Category: Justice

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.

Leaders call for ‘fair’ hotel strike settlement

Brooks Sutherland Tuesday, October 30, 2018

City leaders joined striking hotel workers  outside the Ritz-Carlton yesterday to urge Marriott to strike a “fair” settlement with its union employees.

Five city councilors and state Rep. Jay Livingstone hand-delivered a letter addressed to Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson that was signed by 30 local elected leaders. The letter, urging the CEO to reach a “fair compromise” with UNITE HERE Local 26 that would end the strike, read: “We write to express our concern with the ongoing strike of Marriott hotel workers in Boston and to voice support for our constituents’ desire to provide for themselves and their families with fair earnings and benefits from one job.”

“This is a matter of respect and dignity,” At-Large Councilor Ayanna Pressley told the Herald. “And the stabilization of their families. There’s nothing charitable about this, this is what they deserve.”

Pressley joined fellow councilors Michelle Wu, Tim McCarthy, Kim Janey and Ed Flynn. Dozens of striking workers marched up and down the front sidewalk of the hotel, banging on buckets, blowing whistles and chanting emphatically.

“We’re demanding that they end the strike and come back with a contract that works for these workers and their families,” Flynn said. “I think it’s very important to let our workers know that we’re here to make sure that we’ll always fight for them. To make sure they’re treated fairly.”

Mei Leung, a housekeeper at the Sheraton put on a poncho and spent the day fighting for what she says, “is the right thing to do.”

“We’ve been negotiating for a long time, and they don’t accept our requests,” she said. “I’m 71 years old and still have to work.”

Last week, Wu filed an ordinance that would attempt to give hourly workers more protection as it pertains to predictable, consistent scheduling, an issue raised throughout the strike.

“Overall, we are at a point in our country’s economy and politics, where more and more workers are part-time, without benefits, and trying to balance multiple jobs in order to make everything work,” Wu said. “And when you introduce the ability of corporations and companies to change schedules at the last second, that really throws everything up into the air.”

Marriott has said it does not conduct negotiations in the press.

190th Session Recap: Human Rights

190th Session Recap: Human Rights


H.1190 – An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this bill.
  • The bill prohibits health care providers (including but not limited to physician, psychologist, social worker, nurse, or allied mental health and human services professional, including marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, mental health counselor, or educational psychologist) 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.

Outcome: This bill was passed by the House in June 2018 and by the Senate in the last moments of the legislative session on July 31, 2018.  Jay hopes that it will receive final enactment in the informal sessions that will happen now until the start of next term.
To read the full text of the House bill, click here.

S.2260 – An Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women (NASTY Women’s Act)

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this bill.
  • Strikes requirement that abortions performed after the thirteenth week of pregnancy be performed in a hospital (unconstitutional via Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972)).
  • Repeals:
    • Criminalization of adultery
    • Criminalization of fornication
    • Criminalization of procuring a miscarriage
    • Criminalization of advertisement of abortion services
    • Criminalization of selling or giving away instruments or drugs to cause abortion
  • Removes restriction limiting contraception access to only married couples (unconstitutional via Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 62 U.S. 416 (1983).).

Outcome: This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here

H.1110 – An Act Establishing Three New Commissions on the Status of Women and Girls

  • Jay voted in favor of this legislation.
  • The Eastern Regional Commission will conduct an ongoing study of all women’s matters within those communities and report its findings annually to the Commission on the Status of Women. The Regional commission will recommend solutions to the identified problems.
  • The Eastern Regional Commission consists of 9 people appointed by the Commission on the Status of Women from communities around Massachusetts.

Outcome: This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here

H.36380 – An Act establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this bill.
  • Adds pregnancy and  pregnancy related conditions, including lactation and expressing breast milk, to the list of qualifiers employers cannot discriminate against
  • Prevents employers from denying reasonable accommodations for pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions
  • Prevents employer from refusing to hire a pregnant person because of the pregnancy or a pregnancy related condition
  • Includes a non-exhaustive list of reasonable accommodations:
    • More frequent/longer paid/unpaid breaks
    • Time off to recover from childbirth (paid or unpaid)
    • Seating
    • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous position
    • Job restructuring
    • Light duty
    • Private non-private space for expressing breast milk
    • Assistance with manual labor
    • Modified work schedules

Outcome:This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here.

