A 75 degree day, buds emerging on trees, and the beautiful if incessant birdsong outside my window can only mean one thing: spring has sprung in the beautiful Bay State. And our legislators are celebrating the Equinox in the traditional Pagan manner: digging in their heels on their competing legislative priorities.
It’s a long Scoop today, so let’s dive right in.
State House Scoop
Report finds MA is underfunding early education by $1.5 billion
A special commission on early education found that early childhood education is overly expensive and inaccessible for many Bay Staters. The report details the need to expand childcare centers and increase funding to alleviate the financial burden faced in particular by low-income families. Recommendations in the report, totaling $1.5 billion in increased funding and services, include expanding eligibility for childcare subsidies and increasing workforce pay.
The Senate hinted at the beginning of this session they hoped to take up legislation related to childcare and early education. Let’s hope they do, swiftly, and that it looks as much like universal pre-k as possible. Whether the House has any interest in such a bill is another question entirely.
Baker hopes to expand access to mental, primary health care
On Tuesday, Governor Baker introduced a healthcare bill intended to address some lasting impacts of covid. The plan would increase the healthcare sector’s investment in primary and mental health care, which currently only make up 15% of healthcare spending. For those of you keeping track, this marks three competing healthcare reform initiatives this session, alongside Spilka’s prescription drug cost bill and Mariano’s community hospital bill.
Judiciary Committee questions Baker admin’s dedication to criminal justice reform
In a nine-page letter, the chair of the House’s Judiciary Committee Rep. Michael Day criticized the Baker administration for their refusal to implement several elements of the 2018 and 2020 criminal justice reform laws. Specifically, Day cites the administration’s failure to test sexual assault kits in a timely manner, the Department of Correction’s workaround to continue prolonged periods of solitary confinement, and a regulation on the books permitting the use of choke holds despite their illegality. Or as Day aptly puts it, “some disturbing instances of noncompliance.”
House passes bill banning discrimination based on natural hairstyles
In a piece of good news from the State House, the House unanimously passed a bill on Thursday prohibiting discrimination based on “natural and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots and other formations." The bill originated in a case in Malden where two Black students were regularly punished for their braid extensions until the Attorney General stepped in.
House passes resolution to expedite resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in MA
In a bipartisan effort, Speaker Mariano and Minority Leader Jones spearheaded a resolution that called on both the governor and federal government to provide “expedited consideration” for Ukrainians seeking refuge in Massachusetts.
Join IMC and Act on Mass for a Conversation with Author David Pepper Tuesday 3/29 @ 7:00
We’re thrilled to be co-hosting Indivisible Mass Coalition’s statewide call with guest speaker David Pepper, the author of Laboratories of Autocracy: A Wake Up Call From Behind the Lines.
And last, a not-so-fun fact to kick off your weekend brought to us by David Pepper:
“…it’s anonymous, often corrupt politicians in statehouses across the country who pose the greatest dangers to American democracy. Amid all the chaos, these statehouses are hard at work, every day, hacking away at core principles and protections of our democratic system. And they’re getting more audacious every year.
Why do these statehouses seem so impossible to stop? Because more than most appreciate, in state after state, they no longer operate as functioning democratic institutions. And without basic democracy at the state level, all the incentives are warped—these politicians are rewarded for attacks on democracy and actions that sacrifice public outcomes for private profiteering.” (David Pepper, Laboratories of Autocracy)
Thank you for making it through this long edition of the Scoop!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.