Forward Progress in the General Court
Happy August, I hope this note finds you and yours well as the summer starts winding down and we look forward to the fall. I wanted to provide you with a Legislative update as it has been a busy summer. The final weeks of July were a whirlwind as the General Court met in eight consecutive formal sessions in order to move many important pieces of legislation forward, and I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on what we passed in the State House.

An abbreviated list can be found here, and check out below for a more in-depth description of each bill, plus other news and highlights from my office.

  • Extending Formal Sessions, H.4910.

  • Putting Patients First Act, H.4888.

  • 2050 Road Map to achieve MA's net-zero emissions goal, H.4912.

  • Economic Development, H.4879.

  • Combined Sewer Outflow Notification, H.3976.

  • Three Month Budget Through October, H.4905.
Legislation Summaries
Extending Formal Sessions

Given the many urgent pieces of legislation still working their way through the legislative process and the time lost this spring to the ongoing pandemic, I joined with my colleagues in both chambers to support and unanimously pass an order allowing the General Court to meet in formal session past the traditional July 31st deadline.

Police Reform, An Act relative to Justice, Equity and Accountability in Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth

I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing this legislation, which will improve policing in Massachusetts by establishing a certification process, creating an independent and empowered oversight board, and codifying restrictions on use of force measures, among other measures.

The bill follows extensive discussions with members and stakeholders, including the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus as well as law enforcement organizations. It seeks to improve governance of police and addresses a number of key items aimed at making our system more equitable, including the elimination of the chokehold and addition of an officer’s duty to intervene in cases where a colleague improperly uses excessive force.

It also establishes the Massachusetts Police Standards and Training Commission, a seven-person board responsible for certifying, restricting, and, following due process, revoking and suspending certification for police officers. The bill removes qualified immunity for individuals who have been decertified by the MPSTC and limits the use of facial recognition technology. It also forms the Division of Training and Certification to devise appropriate training and certification standards for police. Finally, the bill creates a number of commissions to investigate structural racism in correctional facilities, the parole process, and probation services.

Additionally, the bill:

  • Establishes restrictions on the use of force, including
  • Prohibiting physical and deadly force except in certain extremely limited circumstances;
  • Banning Chokeholds;
  • Limiting the discharge of a firearm into a fleeing vehicle; and
  • Restricting the use of tear gas, rubber pellets, and dogs.

  • Sets Massachusetts on a path for reform and investigation of
  • The Civil Service System
  • Structural racism in
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Parole Process
  • Probation Services
  • Law enforcement body camera use

  • Sets up permanent commissions on the status of African American, the status of Latinos, and the status of persons with disabilities to ensure that historically underserved communities equitably benefit from and have access to government services in the same manner as others in the Commonwealth.

  • Promotes solutions that address the impact of discrimination against African Americans and Latinos and assesses programs and practices in all state agencies as they affect both groups using a racial equity framework

  • Establishes a statewide law enforcement officer cadet program and corrections officer training and certification.

  • Throughout the legislative process, we recognized that qualified immunity reform is a complex topic that affects many sectors and could benefit from additional study. Therefore, the House bill creates two separate and parallel tracks. To wit, it removes qualified immunity for those police officers who are decertified by the commission after due process and continues to study qualified immunity more broadly.

  • Forbids public agencies other than the Registry of Motor Vehicles from using facial recognition technology, and only permits law enforcement to access facial recognition after obtaining a warrant or making a written determination that an emergency with an imminent risk of death or serious injury exists.

  • Creates a process around the use and training of School Resource Officers and imposes limits on student record sharing by schools with law enforcement.

  • Prohibits officers from having sexual intercourse with a person in custody and creates strong penalties for such conduct.

  • Makes it a crime for an officer to submit a false timesheet.

  • Requires that a no-knock warrant be issued by a judge (previously left to a clerk magistrate) and stipulates that one can only be issued if the affidavit supporting the request establishes probable cause that if the officer announces their presence, their life or the lives of others will be endangered, and only if no minor child or person over 65 is believed to be present in the building. An officer may only enter a residence without a no-knock warrant if there is a credible risk of imminent harm.

The bill is now in conference committee.

Putting Patients First Act

This bill requires telehealth coverage for individuals covered under the GIC, MassHealth, Insurers, Hospital Service Corporations, Medical Service Corporations, HMOs, and PPOs. It also expands Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Nurse scope of practice, granting the independent practice authority for prescriptions. Finally, it deals with certain provisions specific to COVID-19, including the expiration of temporary licenses for healthcare professionals granted under the Governor’s executive orders, rates for out-of-network emergency services, and copay-free, in-patient treatment for Coronavirus in 2021. 

