February Opportunities for Action
Come to LWVMA's Feb. 6 Day of Action
On February 14, 2020, the League of Women Voters will celebrate the actual 100th birthday of our founding with a Day of Action at the national, state and local League levels. As part of that celebration, LWVMA is planning a State House Day of Action Thursday, Feb. 6.
 
We invite all members to join us in Room 428 at the State House at 10 a.m. Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Spilka will speak, and we will salute those legislators who are members of the League. We will also distribute a reminder to all legislators that passing Election Day voter registration is a perfect way to celebrate this anniversary. Click here to RSVP.

Senate Passes Trio of Climate Change Bills
The Senate has passed three bills dealing with energy and climate change that advocates, including our climate change specialist Launa Zimmaro, consider a major step forward. The challenge now will be to keep this package strong as it goes through the House.  Please contact your own state Representative and urge them to pass the Senate’s strong climate change legislation. Stay tuned for additional actions as the legislative session progresses.

The major bill in the package is S2477, An Act setting next-generation climate policy, a comprehensive climate policy bill that declares a climate emergency; sets a statewide greenhouse gas limit for the year 2050 of “net zero” emissions; establishes the Massachusetts Climate Policy Commission to oversee government’s handling of climate change; establishes economy-wide carbon pricing that expands a price for carbon pollution beyond the electricity sector to transportation, buildings and industry over time; protects low- and moderate-income people as changes are made; lets cities and towns adopt a “net zero” stretch energy code for buildings in their communities; allows for pilots to transition gas utilities to distribution of renewable energy, and many more provisions.

S2476, An Act to accelerate the transition of cars, trucks and buses to carbon-free power, directs the MBTA to limit bus purchases and leases to zero-emissions vehicles beginning in 2030, and to aim for an all-zero-emissions fleet by 2040.

S2478, An Act relative to Energy Savings Efficiency (Energy SAVE), updates Massachusetts appliance standards to improve energy and water efficiency.

For a detailed description of this climate change package, see the statement issued by Senate President Karen Spilka when the bills were reported out of committee.

This package will be the legislature’s major effort on climate change going forward. Provisions in most of the energy and climate change bills we are following have been incorporated into this package, so most of those individual bills will not proceed further. 

Take action on the climate emergency! Contact your Representative and voice your support for this strong package of bills.

Presidential Primary March 3
Remember that the deadline to register for the Super Tuesday Presidential primary March 3 is Wednesday, Feb. 12. People can check their registration status or register online at www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/. Early voting will be available Feb. 24-28.

The League’s online voter guide, VOTE411.org, will have information on the Massachusetts primary election after Feb. 5. 

Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper reminding people of the registration deadline and alerting them to the VOTE411.org site. You can find a template here.

Census 2020: Time to Act
The Census count starts in less than 40 days. All households will receive a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau March 12 inviting them to fill in the questionnaire online, by mail, or by phone. Now is the time to educate your communities on the importance of the census, how to participate, and how to complete the questionnaire. Local trusted organizations, such as the League, are critical for reaching out to hard to count populations and can help make the census successful.  Emphasize that there is no citizenship question on the Census questionnaire.

The following resources can help you to plan and execute programs to ensure a complete count in your community. These resources are constantly being u pdated.
Meet with your local officials to discuss the importance of the census, discuss plans, and ways your local League can help. Consider joining or starting a Complete Count Committee in your community. You can learn more here

Join the LWVMA 2020 Census Share Group. Keep current, ask questions, and share ideas and activities through our Census 2020 email group. Contact Brynne Gorman to join.

Webinar: 2020 Census—Legal Questions Answered. Lawyers for Civil Rights, Boston, is hosting a webinar Friday, Feb. 14, at noon addressing legal questions such as confidentiality protections and the Administration’s executive order on collection of citizenship data. Sign up here.

Update on the Legislature
While the deadline for bills to be reported out of joint committees is Feb. 5, many bills will receive an extension of the reporting time, for days, weeks or even months. We will keep you posted at the end of each month’s action newsletter as bills are either reported out or are “sent to study” and are no longer active. 

MassTrac, the legislative tracking service we use, noted in mid-January that there was a legislative backlog: “ All of the legislature's joint committees - with the exception of Health Care Financing - are required to report out their bills - or file for extensions - by Feb. 5. After being in session for a full year, only 1,100 bills have been reported out or sent to study. Over 5,200 still await action. And 200 of them haven't even had a hearing - including 69 in the Transportation committee!”

We will be flagging bills in the action newsletters or sending action alerts as bills get close to being voted on in either the House or Senate so you can contact your legislators. Note that many bills receive new numbers as they are reported out of committee, particularly if several bills have been combined or a bill has been rewritten. We cannot keep track of constantly changing numbers on our website, but you can follow a bill’s progress by clicking on the number on our website then following the new numbers listed under “bill history” on the legislature site.

Progress Update
Some of our bills are coming up for votes now. Here’s what happened in January:
  • H410/S263 The Healthy Youth Act to provide sexual health education—passed the Senate and sent to the House
  • H591/S267 Breakfast after the Bell, to make breakfast available after school begins—passed the Senate; already passed the House. The two chambers are reconciling their versions of the bill.

Several bills have been reported favorably out of joint committees and will move on toward a vote. These bills are now out of committee:
  • H1265 An Act to protect families experiencing homelessness from having to sleep in unsafe places
  • H1305/S797 An Act relative to the Massachusetts rental voucher program to update that program
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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