERO GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS LIMIT

August 13, 2020

BOSTON – State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House to pass one of the most aggressive climate change bills in the nation. The legislation will require the Commonwealth to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will expand renewable energy options like solar and wind, improve energy efficiency standards, and addresses the needs of environmental justice communities who have been exposed to pollution at disproportionate rates.


“Passing meaningful climate change legislation was one of my priorities this session. This legislation lays out a plan for the state to become energy independent and to greatly reduce our carbon footprint in an equitable way. This bill also creates jobs by expanding our green economy, which is good for residents and our economy. It is a great step in the right direction and I am pleased that it was approved by the House,” said Representative Galvin.


Representative Galvin co-sponsored multiple amendments regarding energy efficiency, environmental justice, gas pipeline safety, and protections for workers in the renewable energy sector.


The legislation includes the following provisions:


· Sets a statewide net zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In addition, sets one of the most ambitious interim limits in the nation for 2030 and 2040 – at 50 percent below 1990 emissions levels and 75 percent below, respectively.

· Upgrades the state’s electricity grid to bring green energy online to power homes and businesses.

· Defines environmental justice populations as those that fit into one of following criteria:

o not more than 65 percent of the statewide annual median household income;

o minorities comprise 40 per cent or more of the population;

o 25 percent or more of households lack English language proficiency; or

o minorities comprise 25 percent or more of the population and the annual median household income of the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150 percent of the statewide annual median household income.

· When affecting environmental justice populations, the legislation requires project developers to incorporate environmental and public health impacts in the planning and development of projects, and improves public participation in the review process.

· Prioritizes incentives that benefit and increase equitable access to low-income and underserved populations in the state’s solar and energy efficiency programs including weatherization and fuel assistance programs.

· Allocates additional funding for clean energy equity workforce programs.

· Incorporates higher energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances, including plumbing, faucets, computers and commercial appliances.

· Increases the required total procurement of offshore wind power by an additional 2,000 megawatts, bringing it to over 5,000 megawatts.

· Adopts several measures aimed at improve gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations and expedited timelines for repairing gas leaks.

· Increases the required minimum percentage of the state’s renewable energy via updates to the Commonwealth’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).


The bill is now in a conference committee, where the House and Senate will work out the differences between their separate climate change bills.


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LEGISLATURE’S FOOD SYSTEM CAUCUS WORKS TO COMBAT FOOD INSECURITY AND SUPPORT THE MASSACHUSETTS’ FOOD SYSTEM DURING PANDEMIC

August 7, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on food security and infrastructure in the Commonwealth. Demand at food banks has skyrocketed and local producers, who once relied on the restaurant industry, struggle to find buyers. As a member of the Food System Caucus (FSC), Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) has been working with his colleagues to combat food insecurity and fortify the Commonwealth’s food infrastructure during this time of hardship. The FSC has 136 members and is the second-largest Caucus in the Legislature


The FSC focuses on food access and insecurity, preserving farmland, and economic development as it relates to the food production industry in the state. These three areas were identified as priorities in the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan accepted by the Massachusetts Food Policy Council in 2015.


 “The FSC has done a lot of work during the pandemic to increase funding for food banks, while aiding local farmers and the fishing industry. As a long time supporter of funding for our local food banks and a strong advocate for the more recent Healthy Incentives Program, I am proud to co-sponsor and support many of the FSC’s priority legislation this session.  This caucus has an important mission that impacts many people across the Commonwealth, especially during these challenging times,” said Representative Galvin.


The FSC has successful advanced several priority pieces of legislation this spring and summer, including House Bill 4218, An Act regarding breakfast after the bell, which was approved by the Legislature on July 28th and was signed into law by Governor Baker last week. H4218 will provide expanded school breakfast options to low-income students. Numerous studies have shown students do better in school if they have access to a healthy breakfast but over 40% of students who qualify for free or reduced meals do not eat breakfast.  This new law will ensure all students have the right start to their school day. 


FSC-endorsed bill S678/H1173, An Act improving public health through a common core application for core food, health, and safety-net programs, was included as an amendment to the IT Bond Bill. Representative Galvin was pleased to co-sponsor the amendment and the stand along bill. This policy will create a common application portal where individuals can provide their data once and apply simultaneously for several benefits, including SNAP. The common app created by this amendment would work to close the SNAP Gap. The legislation is now on Governor Baker’s desk awaiting his signature.


A FSC endorsed amendment secured $1M for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program as part of the House’s Economic Development bill that recently passed. The Mass Food Trust provides critical loans and grants to small businesses and increases access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. This $1M investment will go a long way during the COVID-19 pandemic to support Commonwealth producers and food-insecure residents. It will also help from a public health standpoint, since nutrition-related chronic illnesses serve as comorbidities to COVID-19 and remain the largest cause of preventable death in the U.S.


