Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District


November 21, 2019

Senate Passes Major Bills to Improve Public Safety, Education and Environment

BOSTON — On Wednesday and Thursday, the Massachusetts State Senate passed key legislation that will improve public education, and make environmental and public health enhancements to increase the safety and quality-of-life of all Massachusetts residents.

“I am proud to vote with my colleagues to pass major legislation, including three of my top priority cosponsored bills,” said State Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “I am thrilled that efforts will be made to improve the health and safety of all Massachusetts residents.”

Both chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature unanimously voted to enact the Student Opportunity Act, providing $1.5 billion of new investment in the Massachusetts K-12 public education system to ensure school districts have the resources to provide high quality education to students across the state. This legislation updates the existing funding formula and invests in important education aid programs such as transportation, school construction and renovation and special education. Senator Lovely serves as the Senate Vice Chair of the Education Committee. The bill now goes before the governor.

The Senate and House of Representatives also passed legislation supporting the health and wellness of children across the Commonwealth. The effort seeks to create a foundation for better access to behavioral health services and accrued data to create future policy to protect children. Senator Lovely cosponsored the bill, which included her provisions to extend the child sexual abuse prevention working group and to convene a commission to update the child abuse and neglect mandated reporting statute. The bill now goes to the governor.

Both branches passed legislation to ban drivers from using hand-held electronic devices in vehicles while driving, unless they are in hands-free mode, defined as engaging in voice communication with and receiving audio without touching, holding or otherwise manually manipulation a mobile electronic device. Law enforcement officials will issue warnings to drivers for first offenses of the new law until March 31, 2020. This bill, also cosponsored by Senator Lovely, requires the state to publish and analyze traffic stop data annually, which will improve transparency in public safety. This bill was laid on the governor’s desk.

The Senate passed another bill cosponsored by Senator Lovely to implement a statewide ban of single-use plastic bags at retail stores. A provision would require retailers to charge at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag, 5 cents of which would go back to the city or town for enforcement of the ban, as well as for other municipal recycling efforts. This bill aims to protect the environment, combat climate change, and reduce plastic pollutants in Massachusetts. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

In addition, the Senate passed two other pieces of legislation, one to ban flavored tobacco products, and a second to increase transparency and accountability in elections by reforming reporting requirements.