The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE. It is published as received.
BOSTON – The Massachusetts House Progressive Caucus recently announced three legislative priorities for the 2019-2020 legislative session of the Massachusetts General Court.
The bills reflect the Caucus’s aim to promote social, economic, and environmental justice for all people of the Commonwealth.
The legislative priorities are:
H.3320, An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women’s reproductive health, also known as The ROE Act, filed by Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad and Representative Jay Livingstone
H.3573, An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts Residents, also known as The Safe Communities Act, filed by Representative Ruth Balser and Representative Liz Miranda
H.832, An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth, also known as the 2050 Roadmap bill, filed by Representative Joan Meschino
The legislative priorities will be the focus of the Progressive Caucus’s advocacy for this two-year legislative term.
The Caucus expects to select additional bills in several policy areas as endorsed legislation this session, as well as to continue advocating for progressive education funding and revenue measures.
“While there are many bills that our fifty-eight caucus members believe are of great importance, we have concluded that these three will have our particular attention and our collective advocacy,” said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield), who serves as Co-Chair of the Caucus.
“We believe that these bills reflect our continued commitment toward advocating for reproductive justice, empowering and protecting vulnerable populations, and ensuring that Massachusetts continues to lead on climate policy in these challenging times,” added Representative Jack Lewis (D-Framingham), who serves as the other Co-Chair of the Caucus.
The ROE Act, a new file this session, seeks to codify the principles of reproductive freedom into state law. It expands access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal anomalies and eliminates the judicial bypass system for minors seeking an abortion by replacing a judge with a doctor. It reforms outdated state laws by removing medically inaccurate language and abolishing medically unnecessary abortion restrictions, such as an unenforced 24-hour waiting period.
The bill also establishes safety net coverage for abortion for people excluded from MassHealth. The ROE Act has 92 House co-sponsors this session and is supported by the Coalition for Choice, which includes Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and the ACLU.
“I’m thankful that my Progressive Caucus colleagues recognized the need in this pivotal moment, to reaffirm Massachusetts as a leader for reproductive rights,” said Representative Jay Livingstone (D-Boston), who is one of the lead sponsors of The ROE Act. “Massachusetts residents deserve access to safe and legal abortion care and should not need to leave the Commonwealth to receive that care, as it happens today.”
The Safe Communities Act seeks to clarify the role of municipal law enforcement, court personnel, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during interactions with documented and undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts.
It bars law enforcement and court personnel from asking people about their immigration status, unless required by law. It also instructs that before Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) questions someone in local custody, the police must obtain their consent using a form that explains their right to decline an interview or have their own attorney present.
The bill bars police, court officers, and jail officials from notifying ICE that someone is about to be released.
Furthermore, it ends contracts with ICE that allow state and county personnel to act as federal immigration agents, at state taxpayers’ expense.
A final provision requires law enforcement agencies to train their personnel on this law, and creates a mechanism to file a complaint with the relevant agency or the Attorney General if there is an alleged violation.
The Safe Communities Act has 76 House co-sponsors this session and is supported by: the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), ACLU of Massachusetts, Jewish Community Relations Council, Anti-Defamation League, National Association of Social Workers (MA), Committee for Public Council Services, and the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action.
“The goal of the Safe Communities Act is to maintain Massachusetts’ commitment to ensuring that the civil rights of all who live here, including immigrants and refugees, are protected,” said Representative Ruth Balser (D-Newton), who is one of the lead sponsors of The Safe Communities Act. “Recognizing that the enforcement of immigration laws is a federal
responsibility, it is important to note that nothing in this bill violates federal law. The bill ensures that state and local officials will leave the job of enforcing immigration laws to federal officials and that Massachusetts residents are informed of their rights. It is our hope that by enacting this bill, Massachusetts will continue to be a safe and welcoming home to the many immigrants who enrich our communities.”
“In the current climate, many immigrants in Massachusetts are avoiding medical treatment, 911 services, and court or police protection for fear that they will be deported away from family members—especially their children,” noted Representative Liz Miranda (D-Boston), the other
confidence in our local institutions by allowing our police and courts to focus on protecting public safety, as was recently recommended by the Major Cities Chiefs Association meeting in Miami. Not only is this good public policy, it’s also a reflection of our values as a state, and as a
The 2050 Roadmap bill, a revised version of former Representative Frank Smizik’s Global Warming Solutions Implementation Act, seeks to revitalize the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).
The 2050 Roadmap updates the GWSA’s goal to net zero emissions by 2050 and develops an intentional, equitable, and people-centered plan that engages all sectors to reach this reduction.
The bill creates new accountability and transparency for the implementation of fair and effective emission reduction measures. The 2050 Roadmap provides the administration with additional tools and resources to fight climate change, while achieving a clean environment and
The 2050 Roadmap bill has 55 House co-sponsors this session and is supported by: CERES, Clean Air Task Force, Conservation Law Foundation, Elders Climate Action, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Gas Leaks Allies, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Health Care Without Harm, League of Women Voters, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Mass Climate Action Network, The Nature Conservancy, RENEW Northeast, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“In the face of rising seas and temperatures, I’m grateful to my colleagues for recognizing the urgency to create a comprehensive, long-term plan to reduce Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas emissions, and selecting the 2050 Roadmap bill as a legislative priority,” said Representative
Joan Meschino (D-Hull), who is the lead sponsor of the 2050 Roadmap bill.