Category: Consumer Protection

Rep. Livingstone’s 2017-18 Legislative Agenda

Filed Legislation

2017-2018 Legislative Session

I am so thrilled to share some of the bills that I have filed this legislative session. Our team hit the ground running with bills spanning topics like criminal justice reform, protecting civil liberties, encouraging social justice, and promoting education. Here are some bills that I am particularly excited about this session:

HD2550 – An Act relative to criminal forfeiture
This bill repeals and replaces the Commonwealth’s existing forfeiture law, which received an F grade from the Institute of Justice in a recent 50-state survey. Currently property owners in Massachusetts do not have to be convicted of a crime or even charged with one to permanently lose their money, cars, businesses, or even their homes.  This bill would make three critical reforms to change that situation and align Massachusetts law with the laws of most other states:

  • Require a criminal conviction before a person’s property can be forfeited,
  • Require the state to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture, and
  • Eliminate a profit-motive for seizing personal property by directing forfeited property to the General Fund instead of the law enforcement agency.

HD 655 – An Act creating a common application for core food, health, and safety-net programs
This bill works to address the disparity commonly known as the “SNAP Gap.” Currently, there are about 680,000 people who are receiving Mass Health benefits and are likely eligible for SNAP but are not receiving SNAP benefits, for which the State is currently reimbursed by the federal government. MassHealth and SNAP have separate application processes that ask for the same basic information, duplicating efforts and creating more work for both the state and applicants. This legislation would create a common application portal to let low income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time. This would lay a foundation for a comprehensive common application portal for safety-net benefits which would reduce duplicate data collection and increase the efficiency of State Government while helping our State’s low-income population.

HD 3502 – An Act for uniform fiduciary access to digital assets
As we increasingly use online services, it becomes more important to consider our digital afterlife. This bill would address the accessibility and privacy of a person’s digital information in the event that they pass away. This privacy-centric legislation accomplishes these important goals by balancing the interests of all parties – the privacy of the deceased user; the privacy of the people with whom the deceased corresponded; the needs of the fiduciary; and existing federal law (Electronic Communications Protection Act). The legislation would empower the user to decide if and how their communications and digital content are accessed via user level controls.

HD 400 – An Act Authorizing the establishment of a commission to evaluate student health
Creates a legislative commission to address and evaluate the growing health needs of students across the Commonwealth, including exploring the need for more school nurses in each school.  Currently, class room teachers spend too much time addressing the health needs of their students, instead of teaching, because of a lack of school nurses.

HD 2131 – An Act protecting sunlight in certain public parks
Builds on the existing State Legislative Protection on the Boston Common and Public Garden by including the Charles River Esplanade, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, and Magazine Beach Park.  This bill does not weaken any current protections or allow any new exceptions.

HD 401 –  An Act to clarify the meal break law and to establish private enforcement
Massachusetts employees are legally entitled to meal breaks after six hours of employment.  Courts may punish employers who violate this law with a fine of $300 to $600 dollars, but at present, only the Attorney General has the authority to prosecute such offenders.  This legislation would allow employees to go to court without being accompanied by the Attorney General, thereby alleviating the burden on state resources while providing employees with a more effective remedy.  Ultimately, this bill seeks to treat meal break requirements in the same legal manner as wage payments and enact the same remedy for violators.

HD 664 – An Act expanding eligibility for diversion to treatment for criminal offenders
Current law allows 18-22 year old individuals who are charged with a crime but have never been convicted of a crime to avoid a criminal record by successfully completing a drug treatment program. This bill would expand eligibility to defendants of any age that are facing district court charges, pending a judge and probation’s approval.

HD 1681 – An Act to establish transparency with respect to government surveillance
Current state law does not provide criteria for the use of video recording devices by government entities. While there are some regulations at the state and local level, government entities often have wide discretion to install recording devices without any public input, record and keep for long periods of time the data collected, and give broad access to that data. This situation has the potential to infringe on the civil liberties of the law-abiding citizens unnecessarily. The bill attempts to address this situation by providing the public more information about what is happening and create standard rules for the use of recording devices.

HD 654 – An Act for fairness regarding line of duty benefits
Under current law, a $300,000 payment is given to the family any public safety employee who was killed or sustained injuries in the line of duty. This bill expands that eligibility to include the family of any public employee who dies while on the job. It also expands eligibility for the Public Service Scholarship Program.

HD 2955  – An Act to increase fair housing protections for survivors of domestic violence
This legislation will add survivors of domestic violence as a protected class under fair housing laws. This bill will protect domestic violence survivors against unfair evictions, different rental agreement terms, and denial of lease/sale. These protections currently apply to public housing but not private housing.