The FSC has also been working with the COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force. The committee released a report detailing initial recommendations to the Baker-Polito Administration in May. $56M in funding has resulted from the recommendations made by the Task Force and the work of FSC members.


A key initiative to come out of the work of the Task Force is an emphasis on the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). HIP is administered through the MA Department of Transitional Assistance and combats food insecurity and supports local farms by providing one dollar back on SNAP EBT cards for each dollar spent on eligible produce. Thanks to the strong advocacy from organizations like the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative and consistent support from the Legislature, the Baker-Polito Administration has agreed to expand the program to new HIP vendors. The first round of new HIP vendors was announced in late July, and in selecting the 39 new vendors, the Administration focused on low-access areas, paying particular attention to communities of color and older adults- two groups that have been especially impacted by the pandemic. $5M in additional funds has been allocated to support the program’s continued expansion.


The Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program (FSIG) was also created out of the Task Force and is backed by the FSC. The first round of FSIG awards was recently announced, including $3M in grant money distributed to various projects that will reduce food insecurity and fortify the Commonwealth’s food infrastructure. The $3M is the first round of funding to come out of the total $36M program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until September 15th.


The FSC is also focused on assisting the seafood industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic due to its reliance on restaurant buyers. With restaurants closed or operating at limited capacity, the Commonwealth’s seafood industry has lost a significant portion of its business. The soon-to-launch MassGrown Exchange Platform is currently being developed and will serve as a connection between local producers/suppliers such as fisheries and buyers, including food banks. The Seafood Marketing Program has also been launched and supports local projects that raise demand for local seafood by administering grants.


The FSC will continue to host briefings to update the Legislature on food security and infrastructure. These meetings also allow for discussion and collaborative solutions to food insecurity issues that are felt across the Commonwealth. Officials from the Administration, including Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, have also participated in these meetings.


Follow the Food System Caucus on Twitter at @MAafoodcaucus and visit the official website at https://www.mafoodsystemcaucus.com/.

HOUSE PASSES JOBS BILL TO SPUR ECONOMY AMID PANDEMIC; BOLD BILL WILL INVEST IN HOUSING AND LEGALIZE SPORTS BETTING

August 7, 2020

(BOSTON) – Faced with an economy buffeted by COVID-19, State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) joined his colleagues in the House to pass a bill to bolster the state’s economy by legalizing sports gaming, facilitating housing development, and providing more than $450 million in state funding to spur growth.

“This bill tackles two major issues- housing and economic development. I am hopeful this legislation will provide much needed relief for families who are overburdened with the cost of housing and small business owners who are struggling during this pandemic. This legislation is the bold action we need to keep out economy moving forward during this challenging time. I am also pleased that my amendment providing $100,000 to Canton’s Housing Authority was also included,” said Representative Galvin.


The legislation provides $35 million for small business loans for underserved populations, $15 million to assist microbusinesses, $10 million to aid manufacturers and $5 for broadband grants in Western Massachusetts. Another $30 million was also included to fund PPP loans to businesses that didn’t receive federal assistance, with an emphasis on businesses owned by veterans, women, and minorities. These monies will be administered and distributed by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC). MGCC and MTC are state organizations tasked with increasing jobs and economic opportunities for the state.


The bill also establishes the Rural Jobs Tax Credit for businesses that make a capital contribution to a rural growth fund, which will be established within the Office of Business Development. It allows for the creation of Tourism Destination Marketing Districts, which, following local approval, can add an additional 2% surcharge on room occupancy taxes to fund tourism marketing activities within these districts. The legislation also creates a Cultural Council Recovery Commission to review and develop recommendations for the recovery, promotion and continued growth and vitality of the cultural and creative sector in the commonwealth.

Another focus of the legislation is to encourage new housing construction. The bill pairs initiatives to improve the housing market for buyers while providing protections for tenants. It authorizes the Housing Choice concept, reducing the voting requirement for a range of housing-related zoning changes and special permits at the local level, from a two-thirds threshold to a simple majority. The legislation also creates a local option for the tenant right to purchase/first right of refusal to purchase buildings landlords put up for sale, increases the low-income housing tax credit from $20 million to $40 million, and requires the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to notify tenants they have a right to mediation with landlords prior to the eviction process. 

This legislation invests $50 million in high-density mixed income transit oriented housing, $10 million in climate resilient housing construction, and $40 million for neighborhood stabilization and preservation. Additionally, legislation provides $10 million for rural development grants, $40 million for the redevelopment of blighted or abandoned properties, $15 million to speed up development projects, and $5 million for technical assistance to support locally driven development. The bill would also provide $15M for Trial Courts to improve Virtual Mediations in housing related cases.

