Community Newsletter - Spring 2018
House Budget Debate | State House Updates | Legislative Report |
Community Events | Welcome Casey! | In the News
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
How time has flown! We are entering June, and that means the end of the 190th legislative session is near. I have several legislative priorities that I am working to finalize before then. I'm working with advocates, health providers and insurance companies to address a problem known as “ghost networks” that many individuals and families face when seeking physical or behavioral health care. Often, individuals seeking care are unable to find accurate and reliable information about the providers available in their insurance network. Directories may appear to have an extensive list of provider options but in reality many have moved, closed their practice, are not accepting patients, or are no longer in-network. After many meetings over the past several months, we have drafted a compromise bill that addresses these concerns to improve provider networks, and this redraft has been reported favorably out of the Financial Services Committee. Now, I am working to include this issue in the House’s upcoming health care bill.
Also during this legislative session I have been working with Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan on legislation to mandate domestic violence and sexual assault awareness training for salon professionals, including hair stylists. Recognizing that salon professionals often form a strong bond with their clients and are in a unique position to recognize signs of abuse, DA Ryan has been working since 2009 to offer Cut It Out Middlesex, a local version of a national training program on the warning-signs of domestic violence and that provides tools and awareness of local resources. DA Ryan and I worked with the Chair of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee to agree on a bill that requires cosmetology schools to make domestic violence training a graduation requirement, and instructs the Division of Professional Licensure to develop online training for domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Now that it has been reported out of committee, I am working to gather support to pass this bill.
Finally, there are many other bills that the House may take up over the next few months, including bills on health care costs, housing and zoning reforms, and energy. I am looking forward to being a part of these policy discussions and will work to make these reforms as progressive and strong as possible.
As you read this newsletter, I hope you find information that helps to connect you to the work at the State House to foster more activism. Please contact me with any suggestions, and feel free to share with a friend.
Speaking in front of the State House to protest the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's decision to rescind TPS (Temporary Protective Status) for Hondurans.
House Budget Debate
Last month, the House debated the FY2019 budget, and I prioritized and supported increased investment in many critical Massachusetts programs.
On the local level, I secured funding for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to make improvements to pedestrian crossings and access to public transportation on Mystic Ave in both Medford and Somerville.
I also worked to increase funding for the Mass. Commission on the Status of Women, which supports the expanding network of regional women’s commissions and recommends solutions to increase opportunities and equality for women. My amendment, included in the House’s final budget, increases MCSW’s line item to $170,000.
Finally, I was very proud that the House again showed its longstanding support for low income families by refusing to accept Governor Baker’s proposed cuts to MassHealth, Massachusetts’ Medicaid program. Governor Baker’s plan would push over 100,000 families and individuals off of MassHealth, and into less comprehensive care that would be unaffordable for many families. By refusing to make harmful changes to MassHealth in the FY2019 budget, the legislature again shows leadership on health care.
The Senate just wrapped up debating its budget package. The House and Senate will now meet to compromise on differences between the budgets.
Joining local members of the Mass. Commission on the Status of Women, after speaking at their lobby day.
In the News:
Somerville House Delegation votes for gun control
"It has been incredibly heartening to see advocacy by families, especially students in Somerville, that brought attention to and garnered support for the ERPO bill," said Rep Barber.
Rep. Barber votes for FY19 House budget
"I am very thankful to the House for taking a strong stand against cuts to MassHealth, and for the legislature's commitment to maintaining and improving upon the strong health coverage it has led the nation on for so many years," said Rep. Barber.
Immigrants frustrated with Beacon Hill, not just DC
The loss of TPS status for thousands of Hondurans and Savadorans would mean the closing of immigrant-owned businesses, a loss of jobs and increase in foreclosures.
Somerville Cares About Prevention Annual Meeting
Thursday, June 7th, 5:30PM
Highlander Cafe at Somerville High School
Learn about what Somerville Positive Forces Youth are doing to promote prevention.
