I hope this legislative update finds you well.
I would like to take a few minutes to apprise you all on the efforts I have made as your State Representative these last several months. It continues to be an honor to serve the 30th Middlesex District and I look forward to updating you as the year continues on the efforts I am making on your behalf on Beacon Hill.
Since my last legislative update, I have focused my energy on constituent services, participating in numerous committee hearings, co-sponsoring legislation, and have taken several House Chamber votes.
The governor recently signed the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that reached his desk after passing through the House and Senate, where I was able to vote in favor of increased education funding and other measures.
My work on the FY20 budget was important for securing local aid for Reading and Woburn. We were able to increase Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by almost $30 million. Of this aid, we have allocated $6,357,286 for Woburn and $3,442,525 for Reading to help offset the rising costs of running a municipality.
Both communities will also see a much-needed increase in Chapter 70 education funding with the passing of this year’s budget. Funded at the highest level ever with $5.17 billion dedicated to education, this is over a $268 million increase over FY19. This influx of necessary education funding means Reading is set to receive $10,834,809 with Woburn receiving $9,422,229.
Working with my colleagues, below are some of the budget earmarks I was proud to advocate for and secure for the two communities:
• $25,000 to begin the design work for a pedestrian footbridge over the tracks at Anderson Regional Transportation Center in Woburn
• $25,000 for the Woburn Council on Aging transportation van
• $25,000 for shuttle bus transit feasibility study to connect Anderson Regional Transportation Center in Woburn and Hanscom Air Force Base to key regional hubs
• $75,000 for safety improvements at Reading Memorial High School
• $60,000 for a new Elder & Human Services van for Reading
• $50,000 towards pedestrian crosswalk lights on Lowell Street in Reading
I would like to thank Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Minority Leader Bradley Jones, and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) for their help in passing necessary earmarks for our communities.
One major aspect of this year’s budget was MassHealth Drug Pricing Reform. This key measure will allow MassHealth the ability to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers, helping to drive down the costs of prescription drugs and saving taxpayers $28 million in FY20.
The House also called for over $282 million in spending for environmental programs. I recently cosponsored an adopted budget amendment issued by House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) regarding the Conservation Land Tax Credit. Raising the Credit’s annual cap from $2 million to $5 million, this amendment provides necessary funding to preserve more open space in the Commonwealth by helping to clear the almost $4.7 million in requested projects which would protect thousands of additional acres of land.
With the legislative session now in full swing, these last few months have seen many different pieces of legislation pass through the various committee hearings. As a member of the Joint Standing Committees for Education, Financial Services, and Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture (ENRA), I have participated in dozens of hearings so far this year. During this time, I have been able to witness the spirited testimonies of those advocating for legislation relating to updating the education funding formula, banning retail locations from issuing plastic bags, to establishing a student loan Bill of Rights. I was also able to testify in support of several common sense pieces of legislation I believed in.
In April, I testified in front of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities to advocate for my bill H.127, An Act to establish a registry of caretakers found to have substantiated abuse against persons with intellectual disability or developmental disability. The purpose of creating this registry is simple – to protect one of our most vulnerable populations while effectively punishing those who wrongfully commit abuse against them.
In June I joined Senator Cindy Friedman alongside Woburn constituent and advocate Angela Freitas Ortiz in front of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing to support bills related to children with complex medical needs and other special populations.
In July, with District Attorney Marian Ryan and a Reading constituent who is a domestic violence survivor, I testified in support of bill H.1437, An Act relative to visitation and family court matters in domestic violence cases. This piece of legislation would effectively close the loophole regarding visitation rights after a domestic violence crime was committed, protecting both the children of the affected family and victim of the abuse.
With the legislative session well underway, I have signed on to cosponsor several seasonably filed pieces of legislation. To name a few:
In April, I cosponsored H. 3655, an act that will require universities to provide students with written notice of the processes available for addressing sexual assault, both legally and at the university level.
In May, I cosponsored several bills:
• H. 3785, which amends legislation regarding how the state retirement system treats individuals afflicted with PTSD-related injuries;
• H. 3771, an act which updates and streamlines the process for obtaining criminal offender record information checks in the Commonwealth; and
• H. 3835, an act which seeks to meet the growing human services workforce demand by updating the base wages of entry-level and support staff
In June, I signed onto H. 3999, which removes the religious exemption for vaccinations and immunizations in our schools. Removing this exemption will protect our community members most vulnerable to vaccine-combatable illnesses- infants and those who cannot receive vaccinations due to medical conditions- through the well-researched concept of herd immunity.
In July, I cosponsored three important pieces of legislation:
• HD. 4366, which increases the operational safety of keyless ignition vehicles by requiring models for sale or lease in Massachusetts to be equipped with automatic shut-off technology;
• HD.4389, a bill that would impose a 5% fee on digital streaming providers marketing their services on public rights of way, treating them the same as cable providers. This money would then be distributed to municipalities as local aid and community media centers such as Woburn Public Media Center and RCTV; and
• HD.4398, an act establishing a hate crimes grant program, which will provide grants to primary and secondary schools with an identified need for the purpose of education, professional development, prevention, and community outreach programs aimed at combatting hate crimes.
Since the last update, the House has been busy holding numerous formal sessions to vote on many different important pieces of legislation. Below are some of the bills I have been proud to vote in favor of:
• H.69, which finances improvements to municipal roads and bridges
• H.3819, an act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2019 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for certain other activities and project
• H.3904, an act creating a state-level board of real estate appraisers
• H.3535, an act which expands agriculture preservation restrictions for hemp cultivation
• H.3987, an act establishing a Green Works infrastructure program in an effort to promote climate change resiliency and provide grants for local communities in dealing with this issue
• H.3854, an act relative to collective bargaining dues, which would protect workers’ right to form and join unions
• H.4000, an Act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2020 for the maintenance of the departments, boards, commissions, institutions and other activities of the commonwealth, while encouraging nondiscrimination and equality of opportunity in hiring
• H.3793, an act requiring the use of mobile telephones while driving to be completely hands-free
Please feel free to reach out to my office or legislative aide via email at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or call the office at (617) 722-2090. To stay up to date on everything I’m doing up at the State House and out in the district follow me on Facebook @Rich.M.Haggerty and on Twitter @richhaggerty.