Sports gaming would also be legalized in Massachusetts under this bill. The legislation establishes an independent Massachusetts Gaming Commission to grant in-person licenses to existing casinos and racing facilities. Mobile applications and casinos are also eligible to receive mobile gaming licenses. In addition to licensing fees, the state will receive 15% of all sports betting proceeds -- $50 million annually -- (with an additional 1% for games played in Massachusetts going to a fund to ensure the integrity of the game.) The proceeds will be distributed in the following fashion:

·     40% to a workforce development fund for at-risk youth in low-income/minority communities

·     30% to a Distressed Restaurant Fund that would help over 1,000 restaurants pay for things like rent, payroll, and PPE for a period of two years

·     10% to Youth Development Initiatives (raised to 25% after January 2023), including scholarships and after-School programs

·     10% to Local Aid (raised to 25% after January 2023)

·     9% to Public Health, including Gaming Addiction

·     1% to a Player’s Benevolent fund to pay for local player connected charity foundations.


"With the passage of this bill, the Commonwealth stands ready to buttress important sectors of our economy such as the restaurant, arts, culture and tourism industries that have been most adversely affected by Covid-19; it gives many displaced workers an opportunity to rejoin the Massachusetts workforce,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies (D-Gloucester).

"This economic development bill makes smart and strategic investments in affordable housing production throughout the Commonwealth. During the era of COVID-19, the need for safe and stable housing has never been so important,” said Representative Kevin Honan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing (D-Boston). “The investments provided in this bill will create new affordable housing units through the low income housing tax credit, provide necessary funds to rehabilitate blighted buildings, invest in critically needed housing near transit, make it easier for communities who want to build new housing to do so, and so much more."

The bill is now in conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. 

LEGISLATURE EXPANDS OPTIONS FOR VOTERS

July 10, 2020

The Massachusetts Legislature approved legislation that expands voter access and ensures voters have safe voting options during the COVID-19 pandemic for all remaining 2020 elections, including the September 1, 2020 state primary and November 3, 2020 general election. The legislation, for the first time in state history, establishes a vote-by-mail option and early voting period for the upcoming fall elections. In addition to those options, the bill also addresses polling place safety for those who choose to cast their ballots in person. 


“I was pleased to co-sponsor and vote for this legislation,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “This law ensures that all voters will have the ability to vote in the upcoming elections, despite the COVID pandemic”.


The state secretary will send an application for a mail-in ballot to all registered voters.  The application will contain a pre-paid return envelope. Residents will receive their application around mid-July for the primary and must submit their application by August 26th. The secretary will send a second application in September for voters wishing to vote by mail for the general election.  That application must be submitted by October 28th.


The town clerk will then mail a ballot with return postage pre-paid to voters who apply. Voters may return their ballot by mail, in a drop box, or in person. Voters have until the polls close on election day to submit their ballots.


Voters can still vote in person. Early voting was expanded to alleviate crowds on election day. Voters will have a 7 day window starting in late August to vote in person for the primary and will have a 14 day window to vote in person for the general election starting in late October.


Acknowledging the increased burden these options may place on municipalities and clerks, the bill also provides for several accommodations to make the logistics of processing votes easier. The legislation allows for tabulating ballots prior to election day, and it offers pre-addressed envelopes to voters, so their applications go directly to their clerk’s office.  Additionally, The bill requires the state secretary to conduct a public awareness campaign to inform and notify voters of the many options available to cast a vote in the upcoming elections.


The bill was signed into law by Governor Baker on July 6th.

HOUSE PASSES BILL TO ADDRESS RACIAL INEQUITIES IN MATERNAL HEALTH;  
COMMISSION WILL TARGET MATERNAL MORTALITY AND MORBIDITY

July 3, 2020

(BOSTON)- The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently approved multiple bills at a remote Formal Session. Two of the bills approved address maternal health inequities and provide funding for municipally owned roads and bridges.

An Act to reduce racial inequities in maternal health will create a special legislative commission that will investigate racial inequities in healthcare for pregnant women of color and make recommendations to improve care. The 25-member commission will gather information and report on barriers to equitable maternal care and best practices for remedying inequities.

“We must continue to address and correct racial disparities in society. It is unconscionable that women of color in Massachusetts die of pregnancy related complications at more than double the rate of white women. This is crucial legislation and I am proud to support it,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).

 The Commission will look at accessibility and affordability of birthing centers, maternal medical homes, doula care, prenatal care, and portpartum care. The Commission will examine how historical and current structural, institutional, and individual forms of racism affect maternal mortality.  The Commission is tasked with making recommendations for solutions to these various issues, including improving the cultural competency of health care providers in Massachusetts.  This legislation is now before the Senate for consideration.


