February Opportunities for Action
 
The legislature has held most hearings, and the joint committees have debated the bills before them. Now the session kicks into high gear. To remain active, bills generally must be reported out of joint committee or given an extension by Feb. 7. All bills must be voted on by both chambers by July 31 to become law. 

Most of the bills we support are still in joint committee and need to be reported out; you'll see areas where action is needed below. You will be getting more Action Alerts over the next six months as bills come up for votes in the House and Senate. Contacting your legislators is important. Please pick an action or two and help make a difference.
 
Elections & Voting:

Automatic Voter Registration:  This League priority needs a push to get it to the floor of the House.  Please call or email your state Representative right away. Tell him/her you support H.2091 to bring Automatic Voter Registration to Massachusetts, and urge him/her to ask the Speaker to bring AVR to the floor for a vote.  You can find talking points here.

Moderator Training Available: League moderator training will be conducted Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m., at Acton TV, 16 Craig Road, Acton, MA. Jo-Ann Berry and Stefani Traina, veteran League moderators, will lead this training.  Both new and experienced moderators are encouraged to attend; you can register here.

Immigration:

Safe Communities Act Call-In: If you missed the call-in day Jan. 31, it is not too late to support the Safe Communities Act (S.1305/H.3269) by making two quick and easy phone calls to your two state legislators--Representative and Senator!  See the Action Alert here

Environment & Energy:

Show your love for clean, renewable energy. Participate in Mass Power Forward's Valentine's Lobby Day! Come to the State House Feb. 14, 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
 
LWVMA is a member of the Mass Power Forward Coalition, over 120 organizations strong. On Feb. 14, we're joining our coalition partners for a Valentine's Lobby Day on Beacon Hill to urge our legislators to promote a clean energy future--now.
 
RSVP today to join citizens from every part of the state. Meet with Representatives and Senators to make the case for clean energy. Can't do the full day? Your presence for any part of this Lobby Day will have an impact. The stakes have never been higher.  You'll find details and schedule of activities for the day here .

Three additional environment and energy bills have been added to the LWVMA list of supported legislation this session:
  • S.479/H.2149: The Global Warming Solutions Implementation Act will provide a clear roadmap for achieving emissions targets mandated by the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act;
  • H.3400/S.1847: An Act clarifying authority and responsibilities of the department of public utilities will ensure that Department of Public Utilities proceedings are open, transparent and responsive to public input, and that new natural gas pipeline construction will not be financed by electricity customers
  • H. 2913/S.426: An Act relative to environment and toxics reductions in the Commonwealth will protect vulnerable populations from disparities in exposure to environmental toxins.
Please add these bills when meeting with or calling your legislators to urge their support and action in the energy and environment sector! For questions or additional information, contact Launa Zimmaro, our environment and energy specialist. 

Free Admission to Local Environmental Action Conference: The LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy is offering League members a limited number of free registrations for the Local Environmental Action Conference Saturday, March 3, at Northeastern University. LWVMA is a lead co-sponsor of the conference, which focuses on what individuals and organizations can do locally to support environmental action.

For free admission: Sign up through LWVMA prior to  Monday, Feb. 5 at this  linkDo not register through the Conference website if you wish to get free admissionWe had 15 slots and four are left, so act now. Those who register after the slots are gone will be placed on a waiting list.  Additional League members may attend for a $35 reduced rate.   

We thank the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund for supporting the Steering Committee's work.

Affordable Housing:
 
The Affordable Housing Bond bill passed the House Jan. 24. This bill started as H.675 An Act financing the production and preservation of housing for low and moderate income residents and, after successive drafts, was passed as H.4134. This $1.7 billion bonding will be used over many years to update public housing and add units for persons with very low income and those with disabilities. Low-income tax credits are extended until 2025, critical to counteract recent federal tax cuts.

Please watch for Senate action, which may come up with little notice. Contact your Senator now to indicate your support for the Affordable Housing Bond bill.
  
Health Care:

The bill to require that midwives practicing in out-of-hospital settings be licensed, which would allow insurance coverage for such care, is still in the Joint Committee on Public Health.  Please contact your legislators to ask that H.1189/S.1206, An Act relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety, be reported favorably out of committee.   

At the Federal Level:

LWVUS reports: "The Environmental Protection Administration has extended the deadline to comment on the planned rollback of the Clean Power Plan. Interested parties now have until April 26 to submit comments regarding this misguided action. The proposed rollback will greatly weaken the requirements to curb greenhouse gas emissions. All concerned Leagues and members are urged to submit comments opposing the weakening of this pivotal US climate policy." Click here to see how to comment and review background information.
    
Progress Update:
 
What happened on our bills last month:
  • A major bonding bill for low- and moderate-income housing, H.3925, passed the House as H.4134 and has been sent to the Senate.
  • Bill repealing "archaic statutes targeting young women" passed the Senate and has been sent to the House. S.784, was amended to include some provisions from a similar bill, S.805, and is numbered S.2260. The bill repeals restrictions on abortion and contraception, including a law limiting contraception to married couples.
  • A bill, S.1126, to authorize municipalities to assess a fee on large-scale water users to help communities mitigate the impacts of major new and increased developments on water resources was reported favorably by Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

How to Contact Your Legislator:   
   
You can find phone numbers, email addresses and office addresses on the legislature's webpage for your Senator and Representative. Go to www.malegislature.gov and click on the Legislators tab. If you don't know who your legislators are, click here.
 
The LWVMA Action Newsletter is distributed to all LWVMA members. Anyone can request the Action Newsletter by clicking here. Please review this Newsletter for articles of interest to your League and include them in your local Bulletin.

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