September 22, 2021
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The legislature returned to formal Session after a brief summer recess. Things are incredibly busy on Beacon Hill right now. Be sure to follow us on social media for frequent updates. I have two particular legislative agenda updates to highlight to you today. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Very truly yours,
Joan Meschino
Representative Meschino Files Bill Relative to Waivers for Non-Fault Overpayments
Last week, I filed An Act relative to waivers for non-fault overpayments (HD4461) to streamline the process and standards that determine whether the collection of overpaid state and federal unemployment benefits accrued in 2020 and 2021 will be waived.

After hearing from constituents, we recognized a few common themes. First, the system is unduly cumbersome and hard to navigate, especially at a moment of significant financial strain. The appeal process lacks meaningful notice. The system is generally inaccessibility to most people. Further research revealed that the existing legal standards for waiving overpayments are completely insufficient to meet the unprecedented scale of pandemic claims and contravene the purpose of the program to support regular people who lost jobs during the economic closure.

Among other provisions, the legislation requires that DUA provide notice of and assistance with the waiver application process to claimants; provides scenarios where recovery of overpayments made through no fault of the worker would be against equity and good conscience; requires DUA to reconsider previously denied waiver applications under the new standards of this Act; and
prohibits DUA from improperly establishing overpayments based on redeterminations made beyond the one-year deadline provided in state law.

Throughout the pandemic, residents turned to unemployment benefits to keep afloat. Now, many workers are being ordered to repay tens of thousands of dollars in “overpaid” benefits, nearly all of which were awarded through no fault of the worker. Such overpayments were often the result of errors made as the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) had to quickly enact new federally funded benefit programs, respond to rapidly evolving federal guidance, and process a massive influx of unemployment claims.

For more context behind and information on this legislation, please refer to our press release here.
Representative Meschino Testified for Bill Supporting Parents Running for Public Office
At a hearing held last week by the Joint Committee on Election Laws, I joined my colleagues Representative Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) and Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) to testify on behalf of H.769/S.475, An Act supporting parents running for public office.

Consistent with federal law, similar to legislation passed in seventeen other states, and in line with the recommendations of the Special Commission on Family Care and Child Care Services, the bill would allow candidates to use donated campaign funds to pay for child care expenses. High costs of child care can be prohibitive to candidates seeking elected office, and this bill aims to remove this barrier and advance equity in the Commonwealth.

If we want a more diverse body of legislators, then we need a more diverse candidate pool. We must be intentional about investing in people, building equity in the system so that we can grow that candidate pool and encourage people from all walks of life to run for public office.

For more information on the legislation, you can find our press release here.
Representative Joan Meschino presenting at a legislative hearing supporting H.769/S.475, An Act supporting parents running for public office.
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