The House also approved $200 million for Chapter 90 funding, which goes directly to cities and towns. It is estimated Avon will receive $184,974, Canton will receive $ 766,358, and Stoughton will receive $773, 954.

Chapter 90 is a formula that is based on a community’s population, employment, and total road miles. The funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including road resurfacing, sidewalks, street lighting, traffic control measures, and roadside drainage. Municipalities can also use the money to purchase or lease equipment and tools used for road projects. The Governor signed this legislation into law on July 2nd.


HOUSE PASSES MEASURE TO PROVIDE MORE THAN $1 BILLION IN FEDERAL REIMBURSEMENT FOR COVID-19 NEEDS

June 26, 2020

BOSTON – This week the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a supplemental budget to assist in the fight against COVID-19. The bill will fund personal protective equipment, field hospitals, and contact tracing. This legislation follows the April passage in Congress of the Federal Cares Act, which reimburses states for the cost of items related to COVID-19 efforts.


The legislation provides $350 million for personal protective equipment, $85 million for field hospitals and shelters, $44 million for community tracing, $81.6 million for child care needs during the pandemic, and $20 million to address racial disparities in COVID care. Funding will also be used to fight food insecurity, aid human service workers, and provide emergency housing.


A successful amendment to the legislation makes Juneteenth an official state holiday in Massachusetts. Juneteenth marks the day that the last enslaved African Americans in the United States were emancipated in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865.


“I was proud to co-sponsor and vote for the amendment that makes Juneteenth an official state holiday. This day deserves to be officially recognized,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


 In addition to the Juneteenth amendment, Representative Galvin co-sponsored two other successful amendments to the supplemental budget.  The amendments increase funding for the Health Incentives Program (HIP), which connects food insecure residents with Massachusetts’ farmers, and a COVID-19 surveillance-testing program for nursing homes. 


The bill now moves to the Senate.


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HOUSE PASSES BILL TO SUPPORT COMMONWEALTH’S RESTAURANTS, PUSHES FOR THE RELEASE OF MORE COVID DATA

June 5, 2020

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a legislation package to help restaurants weather the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation eases outdoor dining restrictions, expands alcohol delivery options to include mixed drinks, waives interest on late meals tax payments until December, and caps the amount that can be charged by food delivery services.


“Restaurants are essential to our local economy and they have been hit hard during the pandemic. These policy changes will allow restaurants to operate safely during these uncertain times and will provide more avenues for them to reach more customers during the pandemic,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


This legislation will allow municipalities to suspend some local zoning laws so restaurants can expand their outdoor seating areas. It will streamline the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) approval process for restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages outside by waiving the approval of these licenses. Instead, it only requires restaurants to notify and place on file with the ABCC their outdoor seating plan. Restaurants will also be able to include cocktails to-go with take-out food until February 2020. Finally, it caps commissions on on-line restaurant delivery at 15% across the board so that these apps can continue to operate without placing an undue burden on our restaurants. Some restaurants were reporting charges as high as 30% from some food delivery services.


The House recently repurposed its Restaurant Promotion Commission to become the Restaurant Recovery Commission. The House will continue to develop policy changes to help small businesses recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.


The Legislature also approved a bill to make more information about COVID-19 cases publicly available, including cases at elder care facilities, soldiers’ homes, and houses of correction. It also creates a task force to provide recommendations on how to mitigate health disparities for underrepresented and underserved communities in the wake of the pandemic.


This legislation will provide the public with a greater understanding on how the virus is affecting those in locations hardest hit by the pandemic, including elder care facilities and urban areas. The task force, in turn, will make recommendations to alleviate disparities in infection and treatment among populations disproportionally impacted by the outbreak.


The restaurant recovery bill is currently before the Senate for its consideration and the public data bill is before the Governor for his approval.


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HOUSE PASSES BOND BILL TO STRENGTHEN STATE’S IT INFRASTRUCTURE

May 20, 2020

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved legislation authorizing up to $1.7 billion in spending for the improvement of information technology equipment and related projects in Massachusetts.  The IT financing package includes $40 million for education grants to public schools to enhance remote learning, $41 million for food infrastructure and security, and $5 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) filed multiple successful amendments to address the technological needs of Avon, Canton, and Stoughton. The amendments Representative Galvin filed include:

- $100,000 for the Town of Avon to address IT security and redundancy concerns;
- $50,000 for Avon to improve their fiber network and connect it to utilities;
- $30,000 for the Avon Police Department for crime control and prevention software;
- $30,000 for the Avon Fire Department for cyber security and information technology upgrades;
-$148,000 for the Town of Canton to make IT upgrades;
- $87,000 for the Canton Public Library to purchase laptops, cameras, and a new server;
- $90,000 for the Canton Police Department to upgrade their radio system;
- $144,000 for the Canton Fire Department to purchase new radios;
- $61,000 for the Town of Stoughton to upgrade technology in the conference room at town hall to live stream meetings;
- $43,000 for the Town of Stoughton to upgrade technology in the conference room at the library to live stream meetings;
- $30,000 for the Stoughton Fire Department for IT upgrades;
- $32,868 for the Stoughton Police Department to upgrading mobile equipment, including cameras, that are essential to their Detective and Patrol Divisions.


