Author: Caitlin Duffy

FY2020 House Budget

During the week of April 22nd, the Massachusetts House debated changes to the first version of the Budget released by the House Committee on Ways and Means. This post will take you through that process and what I advocated for this session.

  1. Letter to House Ways & Means
  2. House Ways & Means Budget Released
  3. House Budget Debate

1. Letter to House Ways and Means

On March 19, 2019, I wrote a letter outlining my priorities for the FY2020 House Budget addressed to the House Chair of Ways and Means, Aaron Michlewitz. In the letter, I outlined my budgetary priorities, both local and statewide. Priorities included:

  • Boston Landmarks Orchestra funding
  • Magazine Beach Restoration in Cambridgeport
  • West End Museum in Boston
  • Pre-K Grant Funding
  • Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporations
  • DCR State Parks and Recreation Operations

2. House Ways and Means Budget

On April 10, 2019, the House Ways and Means Budget was released.


3. House Budget Debate

After the House Ways & Means Budget is released, members are given time to file amendments to the budget to reflect changes that they would like to see in the final House Budget.

Legislative Update: Texting and Driving Ban

More information about the bill can be found below

On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, the Massachusetts State House of Representatives passed legislation to require the use of hands-free mobile telephones while driving. This legislation was passed with public safety in mind as we have increasingly seen tragedy in our communities as a result of texting while driving. The legislation also included important data collection information to make sure this and other traffic laws are not enforced in a discriminatory manner. I was proud to vote YES on this important issue. The bill is now before the Senate, which has indicated it will take it up in the next few weeks.


Texting and Driving Ban

H. 3793 – An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving

  • Prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices by drivers unless the device is being used in hands-free mode, with a single touch or swipe allowed to active hands-free operation.
  • Does not apply to public safety personnel or first responders performing their duties, and drivers could still use mobile electronic devices in certain emergency situations
  • Requires annual analysis of racial and demographic identification of drivers issued citations during traffic stops. (The police must issue citations for all car stops and provide a warning or issue a ticket.)
  • Study created to determine how to expand data collection for stops when a citation is not issued.

Legislative Update: Lifting the Cap on Kids and Banning Conversion Therapy

On Wednesday, March 13th 2019, the Massachusetts State House of Representatives passed legislation to ban conversion therapy on minors and legislation to expand access to public assistance for families. Both bills were priorities of mine this session (and past sessions) and I am excited vote for them to pass the House. More information about each can be found below.


Lifting the Cap on Kids

H. 104 – An Act to lift the cap on kids

  • This bill repeals a 1990’s punitive welfare reform that did not allow a family to receive additional welfare benefits for children born after the family started to receive benefits.
  • The current law means that parents have to split meager benefits meant for one child between two children. Parents typically receive $100 per month per child.
  • The bill directs that the Department of Transitional Assistance, which oversees the program, to implement the changes by 9/1/19 with aid retroactive to 1/1/2019.

Banning Conversion Therapy

H. 140 – An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation

  • Prohibits health care providers from advertising for or engaging in efforts that attempt or purport to impose change on the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient less than 18 years of age.
  • The controversial conversion therapy that this legislation would ban has been used to try to “convert” someone who is LGBTQ to being heterosexual, treating a person’s sexuality as an illness rather than a part of who they are.

Legislative Update: Supplemental Budget

Legislative Update

H.3505 – An Act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2019 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for certain other activities and projects

On Wednesday, February 28th 2019, the Massachusetts State House of Representatives passed H.3505, a $135 Million supplemental budget. I joined my colleagues in voting affirmatively to pass the measure. The supplemental budget addresses multiple areas including heating assistance, enhanced support for victims of sexual assault, and programs to help those experiencing homelessness. Below are some highlights of what the bill included.


Increased funding for Low Income Heating Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)

Amount: $30 million (+$19 million from Governor’s proposal)

Details: This program ensures that all families in the Commonwealth can afford to keep their heating on through the winter. The additional funding makes up for the Federal funding shortfall.


Increased funding for Emergency Shelter Assistance for people and families experiencing homelessness

Amount: $10,046,612 (level with the Governor’s proposal)

Details: This program helps individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness by increasing the amount of shelter beds to help accommodate the needs of the State.


Increased funding for sexual assault evidence testing kits

Amount: $8,000,000

Details: This program will aid in addressing the backlog of sexual assault kits in the State and ensure that we are on the right path towards bringing justice for victims of sexual violence.


Increased funding for the costs associated with an independent statewide examination of the safety of gas distribution infrastructure

Amount: $1,482,694

Details: These funds will go toward addressing the safety hazard of poorly maintained pipelines. After the disaster that took place in the Merrimack Valley in September, the State is incentivized to take a good look at what can be done to prevent another emergency.


Authorization of Collective Bargaining Agreements

Amount: n/a

Details: The Supplemental Budget included authorization for collective bargaining agreements previously made between employers and trade unions for the following organizations/departments:

  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation and DOT Unit A – National Association of Government Employees, Clerical and Administrative Workers
  • University of Massachusetts and the New England Police Benevolent Protection Organization, Amherst Campus, Unit A07
  • University of Massachusetts and the Maintenance and Trades Unit/MTA/NEA, Lowell Campus, Unit L93
  • University of Massachusetts and Classified and Technical Union, Lowell Campus, Unit L92
  • Sheriff of Bristol County and the National Association of Government Employees, Maintenance Workers, Unit C
  • Sheriff of Worcester county and the New England Police Benevolent Association, Local 550, Unit SW6
  • Sheriff of Hampden County and the National Correctional Employees Union Mental Health Staff Unit, Local 131, Unit SH1