The bill is now in conference committee.

An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving commonwealth
Backed by science and supported by climate justice activists, this bill touches all sectors of Massachusetts’ economy. It lays out a path to achieve at least net zero emissions by 2050 by updating the Global Warming Solutions Act to match current climate science. 
This bill is transformative–it builds the policy infrastructure to get us to our aggressive climate goals while remaining centered around issues of environmental justice. With the passage of this bill, we further establish ourselves in the Commonwealth as leaders in the climate movement, creating the tools to fight climate change, bring our economy along as a partner in the solutions.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Updates the state greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction limit to net zero by 2050, requiring interim targets of at least a 50% decrease from 1990 levels by 2030, and a 75% decrease by 2040.
  • Requires a backcast analysis of pathways to net zero, with environmental justice (EJ) considerations as well as public modeling and data.
  • Necessitates that the 2050 emissions reduction roadmap plan to be updated every five years.
  • Provides for the promulgation of regulations for implementation one year after publication of 2050 Roadmap Plan.
  • Creates a Municipal Light Plant Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard.
  • Establishes a Clean Energy Equity Workforce and Market Development Program to create programs to improve access by low-income and EJ populations to the benefits of the green economy.
  • Ensures low-income participation and equitable access in future solar programs, as well as auditing of climate resiliency and energy-efficiency updates to affordable housing by DHCD.
  • Creates a Future Utility Grid Commission to make recommendations about grid modernization.

It is now in conference committee.

Economic Development, An Act enabling partnerships for growth

This legislation facilitates housing development and provides more than $450 million in state funding to spur growth. It pairs initiatives to improve the housing market for buyers with providing protections for tenants, and authorizes “Housing Choice,” which reduces the voting requirement for a range of smart growth housing-related zoning changes and special permits at the local level, from a two-thirds threshold to a simple majority. The legislation also creates a local option for the tenant right to purchase/first right of refusal to purchase buildings landlords put up for sale, increases the low-income housing tax credit from $20 million to $40 million, and requires DHCD to notify tenants they have a right to mediation with landlords prior to the eviction process.

The legislation also creates a Cultural Council Recovery Commission to review and develop recommendations for the recovery, promotion and continued growth and vitality of the cultural and creative sector in the commonwealth.

Finally, the bill additionally provides for $459M in bond authorizations, which are far-reaching investments in the commonwealth's economy.

It is now in conference committee.

Information Technology Bond Bill

This legislation authorizes up to $1.7 billion in spending for the improvement of information technology equipment and related projects in Massachusetts.

It is now before the Governor for his consideration.

An Act prohibiting discrimination based on natural hairstyles

This legislation bans workplace discrimination based on an employee wearing a natural hairstyle, which will prevent especially Massachusetts workers, especially Black individuals, from being forced to get often expensive hair treatments or otherwise style their hair if they choose not to do so.

It now awaits consideration by the Senate.

An Act promoting awareness of sewage pollution in public waters

Currently in Massachusetts, the public has no way to know when bacteria-laden sewage discharges make our waterways unsafe for recreation. This bill institutes a statewide sewage discharge notification system to alert residents when rivers are unsafe as a result.

It now awaits consideration by the Senate.

Three Month Budget Through October, An Act making certain appropriations for fiscal year 2021 before final action on the General Appropriation Bill

This measure, which has been signed by the Governor, keeps state government funded through October 31, allowing the General Court to more fully and accurately assess what state tax receipts will look like for Fiscal Year 2021, allowing us to craft a realistic, progressive, and responsible budget for the Commonwealth as we continue to grapple with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

  • The budget level funds local aid and provides Chapter 70 school aid at no less than what a community received last year, adjusted to include an increase for inflation. It also directs additional federal recovery funds to school districts and municipal budgets.

I am seeking two college level, volunteer interns with a passion for womxn’s rights. In light of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I am celebrating womxn’s suffrage by highlighting Lexington’s female leaders of yesterday and today. As an intern, you will assist with the modern aspect of the ‘Womxn’s Suffrage Project,' which focuses on highlighting Lexington’s current female leaders. Specifically, you will help with research, writing, community outreach, and social media, among other tasks as assigned. Descriptions of the two roles can be found at the link below.

NOTE: These are remote internship opportunities. The minimum time commitment is 10 hours per week. The internship will begin as soon as possible and end when intern availability ceases or the project is completed.
Representative Michelle Ciccolo | Website