As these precious summer days begin to wane and we prepare to head back into the cooler months of September, I wanted to provide some updates from Beacon Hill and on the COVID-19 response in Massachusetts.
On July 9th, the Legislature unanimously passed the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget, described in greater detail in my previous newsletter. I wanted to be sure to highlight local aid appropriations for the 15th Middlesex district (secured alongside my colleagues representing Lexington and Woburn, Representative Rich Haggerty, Senator Mike Barrett, and Senator Cindy Friedman), along with specific local line items included in the final budget.

Chapter 70 Education Aid
Lexington, $14,647,494
Woburn, $9,687,377

Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA)
Lexington, $1,684,359
Woburn, $6,579,791

  • $350,000 for the NAN Project to increase mental health awareness and suicide prevention programming in schools and communities
  • $50,000 for Lexington’s working group on the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution

  • $100,000 for English at Large, Inc. for English language tutoring and small group instruction
  • $75,000 for the Woburn police department to modernize its emergency response equipment
  • $15,000 for the Friends of Woburn Veterans, Inc. for monument repairs

  • $100,000 for Food Link, Inc. to address food insecurity in Woburn, Lexington, Arlington, Billerica, and Burlington

The FY22 budget reflects the Legislature’s priority of uplifting the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents and communities as the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Above all, the FY22 budget ensures the full implementation of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) by FY27, providing adequate and equitable resources for educational opportunities across the Commonwealth. Funding for the SOA, passed by the Legislature last session, was thrown off track due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there were concerns that it would not be fully funded for the first year. However, our commitment to educational equity prevailed, as the final FY22 budget reduces the seven-year phase-in period to six years and fully funds the first year in FY22, keeping the historic law's timeline on track. 

Other investments in education include:
  • $571 million for the University of Massachusetts system
  • $388.4 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker
  • $315 million for community colleges
  • $291 million for state universities
  • $50 million for Adult Basic Education
  • $27.9 million for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO)
My stellar executive assistant Jack Cohn is transitioning to grad school, and I am seeking applicants for a Political Consultant role. This will be a part-time (10-20 hours per week), temporary six to nine month contract with the opportunity for renewal.

You can find the full job description HERE. Feel free to forward to any qualified candidates who may be interested!

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to [email protected] using the subject line “PC Application.” Please also fill out this google form.

If you have any additional questions, please send them to [email protected].
After my second vaccine dose earlier this year, I have been joining those who have also gotten theirs in different outdoor events and activities. Below is a quick sample of some of the events I have attended this summer.
Senator Elizabeth Warren joined us in Lexington on July 7th, and I had the pleasure of offering opening remarks as part of the program on the Green!
Left, I joined my colleague Representative Rich Haggerty at Woburn City Hall for the "Wear Orange" event to raise awareness around ways to prevent gun violence in our communities. Right, I was pleased to attend the grand opening of Frequency Therapeutics, another company at the vanguard of innovation in biotechnology locating in Lexington.
The pandemic is not behind us, and it is crucial that we all do our part to help stem the tide of COVID-19, particularly the Delta variant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant." While vaccines do not prevent an individual from contracting COVID-19, they reduce the chances of catching it. They also reduce the severity of symptoms in breakthrough cases, significantly preventing hospitalization and death in vaccinated individuals. The Pfizer vaccine is now fully FDA approved, and we expect the Moderna Vaccine to be soon as well, so any lingering concerns about the provisional approval can now be put to rest.

All Massachusetts residents age 12 and up are eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine. Find out where you can get yours here. President Biden and the CDC recently announced that booster shots for all Americans who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available beginning September 20th and starting six to eight months after an individual's second dose.
As the House Chair and cofounder of the Zero Waste Caucus, I have had the opportunity to convene the group regularly alongside Senate Chair Jason Lewis. At recent meetings, we were joined by Jane Patton, Plastics & Petrochemicals Campaign Manager at the Center for International Environmental Law, and Lynn Hoffman, Co-President of Eureka Recycling MN, who detailed the dangers of plastics in our environment. We must act aggressively to curb the brewing dangers of climate change, and reducing plastics helps prevent toxic chemicals from getting into our air, water, and soil.

My team is working to develop a website for the Zero Waste Caucus, dedicated to providing zero waste news and resources, regular updates from the Caucus, and more. Stay tuned for the official launch!

Last month, I had the opportunity to testify about two pieces of Zero Waste legislation I filed in front of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, on which I also serve. First, I presented H.869, my Omnibus Single-Use Plastics bill (filed in the Senate by Senator Jason Lewis as S.579), which would ban plastic grocery bags, polystyrene, black plastics, single serve plastic water bottles, hotel toiletries, nips, plastic wipes, and balloon releases. I then spoke on behalf of H.870, which would require that restaurants provide customers with single-use utensils and other takeout materials only upon request. Crafting and testifying about bold legislation that will positively affect my district and the entire Commonwealth is an incredible honor. To top things off, the fantastic Cynthia Arens, a dedicated constituent of mine from Sustainable Lexington, testified in favor of the Omnibus Single-Use Plastics bill as well. Excellent work, Cynthia!
This summer, I have also had the opportunity to testify on a number of other bills I filed as they were heard in various committees.

Transit Improvement Districts (TIDs), H.3426 (co-filed in the Senate by Cindy Friedman as S.2324). Heard by the Joint Committee on Transportation on July 22nd.

This bill provides for Transit Improvement Districts (TIDs), which will generate revenue to establish public-private partnerships for first mile / last mile transit connections, such as small shuttle bus systems. Modeled off of the Business Improvement Districts statute, this mechanism would allow cities and towns to work together with the private sector and MassDOT to develop efficient transportation systems in their communities. 