To learn more about the legislation that I have filed, you can check out my public legislative page here, or reach out to my Legislative Aide, Caitlin Duffy, by email ( or by telephone (617-722-2396)

Rep. Livingstone’s Bill Co-Sponsorship for 2017-18 session

Legislative Agenda

Co-Sponsored Legislation
2017-2018 Legislative Session

Below are all of the bills that I have decided to co-sponsor this session organized by their subject area. As you can imagine, leafing through thousands of bills can be very cumbersome, so I would like to thank all of my constituents that wrote in with their requests. If you didn’t have a chance to write in, no worries! Contact information is below to remain updated on whichever bill(s) that you would like.

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To learn more about the legislation that I have filed and co-sponsored, you can check out my public legislative page here, or reach out to my Legislative Aide, Caitlin Duffy, by email ( or by telephone (617-722-2396)

State House News: Kinder Morgan Suspends Work, Spending On Pipeline Project

By Michael Norton

Citing inadequate commitments from prospective customers, Kinder Morgan on Wednesday suspended further work and spending on its Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline project, which held the possibility of helping Massachusetts and the New England to meet its energy and electricity cost goals.

Less than a year ago, in July 2015, the company’s board authorized Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Company to move forward with a $3.3 billion investment in pipeline capacity from Wright, New York to Dracut, Massachusetts. On Wednesday, Kinder Morgan said that approval was based on contractual commitments at the time and expected commitments from additional gas distribution companies, electric distribution companies and other “market participants” in New England.

“Unfortunately, despite working for more than two years and expending substantial shareholder resources, TGP did not receive the additional commitments it expected,” Kinder Morgan said in a statement on Wednesday. “As a result, there are currently neither sufficient volumes, nor a reasonable expectation of securing them, to proceed with the project as it is currently configured.”

Environmentalists, rival energy sectors and some public officials have questioned both the costs of the pipeline project and the wisdom of increasing the region’s already heavy reliance on natural gas. Kinder Morgan had hoped the project would address natural gas transportation problems affecting the Northeast and alleviate “uniquely high” gas and electricity costs.

Kinder Morgan attributed the lack of contracted capacity to the lack of regulatory procedures in the New England states to facilitate binding commitments and the “open-ended” nature for establishing those procedures in each state.

“In addition, innovations in production have resulted in a low-price environment that, while good for consumers, has made it difficult for producers to make new long term commitments. Further, current market conditions and counter-party financial instability have called into question TGP’s ability to secure incremental supply for the project. Given these market conditions, continuing to develop the project is not an acceptable use of shareholder funds,” Kinder Morgan said.

TGP plans to “continue to work with customers to explore alternative solutions to address their needs, particularly local distribution companies that are unable to fully serve consumers and businesses in their areas because of the lack of access to abundant, low-cost domestic natural gas,” Kinder Morgan said.

Asked earlier in the day whether Kinder Morgan and other pipelines developers should be able to pass along the cost of construction to consumers, Gov. Charlie Baker said:
“I’m not paying too much attention to the Kinder Morgan project, primarily because most of that is driven by federal policy and not by state policy. What I’ve said all along is the best way for Massachusetts and New England to ensure that people here in the Commonwealth get the best price they possible can on their electricity and their thermal piece is to have a proactive approach to this and my hope and my anticipation is that that pro-active approach will look like a bill that comes out of the House at some point during this session and gets debated and enacted and includes what I’ve talked about before, which is a combo platter of the two I’m particularly interested in which is hydro and wind,” Baker said.

Energy industry stakeholders – from natural gas to offshore wind and solar and hydro producers – are jockeying for a piece of the region’s supply mix as lawmakers contemplate major energy policy legislation and the looming 2019 shutdown of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, a major source of carbon-free power.

“Kinder Morgan is stopping the pipeline simply because it is both expensive to ratepayers and simply not needed,” Environmental League of Massachusetts President George Bachrach said. “Massachusetts has the capacity to develop its own energy in solar, wind and hydro and create new industries and jobs here, rather than importing energy and exporting our dollars and jobs.”

[Matt Murphy contributed reporting]
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District Forum on GMOs and GMO Labeling, October 20, 7-9 PM, Watertown

As the State Representative for the 8th Suffolk District, I’ve been happy to support Representative Ellen Story’s GMO Labeling legislation. I am a co-sponsor on the bill and happily testified along with my colleagues, to move the bill along. Below is a slide from a slide show of legislative co-sponsors of the GMO Labeling bill that MassPIRG put together, as well as an invitation to a GMO Labeling forum that I will be attending in Watertown later this month. I hope to see you there!