“This legislation has been in the works for over a year, but this crisis has really highlighted the importance of reliable IT infrastructure for residents, schools, public safety, our communities, and for our state agencies,” said Representative Galvin.


This legislation will also provide $10 million for Community Health Centers and $100 million for capital projects at Health and Human Services facilities to better address the needs of residents throughout the pandemic. $30 million was included for municipal grants for proper safety equipment for first responders. Additionally, this bill funds grants to cities and towns for a number of needs, including expanded access to broadband and ADA compliance.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

HOUSE PASSES BILL TO PROVIDE VOTING OPTIONS AMID PANDEMIC

June 4th, 2020

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to allow a number of voting options for the autumn elections, including early voting by mail, in the midst of COVID-19. Under the provisions of the bill, voters can elect to vote-by-mail, submit an absentee ballot, vote early in-person, or vote on Election Day with public health safeguards in place.

“I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation and to join my colleagues in voting for it,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “We have seen the difficulties people have had in other states trying to vote during the pandemic. Voters shouldn’t need to choose between their health and casting a vote. This legislation ensures everyone can safely vote, which maintains the integrity of our democratic process”.

The bill to expand voting options in response to COVID-19 has the following provisions:

EARLY VOTING BY MAIL APPLICATION

  • Requires the Secretary of State to mail all registered voters an application to vote early by mail in advance of the primary and general elections (by July 15 for the primary and September 14 for the general);

  • Asks voters to apply by seven days prior to the primary and general elections;

  • Allows for electronic signature and submission of applications.

EARLY VOTING BY MAIL

  • The city or town clerk will mail an early voting by mail ballot and an envelope with return postage pre-paid to voters who apply;

  • Allows voters to return their early voting by mail ballot in the mail, secure drop box, or in person.

ABSENTEE VOTING

  • Provides for absentee voting by any person taking precaution related to COVID-19;

  • Allows electronic signature and submission of absentee voting applications.

IN PERSON VOTING PUBLIC HEALTH SAFEGUARDS

  • Requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, to promulgate emergency regulations requiring public health safeguards for in-person voting, including social distancing of voters and election officers; face coverings and personal protective equipment; frequent use of sanitizers; and sanitary use of marking pens.

EARLY VOTING IN PERSON

  • Provides for 7 days of in person early voting in the primary—from Saturday, August 22 to Friday, August 28—including one weekend – and 14 days of in person early voting in the general—from Saturday, October 17 to Friday, October 30—including two weekends.

ELECTION DAY

  • Permits voters to still cast a ballot at the polls on election day.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

  • Provides for early voting by mail for any city or town elections held at the same time as the primary or general or on or before December 31, 2020.


An Act Relative To Voting Options In Response To COVID-19 now moves to the Senate.


HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO ENSURE THE FISCAL HEALTH OF THE COMMONWEALTH

April 8, 2020

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives made history last Wednesday when representatives voted remotely for the first time during a formal session.  A handful of representatives attended the session in Boston to help facilitate proceedings, while the majority of legislators watched session by streaming a live feed on the legislative website and voted by phone. The House approved legislation to authorize necessary state borrowing during the COVID-19 public health emergency.


The Massachusetts House has approved a number of COVID-19 related bills during the public health emergency by holding informal sessions, which allows the passage of legislation without a vote of the entire House. It wasn’t possible to pass the borrowing bill at an informal session because borrowing bills require a vote by the entire body.


“The House Chamber at the State House is not large enough for all 160 state representatives to attend session and social distance.  The remote session ran smoothly overall and I am pleased we were able to approve this critical legislation so quickly,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


The legislation, An Act to Facilitate the Delay of the Income Tax Filing Deadline, authorizes the State Treasurer to borrow money to close a funding gap that was created by extending the deadline for income tax filings and payments to July 15th.  The tax deadline was extended to help residents during the public health emergency and mirrors the federal tax deadline extension.  Unlike the federal government, the Massachusetts FY20 budget ends on June 30th and the state cannot end the year with a deficit. The State will have one year to pay back the loan.