Save Our Homes Walk
Sunday, June 10th, 2PM
Somerville City Hall
Join the 15th annual walk to raise funds to prevent homelessness in Somerville.
Medford Climate Resiliency Public Meeting
Wednesday, June 13th, 6:30PM
Columbus Elementary School
Learn from Medford's climate change findings and work together to make Medford a more resilient city.
MacDonald Park Clean Up
Saturday, June 23rd, 9AM
Torbert MacDonald Park
Join Mystic River Watershed Association to clear invasive vines along the Mystic River.
Casey Kelleher is a junior political science and legal studies double major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her policy interests include affordable housing, coastal flooding, and issues pertaining to women. An alum of UMass's UWIL program, Casey is pursuing a career in public service because she believes that the government can be a force of positive change. She is looking forward to gaining knowledge about the legislative process through her internship with Rep. Barber.
Interested in interning, or know someone who is? Contact my office!
State House Updates
In March, Governor Baker signed a law I have been working on with Rep. Poirier, H.1110, An Act establishing regional commissions on the status of women and girls. This bill creates three new regional commissions, including one in Middlesex County.
When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month it would end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands of Hondurans living in the United States, I joined Centro Presente and other advocates to protest this harmful decision. TPS holders are vital members of our communities, and should be allowed to stay.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council hosted its annual Amplify event at the State House in May, and I had the honor of introducing my constituent, Andrine Pierresaint, who has received an MCC Amplify grant to develop a curriculum of creative writing workshops for teens and preteens. Andrine is a talented spoken word artist and a published author - read more about her here!
I joined my Somerville colleagues Rep. Provost and Rep. Connolly to testify before the Committee on Public Service in support of H.4365, An Act authorizing the Somerville Retirement Board to divest from fossil fuel companies, which passed unanimously by the Somerville Retirement Board and Board of Alderman. While this bill must be refiled next legislative session, I am hopeful we can work with the Committee to allow retirement boards to make these changes.
In May, I joined a group of legislators in welcoming college students from all over the Commonwealth to lobby for legislation improving policies for sexual assault awareness and reporting on college campuses. I am supporting two bills, H.4159, An Act creating a task force on sexual misconduct climate surveys for colleges and universities in Massachusetts, and H.632, An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses, which will improve campus policies on sexual violence and empower students with resources and support.
In April, the Legislature passed sweeping a criminal justice reform law that takes important steps to reduce incarceration levels and provide diversion options to people in the justice system. I mentioned in a previous newsletter my work to raise awareness and make changes to conditions and treatment of women in the prison system, and am excited that the new law includes the policy review panel on women. Women have different life experiences, responsibilities, and needs, and we must focus on how best to work with female offenders in a justice system that is primarily designed for men. I look forward to implementation of the law, including a path for juveniles to expunge their criminal histories, repeal of mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenses, and restorative justice programs, so that we can soon see impacts in our communities.
Tobacco to 21
The House recently voted to pass "An Act to protect youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine addiction," which raises the age for purchase of all tobacco and nicotine products to 21. This bill takes the lead of communities like Somerville and Medford that have made this change already, and helps prevent youth smoking.
"Red flag" / ERPO
Last week, the House passed common sense gun control legislation known as the “red flag” bill, which gives family members the ability to petition a judge to suspend a person’s license to carry or firearm identification card, if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Also known as ERPO, the bill gives families and loved ones an immediate tool to prevent possible gun violence, and is another way Massachusetts is taking the lead on gun control. I have been incredibly encouraged by the advocacy from families, and especially students in Somerville and Medford, that brought attention and garnered support for this bill. I was extremely proud to vote for it.
Upcoming Office Hours
Friday, June 15th
With W7 Ald. Katjana Ballantyne
12:30PM - 2:30PM
Saturday, June 16th
Danish Pastry House
9AM - 11AM
Friday, June 22nd
Winter Hill Brewing Company
Stay tuned for more office hours to be announced soon!
Contact me any time:
Stop by: Room 473F to meet my aide, Claire, or email her for an appointment.