I have also filed a Home Rule petition for Lexington after an affirmative vote for this concept at Town Meeting (Article 26), which would establish a pilot program in Lexington. Ultimately, this pilot program would provide a dependable funding source for Lexington’s highly successful Rev Shuttle. More info can be found here.

Lexington Fossil Fuel Home Rule, H.3893 – “An act authorizing the Town of Lexington to adopt and enforce local regulations restricting new fossil fuel infrastructure in certain construction.”

Lexington has been a leader on sustainability, instituting one of first sustainable building plans in the state. In 2018, the Town implemented a Sustainable Action Plan, which states: "The Town of Lexington has chartered the Getting to Net Zero Emissions Task Force to develop a 25-year plan with the goal of eliminating all emissions from Lexington's residential, commercial, and municipal buildings" This Home Rule is needed to ensure we can meet our local planning requirements to get the Town to Net Zero by 2043. You can find more information on this initiative here

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Finally, I wanted let you know that the Legislature is holding hearings on the COVID relief funds contained in the ARPA to ensure they are equitably distributed in ways that enable us to support our most vulnerable and build back better, stronger, and in an environmentally sound way. Much of the funding is expected to be spent on infrastructure and capacity building projects. I wrote a letter to Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets House Chair Gregoire asking for support for the following proposals as we consider how these funds are spent, and I welcome your ideas, input, and suggestions as well!

Technology in Town and City Halls - With virtual meetings here to stay and the need to allow for advanced hybrid in-person and virtual meetings, every city and town will need to invest in people and equipment to bring government to the average citizen. We must create a program to move us into the 21st century from a technology perspective.
Roads - Having followed the Chapter 90 debate closely for decades now (formerly as a municipal official), I am aware that we have been underinvesting in roads for a long time. More than 90% of our roadways are in local control, and the safety of our bicyclists and pedestrians is in the hands of local officials who need more funding in order to maintain basic infrastructure. Chapter 90 has been at the same $200 million annually for more than a decade, and with inflation, localities are not able to keep up. Basic line painting, bike shoulders, and geometric improvements to intersections save lives (especially bikes and pedestrians, since cars increasingly have technology that keeps them in their lanes, but only when the lines are painted).
I believe that we should do a one-time $200 million additional Chapter 90 infusion with the ARPA funds, and then move in the future toward a $300 million annual allocation. Complete Streets, a beloved statewide program, also needs far more funding (I would suggest an additional $100 million annually) in order to help municipalities improve mobility for vulnerable road users and facilitate first mile / last mile transit connections.  
Green Landscaping Equipment - H.868 - This is a bill I have filed that directs the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to create an incentive program for cities and towns to transition away from gas powered landscape equipment. It also encourages the creation of a zero-interest loan program to help commercial landscape companies do the same. Two- and four-stroke engines emit dangerous chemicals and greenhouse gases, and they are essentially unregulated and unfiltered, which is vastly different from auto engines. New data from California shows that running a standard lawn mower for an hour is like driving a Toyota Camry for 40 hours. Unfortunately, those who operate landscape equipment tend to be low- and moderate-income residents, immigrants, and people of color who are being exposed to noxious chemicals and hearing-damaging decibel levels.

This is the next sector of our polluting emissions that needs to be addressed, and I would encourage funding to create a program to help accelerate this market transition. In working with a non-profit that has researched these issues, we have determined that a statewide program allocation of approximately $12.5 million would pay the difference in the purchase price cost of electric versus gas equipment to incentivize 200 municipalities to fully transform their DPW fleets to all electric.
Residential PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Program - MassDevelopment already runs a program to help commercial property owners transition their buildings to clean energy and highly efficient systems (called “Commercial PACE”). However, there is no statewide program for residential. Transforming our housing stock will be one of the most challenging areas in terms of meeting our 2050 Net Zero objectives, so a Residential PACE program would be apropos. H.3275 directs the administration to create such a program, and H.3276 expands the types of Commercial projects that would be eligible (while also eliminating subsidies for natural gas line construction).
Climate Resilience at the MBTA - In legislation I filed, H.3427--which was developed by MAPC with input from MassDOT--both the MBTA and MassDOT would be required to assess and report on the cost of making the entire system climate resilient. It is striking that we do not yet have an analysis of the investment needed to prepare for the types of storm surges, flooding, hurricanes, and other weather events that are becoming all too common due to climate change. Before we have a disaster like what happened when Hurricane Sandy flooded the New York City Metro, we need to assess our own system and be ready to make the investments needed to keep things running.
Rebuilding Alewife Station - Finally, MassDOT is working on several planning studies that will look at the rebuilding of Alewife Station. This is a critical piece of infrastructure pivotal to transit access for the northeast suburbs and beyond. Already, due to its deterioration, we have large areas of the garage shut down due to falling concrete, and before the facility needs to be shut entirely, we need design monies to advance the reconstruction.
As of July 1st, the final section of Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) went into effect, rounding out the program’s full benefits. Now, Massachusetts workers can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid time off from work to care for a seriously ill or injured family member. With the implementation of these critical provisions, we now have the most robust PFML program in the nation. To learn more about PFML, look here.  
In early June, the House and Senate met for a historic joint session in which we overwhelmingly voted to support the Fair Share Amendment. After favorable votes in this session and last, this crucial measure will now be placed on the November 2022 ballot for voters to have their say.

The Fair Share Amendment is a necessary tool to combat the inequitable tax structure that burdens working families in the Commonwealth and spares the wealthy. Specifically, it would add an additional 4% tax on annual income above $1 million, raising critical revenue for the Commonwealth's education and transportation systems. In order to provide high-quality public schools and colleges and world-class transit, everyone needs to pay their fair share. These investments in our communities cannot wait, and for that reason, I am proud that the Legislature approved this measure by a resounding 159-41 margin.
Representative Michelle Ciccolo | Website