INVESTING IN OUR COMMONWEALTH
During the 192nd legislative session, the Senate worked diligently to provide for COVID-19 recovery and to support all residents of our Commonwealth. In addition to passing a $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 and a $52.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023, the Legislature passed a $4 billion omnibus spending package utilizing federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and surplus funds from Fiscal Year 2021. This spending package delivered targeted support to workers and businesses, as well as housing, health care, mental and behavioral health, climate preparedness, education, and workforce development, with a focus on making equitable investments and prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In addition, the Legislature passed several supplemental budgets to provide for the continued operation of the Commonwealth and focused support for programs in need of additional funding.
- Fiscal Year 2022 Budget
- Investing in communities hit hard by COVID-19 and supporting the ongoing economic recovery through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 surplus spending
- Fiscal Year 2023 Budget
When the 192nd legislative session began in January of 2021, we were still in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, the Senate has passed several measures to help support our communities, small businesses, workers, and healthcare system.
- Guaranteeing COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to workers and avoiding drastic unemployment insurance (UI) rate increases for employers
- Extending critical protections instituted during the COVID-19 State of Emergency
- Extending COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave for workers
ACTIVE MILITARY & VETERANS
In the wake of the tragic deaths of 77 veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature passed a $600 million bond bill to support the construction of a new Soldiers’ Home and to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services in small home concept housing for veterans across the state. Additionally, the Legislature enacted changes to the oversight of both Soldiers’ Homes to ensure better outcomes for our veterans going forward. Finally, for our active-duty military, the SPEED Act helped to facilitate a smooth transition for military members and their families who move to Massachusetts.
- An Act financing the reconstruction of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke
- Restructuring the chain of command at Holyoke and Chelsea and improving oversight to prevent future tragedy
- Supporting veterans and military families
EQUITY, ACCESS & INCLUSION
Throughout the 192nd session, the Senate advanced several pieces of legislation to increase equity, access and inclusion in the Commonwealth. I am very proud that the Legislature enacted my bills to create a Women’s Rights History Trail in Massachusetts, and to establish the third Saturday in July as Negro Election Day. The Legislature also passed bills to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles by incorporating hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyle into the definition of race in the Massachusetts General Laws
- Honoring Black History by establishing Negro Election Day
- Creating a Women’s Rights History Trail in Massachusetts
- Preventing discrimination against natural and protective hairstyles through the CROWN Act
- Creating a non-binary option on driver’s licenses and birth certificates
- Removing anti-LGBTQIA+ laws and establishing a permanent commission to recommend outdated legislation for repeal
The Legislature has continued to fully fund the Student Opportunity Act, which passed in 2019, to ensure public schools have adequate resources for high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. During the 192nd session, the Senate advanced legislation to expand access to affordable early education and care, ensure today’s students are educated on the history of genocide and human rights, and to provide greater access to free breakfast and lunch for students.
- Senate passes transformational bill to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and child care
- Promoting student nutrition through increased access to school meals
- Educating students on genocide and human rights
HEALTH CARE & PUBLIC HEALTH
Increasing access to health care has long been a priority of the Senate. In the 192nd session we reaffirmed that commitment by passing comprehensive legislation addressing barriers to mental and behavioral health care, lowering the cost of prescription medications, and increasing access to postpartum care for new parents. In addition, the Legislature enacted a bill to better support our local and regional public health system, upon which we greatly depended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Addressing barriers to care through the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0
- Ensuring that life-saving medications are affordable, fairly priced and accessible for all consumers through the PACT Act 2022
- Providing free menstrual products in public places
- Addressing the crisis in maternal health outcomes
- Strengthening our local public health services
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB CREATION & WORKERS’ RIGHTS
As the Commonwealth’s economy continues to rebound from pandemic closures, the Legislature’s commitment to supporting businesses, workers, and the overall health of our economy endures. In July of 2022, the Legislature enacted sports betting legislation to allow Massachusetts residents to place wagers on professional and most college sports, which the Governor signed on August 11, 2022. In addition, the Legislature included many key spending provisions to support small businesses and invest in our workforce.
- Legalizing sports betting
- Supporting economic recovery and workforce development in the ARPA spending package
CHILDREN, FAMILIES & PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Throughout the 192nd legislative session, the Senate took steps to assist children and families, particularly with relation to adoptees and those in the care and protection of the Department of Children and Families. I am proud to have filed legislation that was enacted to increase access to kinship adoption, and I was honored to advance legislation to give adoptees access to their original birth certificates. Finally, the Senate passed legislation I filed to update the reporting requirements for the Department of Children and Families to ensure accountability and transparency.
- Increasing access to kinship adoptions
- Giving adoptees access to their original birth certificates
- Ensuring stability and oversight of care for children involved with the Department of Children and Families
Lack of affordable housing continues to be one of the most pressing issues in our Commonwealth. Throughout the pandemic, the Legislature has provided increased funding for rental assistance and other programs to support tenants and landlords. In addition, during the 192nd session the Senate passed a bill to allow those experiencing homelessness to get a State ID without providing a permanent access. Without an ID, individuals cannot apply for jobs, enroll in school, access government buildings, open financial accounts, and more.
With worsening storms and climbing temperatures, it is clear the climate crisis is more pressing than ever. The Legislature acted last session to pass two substantial climate packages to set key emissions and clean energy goals, expand offshore wind, and address emissions in the transportation and building sectors.
- Nation-leading Next Generation Climate Roadmap
- Bolstering green transportation, green buildings, and clean power production
To support the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure, last session the Legislature passed two bond bills to provide funding for improvements to roads and bridges, and our public transportation system. The Legislature’s annual Chapter 90 funding bill, which provides funding for municipalities to address their local transportation needs, authorized $350 million in funding, including $200 million for municipalities. At the end of July of 2022, the Legislature passed a bond bill authorizing $11.3 billion in spending for transportation and infrastructure projects, including $400 million for the MBTA to address ongoing safety concerns.
- Investing in our local transportation systems
- Supporting transportation and infrastructure in our Commonwealth
ELECTION SAFETY, INTEGRITY & ACCESS
In June of 2022, the Legislature enacted the VOTES Act, which permanently codifies the popular mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020, increases ballot access for voters with disabilities and service members overseas, and takes steps to modernize the Commonwealth’s election administration process. At a time when democracy is under attack across the United States and across the globe, the VOTES Act implemented vital measures to protect and expand voting rights here in Massachusetts.
As an animal lover, I am proud the Senate took steps throughout the 192nd session to further protect our furry friends by passing several pieces of key legislation. This included legislation that encouraged research facilities that use dogs and cats to offer these animals up for adoption after finishing research, rather than automatically euthanizing them. This bill, which I was proud to co-sponsor and help advance, was signed by the Governor on August 8, 2022. In addition, the Senate passed legislation to ensure the safety of puppies and kittens during breeding, sale and boarding, and to discourage the illegal hunting and sale of game animals, including endangered species.