Mark your calendars to attend this free public forum hosted by Sen. Brownsberger, Rep. Fox, Rep. Honan, Rep. Lawn, Rep. Livingstone, Rep. Moran, Rep. Rogers, and Rep. Rushing. We invite constituents from across the 2nd Suffolk and Middlesex District to attend.

Senate District Forum on


Tuesday, October 20
7:00-9:00 PM
Watertown Middle School Auditorium
68 Waverley Avenue, Watertown

This forum will provide substantive information on the science, economics, legal and regulatory frameworks, and health/environmental impacts of GMOs. The evening will feature a panel of four professors:

Dr. Sean Cash, Tufts University: Economic and Regulatory Aspects of Labeling
Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, Tufts University: Right to Know
Dr. James Tillotson, Tufts University: History of Agricultural Technology
Dr. Elizabeth Vierling, UMass Amherst: Science of Meaningful GMO Labeling

Following presentations by each of the panelists, there will be time for audience questions and comments.

More Information

If you have questions, please call 617-722-1280, email, or post a comment. Please share the flyer below to spread awareness of the forum.

Legislation on GMOs

You may be interested to know that there is a bill currently before the legislature, H.3242 An Act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act, that is supported by all the representatives hosting this forum. This bill was heard before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on September 22.

Speaker Bios

We share these bio statements from each of the panelists. A full profile may be viewed at the link on each name.

Sean CashSean Cash, PhD is an Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University with expertise in the economics and policy of food, nutrition, and the environment. His research focuses on how food, nutrition, and environmental policies affect both producers and consumers.  Ongoing and recent projects in this area include the efficacy of food label and price interventions as public health and environmental tools, including linkages to disease incidence; economics aspects of obesity; economic barriers to adherence to diabetes treatments; children’s food choices in commercial and school environments; the role of agricultural policies on nutrition; how consumers value social aspects of food relative to other attributes; and how point-of-sale health messaging impacts consumers’ demand for food.  He also conducts research in the areas of environmental regulation and resource conservation.  Dr. Cash has been involved extensively in policy and public-facing work, including testimony on childhood obesity interventions to the Canadian Parliament and service on a National Academy of Sciences panel on invasive species impacts of food trade.

Sheldon KrimskySheldon Krimsky is Lenore Stern Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning in the School of Arts & Sciences and Adjunct Professor in Public Health and Community Medicine in the School of Medicine at Tufts University. He received his BS and MS in physics from Brooklyn College, CUNY and Purdue University respectively, and an MA and PhD in philosophy at Boston University. His research focuses on the linkages between cience/technology, ethics/values and public policy. He has authored 14 books and over 200 papers and reviews that have appeared in: JAMA, Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, American Journal of Bioethics among others. His books include: Genetic Alchemy; Agricultural Biotechnology & the Environment; Biotechnics & Society, and The GMO Deception. Professor Krimsky served on the National Institutes of Health’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee from 1978-1981. He was a consultant to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. He is Board member of the Council for Responsible Genetics.

James TillotsonJim Tillotson is professor of food policy and international business at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Prior to returning to the academic world, he worked in industry, holding various research and development positions in the food and chemical sectors. His professional interests are on the influence of social, technological, economic and political factors on the food supply and food policy. Professor Tillotson teaches courses dealing with the global food business and the public policies of food. His education is in behavioral sciences (Harvard A.B. ‘53), biology (Boston University M.A. ‘56), food science and technology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD ‘64), and business administration (Un. of Delaware M.B.A. ‘69).


Elizabeth VieringElizabeth Vierling joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UMass Amherst in 2011 after 25 years at the University of Arizona. In 2008 she was named a Regents’ Professor, the top honor for UA faculty, and in 2013 she became a UMass Distinguished Professor. From 2008 – 2010 she was a Program Officer in the BIO/MCB Division of the National Science Foundation. A 1975 graduate of the University of Michigan, she received her PhD from The University of Chicago. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000, she is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Plant Biology, and in 2007 earned Germany’s prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Fellow Award. Professor Vierling has authored over 100 publications in top-tier basic science journals, has been an organizer and plenary speaker at national and international conferences and served on prestigious editorial boards, advisory boards and grant review panels. She teaches undergraduate and graduate students, and has sponsored high school students and teachers in her laboratory.

Event Flyer

Please share this event flyer to spread awareness of the forum.