It's been a productive term addressing childcare, climate, healthcare, housing, and transportation challenges, among other legislation, all while tending local priorities in Danvers, Peabody and Middleton.
The legislative agenda began with a necessarily ambitious climate bill and ended with an offshore wind and clean energy bill that will be transformative.
Our quick action defending reproductive rights is notable (scroll down for details) and we passed a well-crafted major mental health bill to expand access to mental health care. It's no exaggeration to say these will be life-saving measures (more legislative news below).
Locally, I'm working closely with local officials, neighbors in Danvers, Peabody and Middleton & Sen. Lovely, Sen. Tarr and Reps. Walsh, Jones, Belsito and Parisella on several concerns, including:
- Better bus routes & regional connectivity
- Reducing crashes on Rt. 114
- Reducing airport noise from small planes flying out of Beverly Airport
- Opposing the closing of the North Shore Birth Center
- Opposing the new fossil fuel plant being built in Peabody
- Addressing Water supply issues among communities in the Ipswich River Watershed
The Fiscal Year '23 Budget
The Fiscal Year 2023 budget invests in our children and students, our seniors and our vulnerable populations. It invests in housing so that families can afford to stay in Massachusetts, and it invests in our workforce to secure future economic stability. It also puts several million dollars into our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, our pension and rainy day funds. Transportation investments are made with an eye first towards safety and then economic vitality for our communities.
This is extremely lengthy, but there's a lot to tell!
Here are the Highlights.
$1 billion targeted for early education and care to improve access to affordable care for children and families.
- $10,000,0000 for scholarships to early education and care providers to pay for the childcare of their own children
More than $100 million in children’s mental health services to shorten wait times in Emergency Departments for psychiatric care (keep reading for more on this).
Fully funds the Student Opportunities Act.
Allocates $6 billion in Chapter 70 funds to school districts.
$100 million to bolster job training, connect unemployed and under-employed people with higher paying jobs, and help students gain skills for jobs of the future
Extends the universal school meals program for another year.
Provides $175,150,000 for the Massachusetts State Scholarship Program, which represents a $44,650,000 million increase over FY22. A portion of this funding supports scholarships for early educators, which will help professionalize the field of early education and care.
$150 million in funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher (MRVP) Program, which provides a permanent improvement in the lives of low-income families and individuals by offering both tenant- and project-based rental subsidies.
It funds $140 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, which is emergency housing payment assistance.
It allocates $92 million for Housing Authority subsidies, which helps housing authorities provide quality public housing for thousands of low- and moderate-income families as well as individuals who are elderly, veterans of the United States military and those with a disability.
$59.4 million for the HomeBASE program, which provides re-housing benefits, from rent deposits to furniture to utilities payments, for families who are in the emergency shelter assistance system.
$150 million to support the production of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, seniors and veterans.
- Transportation and infrastructure ($300 Million, with a set-aside of $226 Million for the T
Home and Community Based Services Rate Adjustment (Enough Pay to Stay) $40,040,717 Increases rates paid for home health aides, homemakers and personal care homemaker services by 40% over FY22 appropriation to support the recruitment and retention of our dedicated home health and home care aides
Elder Protective Services - $42,764,146 a nearly $7m increase over the FY22 appropriation.
Councils on Aging - $24,888,519 for grants to councils on aging at a formula of $12 per-elder.
Danvers, Peabody, Middleton Projects Receive Budget Funding
I'm pleased that working with colleagues Sen. Joan Lovely, Rep. Tom Walsh and Rep. Brad Jones and I could secure earmarks for local needs, including
$100,000 for the Northeast Arc Learning Center in Danvers.
$5,000 to restore Birch Cemetery in West Peabody
$10,000 for digital speed signs on Lowell Street
$60,000 to expand the Danvers Rail Trail
$50,000 for Middleton infrastructure improvements
Women's Access to Abortion Protected in Massachusetts
Our country is still reeling from the devastating news of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning of Roe v. Wade. We in the Massachusetts House and Senate acted quickly, and within days the Governor signed into law legislative protections for both those providing and those seeking abortion care. I was honored to be invited to the Reproductive Rights Roundtable convened by Vice-President Kamala Harris on August 5 with House colleagues. The protections enacted by this legislation were cited by Vice-President Harris as a national model. It was a proud moment for the House and the Commonwealth. The legislation, now law:
- Requires insurance coverage for abortion-related care without deductibles or co-pays.
- Makes emergency contraception more readily accessible.
- Prohibits law enforcement from providing information to other states related to investigation into legally protected health care services in our state.
- Designates gender-affirming services as legally protected health care subject to the same protections as reproductive care. This is in response to cruel and discriminatory legislation cropping up in other states that target trans people and the LGBTQ community.
Mental Health ABC Act:
Addressing Barriers to Care
The comprehensive mental health package we passed enshrines a series of reforms that will improve access to care, especially for youth, by:
Addressing the crisis of emergency room boarding.
Creating an expedited evaluation and stabilization process for patients under 18, among other provisions.
Mandating insurance coverage for annual mental health wellness exams, similar to annual physical health exams.
- Mandating parity of reimbursement for mental health care
- Creating online portals that help health care providers to more easily find open beds.
- The bill will also assist with the rollout of the 24/7 “988” behavioral health crisis and suicide prevention hotline that’s being implemented nationwide.
- Ensure that individuals over 26 years old with disabilities can remain on their parents’ health insurance.
As I mentioned, we passed and the Governor has signed into law a strong, comprehensive voting bill.