"In the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Legislature, working closely with the Baker Administration, passed legislation that moved the income tax filing deadline for residents of the Commonwealth. While this step helped thousands of people have more time to prepare their tax returns, it created a serious cash flow problem for the State,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “By passing this legislation we will ensure that the fiscal health of the Commonwealth remains strong and that we are able to maintain the services that our constituents rely upon each and every day.”


The bill will now go to the Senate.

LEGISLATURE APPROVES BILL ALLOWING CITIES AND TOWNS TO RESCHEDULE LOCAL ELECTIONS, ALLOWS RESIDENTS TO VOTE BY MAIL

March 23, 2020

The Legislature approved a bill that will allow municipalities to postpone their local elections. Below are some of the highlights:
- Elections can be postponed but must be held before June 30th, 2020.
- Voters will be able to register to vote up to ten days before the the new election date.
- If voters feel uncomfortable going to the polls, they will be able to vote early by mail by requesting a ballot from their town clerk.
- Communities will be able to use ballots that have already been printed, despite having the wrong date. This will allow towns to conserve resources.

MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE APPROVES HOUSING, NOTARY BILLS AMID COVID-19 

April 24, 2020

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Legislature recently enacted legislation to assist residents during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.  These measures include protecting residents from losing their homes due to nonpayment and permits virtual notarization services. The House of Representatives also passed legislation that mandates data reporting at long-term care facilities.


“We are living in an unprecedented era. I am pleased we were able to approve these housing protections so quickly.  These temporary regulations will help families, vulnerable individuals, and small businesses during this uncertain and difficult time,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


The housing legislation will provide a critical safety net for renters, homeowners, and small businesses grappling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus public health emergency. Housing advocates, including the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, are calling the new law, “the strongest eviction and foreclosure moratorium in the country”.


The legislation prohibits non-essential evictions for residential properties and small businesses. Residential landlords cannot terminate tenancies or send a notice to quit. Landlords are also prohibited from issuing late fees or reports to credit agencies for nonpayment of rent, provided the tenant offers notice and documentation to the landlord within 30 days of the missed rent payment that the non-payment was related to a financial impact from COVID-19.


Evictions may proceed during the moratorium for actions that involve allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that are detrimental to public health. Landlords may also use a tenant’s last month rent for expenses like mortgages payments and property maintenance, while protecting tenant rights regarding rent paid in advance.


Foreclosures are also prohibited under this law and mortgage lenders must grant a forbearance of up to 180-days on required mortgage payments. Homeowners must submit a request demonstrating financial hardship as result of COVID-19 to their lender.


The moratorium is in place for all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes for 120 days from the enactment of the legislation or 45 days after the State of Emergency has been lifted; whichever period of time is shorter.


The Legislature also passed legislation authorizing notary publics to remotely perform notary services during the public health emergency using electronic video conferencing. The regulations allow remote notarizations of wills, mortgages, nomination of guardian or conservator, caregiver authorization affidavit, trust, durable power of attorney, or health care proxy. This bill is currently before Governor Baker for his signature.


The Massachusetts House of Representatives also created regulations that require long-term care facilities to report and track COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities during the public health emergency. The facilities must report COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities to local departments of health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and to the families and guardians of residents on a daily basis. DPH will make the data publicly available on its website, which will also be updated daily. This bill is currently pending before the Senate.

BILL SITS DOWN WITH CANTON COMMUNITY TV TO DISCUSS COVID-19

July 12, 2025

Bill recently spoke with Canton Community TV about the State's response to COVID-19. 

https://vimeo.com/user5033906

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE APPROVES BOND BILL FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE

March 4, 2020

(BOSTON)- State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton), joined his colleagues in approving an $18 Billion Transportation Bond package. The legislation provides for improvements to roads, bridges, the MBTA, and Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs).


Representative Galvin filed several successful amendments that were incorporated into the final version of the House bill. The Representative secured $300 million for the reconfiguration of the I-95/I-93 interchange in Canton, $5 million for improvements to the structure at Canton Junction to make it more user friendly, $15 million for repairs to 139 in Stoughton, $500,000 to install infrared heaters at the Stoughton and Canton train stations to keep commuters warm in adverse weather, and $1.6 million for improvements for roads, sidewalks, and traffic signals in Avon.


“The I-95/I-93 interchange project has been discussed since the 1970s. The poorly designed hairpin turns cause accidents and delays. A reconstructed interchange will not only decrease traffic on 95 and 93, but will also ease some congestion in Stoughton and Canton caused by cars using local roads to avoid the mess on 95 and 93,” said Representative Galvin.


The redesign of the interchange also has environmental benefits.  The most significant is that the project opens up over 30 acres of land, which will become green space at the base of the Blue Hills Reservation.  The project includes a bike path to connect University Station to the Blue Hills Reservation and businesses on Royall Street, allowing people to commute by bike and rail. There will be less vehicles idling in traffic, which will help to reduce carbon emissions. 