State Senate primary is today; DA race widens

Updated April 3, 2018 — A milestone is looming during a busy election season in Suffolk County. State Rep. Nick Collins will be unopposed in the April 3 Democratic primary as he seeks to fill a vacancy in the First Suffolk Senate seat.

The Tuesday election has Collins alone on the ballot, next to a write-in option, and the Republican and Libertarian slots will be write-ins. Polls open at 7 a.m. for the district, which includes broad swaths of South Boston, Dorchester and Mattapan.

While Collins will need to face off with unenrolled candidates Althea Garrison and Donald Osgood, Sr. on the May 1 final election, the South Boston representative enters the primary in strong shape. He has some $160,000 in his war chest and the endorsements of politicians including former state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, state Rep. Dan Hunt, and most recently Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins.

Several have already pulled papers for the general election race later this year for the First Suffolk: Collins, Osgood, Duckens Petit-Maitre (D), and unenrolled candidates Garrison, Jesus Rosa, and Elciana M. Ogunjobi. Garrison, however, announced at a Reporter-moderated panel that she plans to run for the First Suffolk only in the special election, and instead run in the fall for the Fifth Suffolk seat, which she represented for one term in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, the field to replace Dan Conley as Suffolk District Attorney widens still further. Lawyer Linda Champion pulled papers on March 9 to seek the post, after Conley announced last month that he would not run for re-election.

Champion is the fifth Democrat openly seeking the seat: state Rep. Evandro Carvalho, of Dorchester, who is an attorney and a former prosecutor in Conley’s office; Greg Henning, of Dorchester, who led the Suffolk district attorney’s office gang unit and has worked in the office for about a decade; and Shannon McAuliffe, of the North End, who was director of Chelsea-based Roca, which works with gang-involved youth; and Rachael Rollins, of Roxbury, former chief legal council for Massport and former Assistant US Attorney.

Boston City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty, of South Boston, announced Monday night that he would not seek the seat.

“While I have long been interested in the DA’s position, and greatly enjoyed my time spent as a prosecutor, I will always put my home life ahead of career interests,” he said in a statement. “We have been working through a family medical matter and, while the prognosis is good, my full attention is on what is most important to me, my family. Now is not the right time for me to take on the immense obligations of a countywide campaign.”

Mayor Martin Walsh’s chief legal counsel Eugene O’Flaherty, of Charlestown is reportedly still mulling a run.

Candidates for all state and district races have until May 1 to file nomination papers.

Henning turned in over 1,600 signatures at City Hall in mid-March, his campaign said. Carvalho this week touted endorsements from state Reps Jay Livingstone of Beacon Hill, Liz Malia of Jamaica Plain, Mike Moran of Brighton, Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain, and Chynah Tyler of Roxbury a week after former US Attorney for Massachusetts, Wayne A. Budd, was announced as Carvalho’s campaign chair.

In the Fifth Suffolk state representative district, up for grabs after Carvalho decided to seek the district attorney post, seven interested parties have pulled nomination papers, though not all are still hoping to claim the seat.

Community activist Elizabeth Miranda jumped into the race on March 22. Darrin D’Wayne Howell, a Dorchester resident and former staffer for then-City Councillor Chuck Turner and a political organizer at the 1199SEIU healthcare workers union, pulled papers on March 12, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. Howell sought the Sixth Suffolk seat, won by state Rep. Russell Holmes, in 2010. In an interview with the Boston Globe in March 2017, Howell said he may seek elected office again.

Other names in contention for the Fifth Suffolk include Democrats Brad Howze, and Roy Owens, and unenrolled candidates Garrison and Steven A. Wise. Ceferina Murrell, former chief of staff for state Sen. Forry, initially pulled papers to run, but confirmed on Tuesday she would no longer be running.

State Rep. Dan Hunt, running unopposed for his 13th Suffolk seat, has submitted some signatures already, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. State Rep. Russell Holmes is also presently unopposed in his re-election bid for the Sixth Suffolk rep’s seat. Only one person— Ryan McGoff—has so far pulled papers to fill Collins’ open Fourth Suffolk seat in South Boston and parts of Dorchester.

In the 12th Suffolk House district, representing Mattapan and parts of Dorchester and Milton, incumbent state Rep. Dan Cullinane may face a second challenge from Jovan Lacet, who has pulled papers for the House seat. Cullinane faced Lacet in 2016, winning the race and defending his seat in 2016 with 54 percent of the vote to Lacet’s 34 percent.