- An amendment I co-sponsored to direct funds to our Town Clerks did not succeed. I will continue to advocate for adequate resources for our Clerks.
Sports betting legalization
Scores of wagers are placed by Massachusetts residents who travel to nearby states to legally bet, leaving our state out of the revenues attached. After months of negotiations between the House and Senate, those individuals can do place their bets legally in the Commonwealth. The compromise bill:
- Includes online and in-person betting and will allow betting on college sports (with the exception of Massachusetts schools --unless they are participating in a tournament such as March Madness).
- Requires active efforts to create awareness of gambling addiction and resources for help. Kudos to Beverly Representative Rep. Jerry Parisella, who led negotiations on the bill.
Transportation Bond Bill
As a member of the Transportation Committee, I am following the litany of safety failures at the T. I participated in a recent MBTA oversight hearing to question the T’s General Manager and the Secretary of Transportation about progress on a 34 specific measures to improve safety; our second oversight hearing will be held in the fall).
The Transportation bond bill authorizes $400 million for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to implement these steps. It also authorizes funding for:
- Roads, bridges, highways, and public transit
Grants to municipalities under the Complete Streets Funding Program.
Invests $175 million to promote and expand the use of electric vehicles and other transportation alternatives that reduce emissions.
Judiciary Bond Bill
A Judicial Information Technology Bond Bill was also finalized by end of session. to bring bring Massachusetts Courts into the 21st Century with necessary upgrades.
The Comprehensive Clean Energy and Jobs Bill
Offshore wind development legislation passed in the final days of the session. Building on the 2021 Climate Roadmap law, we continue in this bill to make investments into grid readiness, building decarbonization, and green transportation in working towards our clean energy future.
This bill will incentivize offshore wind companies to operate in the state and create clean energy jobs. It will :
- Ensure grid readiness
- Require utility companies to proactively upgrade the transmission and distribution grid
- Encourage EV purchases by increasing the rebate for qualifying purchases of zero-emissions vehicles, createl widely implement EV charging stations.
WE ALSO PASSED ...
State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE2.0) Strengthens our local public health system through increasing equity, bolstering staff capacity and credentials, data collection and cross-jurisdictional sharing among our local public health systems.
An Act relative to military spouse licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents (SPEED Act) will address the health impacts of open burn pits during overseas deployment and ensure that information on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry be distributed to healthcare providers, veterans’ service offices and organizations, and service members and veterans. The bill also helps military spouses who relocate here by simplifying teacher licensure for already-licensed teachers in other states.
Genocide Education legislation to require the teaching of the Holocaust and other genocides.
The Family Work and Mobility Act to allow those who cannot document their citizenship status to apply for a driver's license. I supported this, as did several police chiefs, because we're all safer on the roads when everyone is licensed and insured.
An Act Banning Childhood Marriage. Rep. Kay Khan and Rep. Paul Donato worked for more than a decade on this legislation; this year, it passed overwhelmingly.
An Act Creating the Women's History Trail. This legislation was led to its passage this year by Senator Joan Lovely. Congratulations and thank you, Senator!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my deep disappointment that we were not able to pass the Economic Development bill. Unfortunately, too much uncertainty was created by the 11th hour announcement that revenues have triggered a 1986 law that could require nearly $3 billion be returned to taxpayers. Talks continue at this writing about how to move forward. Whether it's through this bill or another, I’m committed to fair and equitable tax relief and I am hopeful we'll take up the Economic Development bill.
You might recall that in 2021, the Redistricting Plan divided both Topsfield and Wenham into two precincts. Topsfield Precinct 2 and Wenham Precinct 1A were attached to the 13th Essex, which I now represent. Topsfield Precinct 1 was attached to the 2d Essex, now represented by Rep. Lenny Mirra, and Wenham Precinct 1 was attached to the 6th Essex, now represented by Rep. Jerry Parisella. Both Towns were represented by Brad Hill until he resigned in 2021 to take an appointment to the State Gaming Commission.
A special election was held In November of 2021 and Jamie Belsito of Topsfield prevailed and was sworn in shortly afterwards.
Rep. Belsito has made her mark in the House elevating maternal health and mental health issues. She is an exceptional advocate for her communities, a joy to work with and loved by her colleagues. I'm honored to call her a friend, colleague and, soon, constituent and she will continue to make contributions to her community.
Thank You, Katherine McGee
From my swearing-in on January 6, 2021, Katherine McGee has been my stellar aide. We learned the remote ropes together. She helped hundreds of people in the 13th Essex District and helped me in countless ways.
Katherine has now moved on to a new gig with the Attorney General's Team and I am thrilled for her.
Congratulations and best of luck, Katherine!
Welcome, Brian Kleckner
Brian Kleckner will become my Legislative Aide beginning August 31st. Brian is a 2022 graduate of Trinity College (B.A., Public Policy) with an interest in politics and policy.
Please reach out to Brian (Brian.Kleckner@mahouse.gov) or me (Sally.Kerans@mahouse.gov) any time to share your thoughts on issues or if you need assistance with State House matters.
As I introduce myself to folks in Topsfield Precinct 2 and Wenham Precinct 1A, I could use your help in three ways:
Kindly forward the names of friends in those precincts.
If you know of upcoming events, email us at email@example.com
- Contribute to the cost of mailing and advertising via Actbue (copy and paste the link into your browser)
or mail checks to Sally Kerans Committee, 208 Centre Street, Danvers MA 01923
THANK YOU for your support.
Enjoy these last days of summer!