“Our roads and rail system need to be upgraded. Transportation is one of the biggest issues I hear about and the frustration of commuting into Boston is something I experience, too. Massachusetts should be a great place to work and live, and these infrastructure projects will certainly help. These projects will also ensure our state continues to be competitive economically,” said Representative Galvin.


The House also approved legislation that will provide up to $600 million annually in revenue enhancements to pay for infrastructure improvements.  This legislation includes a provision that adds two seats to the MBTA’s Fiscal Control Board.  The seats are reserved for a member from Boston and from one other community that receives MBTA service.  These seats are an effort to increase municipal input on the Board.  Additionally, the bill establishes an 11-member commission of outside experts to study the effectiveness of congestion pricing and tolling systems in alleviating traffic.

HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES LEGISLATION TO HELP PROTECT PERSONS WITH INTELLECTUAL OR DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES FROM HARM

January 30, 2020

BOSTON – State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives to unanimously pass legislation that will protect disabled individuals from abuse. The bill requires the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DCCP) to maintain a registry of care providers who have a history of intentionally causing harm to individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability.


 “I was pleased to vote for this vital legislation that will protect individuals who may be unable to protect themselves,” said Representative Galvin.  “The fact that the bill was approved with the full support of the House speaks to the importance of this legislation”.


The bill requires care provider employers to check the registry prior to hiring or retaining any person as a care provider and prevents employers from hiring or retaining any provider who appears on the registry.  Those employers include those with Department of Developmental Services (DDS) licenses for day services, those that have contracts with DDS, and those receiving funding from DDS.  Under the bill, DCCP will impose monetary fines or other penalties on any employer that fails to comply.


The legislation also includes due process protections for care providers. Individuals will only be added to the registry after the DCCP makes a final decision regarding “substantial findings” of acts resulting in physical abuse, emotional harm, or financial extortion.


The legislation builds on ongoing increased support for those departments serving adults and children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. From 2012 to 2020, DPPC funding has increased by 93 percent.

HOUSE PASSES HISTORIC EDUCATION FUNDING BILL

October 25, 2019

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed landmark legislation that updates the funding formula for Massachusetts schools in an effort to close the opportunity gap. The legislation also pledges $1.5 billion in new funding for public education. This will allow the state to increase funding for school guidance and psychological services, school building construction and renovation, special education instruction and transportation, and educational programs for English Language Learners.  The legislation also fully funds charter school tuition reimbursements, which provide transitional aid to help districts when students leave to attend charter schools.  


“This legislation will help school systems across the state improve outcomes for all students.  Massachusetts is home to the best public schools in the nation, but school districts need additional resources to close the persistent achievement gap. This legislation couples new investments with policy updates that will ensure the equitable distribution of resources, monitor and measure progress, and support innovative approaches to closing opportunity gaps,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


In addition to adding $1.4 billion in education funding over the next seven years, this legislation makes changes to the Foundation Budget Formula based on recommendations made by the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). This includes increasing special education enrollment and cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment and expenditures, estimates school district expenditures for employee healthcare by using up-to-date data from the state’s Group Insurance Commission, and increases funding for English learners (EL) that is differentiated by grade level to reflect the greater resources required to educate older EL students.

The legislation also addresses the needs of districts educating high concentrations of low-income students by providing additional funding based on the share of low-income students in each district. Districts educating the largest percentage of low-income students will receive an additional increment equal to 100% of the base foundation. The state will also revert to the definition of “low-income” as 185% of the Federal Poverty Level, as opposed to the 133% level that has been used in recent years. The final recommendation adopted will improve data collection and reporting, specifically around use of funding, by establishing a Data Advisory Commission.  The commission will collect data at the state, district, and school levels to inform strategies that strengthen teaching, learning and resource allocation to ensure greater financial transparency, including tracking funding for low-income students and English learners.


 A new grant program was also created under this legislation. The 21st Century Trust Fund will provide grant funding to districts and schools pursuing innovative approaches to student learning. Additionally, school districts will be required to publish their plans for closing gaps in student performance and requires the Secretary of Education to collect and publish data on student preparedness in each district and high school for post-graduate success.

HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES $1.3 BILLION FOR COMMUNITY CLIMATE RESILIENCY PROJECTS

July 26, 2020

(BOSTON) – The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation that invests $1.3 billion to help municipalities across Massachusetts fund environmentally friendly infrastructure projects that will lower greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation establishes a GreenWorks grant program that will disperse funds to cities and towns over the next ten years.


