Deadlines Looming for MA Legislature
Posted on 01 Jan 2020
Deadlines looming for legislature
MA State legislative session is almost two-thirds finished.
Today, the MA State House just held its first formal legislative session since November, although there weren’t any votes on legislation (the session mostly consists of ceremonial processions of legislators to announce to the governor and the Senate that they are back in session). The legislature only has seven months left before the end of session on July 31st.
One year ago today, the legislative session began, and in the last 12 months we’ve seen a few excellent pieces of legislation passed, most notably:
- Passage of the Student Opportunity Act, to spend $1.5 Billion on fully funding K-12 public education in the state.
- Passage of a bill to limit the damaging effects of the Janus Supreme Court case on public sector unions in the state.
- A ban on conversion therapy - a protection for LGBTQ+ residents long overdue (MA was the last state in New England to ban the practice).
The legislature deserves praise for passing these bills, but there is still so much more to be done: to protect immigrants in our state, to tackle the housing crisis, to combat wage theft, to improve access to healthcare, to protect reproductive rights and so much more.
There are many progressive bills which are at danger of being killed in just 5 weeks. Committees have a deadline of February 6th to act on the bills they’ve had for the last year. That’s just 5 weeks away.
Here are some of the main bills we’re following, that still haven’t been voted on by the committees they were referred to:
- 100% Renewables - H.2836 - a bill to move Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy to tackle the climate crisis. A hearing was held 5 months ago, but the committee still hasn’t held a vote on it.
- Medicare for All - H.1194 - a bill to move MA to a single-payer healthcare system. A hearing was held 6 months ago, but the committee still hasn’t held a vote on it.
- Healthy Youth Act - H.410 - a bill requiring sex education to include teaching consent and to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. A hearing was held 6 months ago, but the committee still hasn’t held a vote on it.
- Election Day Voter Registration - H.685 - a bill making it easier to vote by allowing people to register up through election day. A hearing was held 6 months ago, but the committee still hasn’t held a vote on it.
- Wage Theft - H.1610 - a bill to prevent wage theft, which has cosponsorship from over 2/3rds of the legislature. A hearing was held 7 months ago, but the committee still hasn’t held a vote on it.
- Safe Communities Act - H.3573 - a bill to prevent state police from being deputized as ICE agents and participating in Trump’s cruel and racist immigration policies. A hearing will be held on Jan 24th.
- Tenant Protections - H.3573 - a bill to enable local options for tenant protections to help tackle the housing crisis in Massachusetts. A hearing has been scheduled for Jan 14th.
The legislature shouldn’t operate in secret
It’s really important that these committees act before the Feb 6th deadline, or else these important pieces of legislation will die.
But it’s also important that committees make public how they vote on these bills. In most cases, when killing legislation, the committee votes in secret, so that legislators can’t be blamed.
When the Public Safety committee, chaired by Rep. Harold Naughton, killed the Safe Communities Act in 2018, the committee refused to release how members of the committee voted.
Earlier this year, when the Election Laws committee, chaired by Rep. John Lawn, killed a bill that would re-enfranchise those currently incarcerated in our state, they kept the vote secret.
Ask your Rep to join those who have pledged to tell us how they vote in committee
As of now, 12 Reps are committed to telling us how they vote in committee, and to work to change the rules of any committees they chair to make all votes public.
Committees in the State Senate already make all their votes publicly available on the state house website, but the House & Joint committees don’t.
Popular progressive legislation is killed year after year (sometimes for decades) only because some legislators know they can vote bills down in secret and never face criticism for their votes.
If your Rep is not on the list below, call them and ask them to sign our pledge. Here are some talking points to guide you. Let us know how it goes! Find out more about our pledge here. And you can look up your Rep’s number here
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