“We are already seeing the effects of climate change in Massachusetts.  This grant program will allow cities and towns to prepare for these changes and will help them reduce their carbon footprint,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


Modeled after the state’s MassWorks program, GreenWorks will fund projects that improve climate preparedness and resiliency, promote or produce clean energy or energy efficiency, build energy storage facilities, implement measures included in Massachusetts’ statewide climate adaptation strategy or otherwise help mitigate the impacts of climate change or reduce carbon emissions.


The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will accept applications annually and administer the $1 billion program, which will be funded through the issuance of bonds.  In addition, the legislation makes targeted investments of $325 million in energy infrastructure, including:


·     $100 million for investments in municipal microgrid energy systems

·     $125 million for electric vehicles in municipal or regional transit authority fleets

·     $20 million for the hiring of sustainability coordinators to develop and manage municipal projects resulting for the GreenWorks program

·     $50 million to establish the Green Resiliency Fund to offer low-interest loans for municipalities when pursuing GreenWorks projects

·     $30 million for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ MOR-EV electric vehicle rebate program


The bill will now go to the Senate for approval.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS A LIVELY START TO THE 2019 – 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

March 27, 2019

(BOSTON) – The Massachusetts House of Representatives began their new session by approving three major pieces of legislation. Bills dealing with “conversion therapy”, women’s health funding, and Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) all passed with a large consensus.


“All three of these bills create policies designed to help Massachusetts residents. I am optimistic that we will continue to have a productive session,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).


Conversion therapy uses shame, self-loathing, hypnotism, and punishing aversive condition techniques that range from nausea to electric shocks in an attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This legislation would prohibit mental health and human service professionals from using these controversial methods on minors. These approaches are emotionally and psychologically traumatizing for any individual, but it is particularly difficult for adolescents, who are in a vulnerable stage in their lives.  Minors subjected to conversion therapy experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, and suicide.


Conversion therapy practices are refuted by the nation’s leading professional health care associations.  Similar laws have been enacted in other states and the ban is supported by The American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the American Psychological Association, conversion therapy “may pose serious risk of harm,” such as “confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, and suicidality”.


Violation of this new law would result in a healthcare provider being subject to discipline from their appropriate licensing board, including suspension or revocation of their license. This bill does not place any prohibition on faith-based counseling. 


The second major initiative to pass the House makes $8 million available to women’s reproductive health organizations in Massachusetts over the next two years to offset the loss of federal funding through the Trump Administration’s “gag rule” changes to the Title X program. The House approved the measure by an overwhelming vote of 139 to 14.


The Title X program provides healthcare for clients who are 250% below the federal poverty level.  These services include physical exams, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, education, counseling, and family planning services.  75,000 Massachusetts residents access these services at clinics funded through Title X.


The House also voted to lift a decades-old cap on Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC). TAFDC is a temporary assistance program designed to help families survive difficult financial situations. The so-called “family cap” prevented families who are receiving TAFDC benefits from seeking additional assistance if they have any additional children. Lifting the cap will extend cash benefits to an estimated 8,700 Massachusetts children and their families.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE BILL GALVIN REAPPOINTED AS RULES COMMITTEE CHAIR; HOUSE PASSES $135 MILLION SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET WITH HEATING ASSISTANCE, HOMELESS SHELTERS AMONG KEY INITIATIVES FUNDED

March 5, 2019

(BOSTON) – State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) was reappointed as the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules for the 2019 – 2020 legislative session. The Rules Committee admits all late filed bills for consideration by the House, files orders for debate, drafts the House Rules that dictate legislative procedures and operations of the House, and appoints House Counsel, the House’s Human Resources Director, and the House Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.

“I am honored to again serve as the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules. It is important work and I am grateful to my colleagues for placing their trust in me to continue these efforts,” said Representative Galvin.

In addition to making committee appointments, the House held a Formal Session to approve a supplemental budget. The spending bill totaling $135 million highlights the House’s ongoing commitment in supporting critical social service investments while balancing fiscal prudence; this practice has resulted in Massachusetts prioritizing its most vulnerable residents while maintaining a strong and diverse economy. The budget provides funding for numerous initiatives, including $10 million in emergency funding to aid homeless families and $8 million to help address the backlog of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits.

The supplemental budget also contains $30 million for heating assistance. Heating assistance programs in Massachusetts currently help 160,000 eligible households pay for winter heating bills. The majority of households receiving fuel assistance are families with children, seniors, and veterans.  Federal funding for heating assistance in Massachusetts has steadily dropped over the past few years from $200 million to $136 million, while the program has seen an increase in requests for assistance. 

“This legislation funds critical investments that the Commonwealth needs in order to continue to provide the services that our constituents so dearly rely upon,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston).

The supplemental budget passed the House 154 – 0.