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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.

Filed Legislation (2019-20)

Sponsored Legislation (2019-2020)

191st Legislative Session

This session I filed legislation to hold Massachusetts to the standard that it should be: a place of equity. With the waging war on minorities, immigrants, reproductive rights, LGBTQI rights, and an ever growing wealth disparity across the Nation, now more than ever, we need to take action to protect vulnerable populations. We must do what we can to remain an example of what progressive courage and policy can accomplish on the State Level. I filed 32 pieces of legislation this session. Below are some of the highlights.


H 3320 An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women’s reproductive health
(The ROE Act)

Assigned Committee: Judiciary Committee

This bill would improve access to affordable and safe abortions by removing unnecessary and burdensome provisions that otherwise delay and deny care. It’s not a secret that Roe v. Wade is under attack. I believe that Massachusetts should adapt accordingly to strengthen our laws that give access to reproductive health care and update the laws that lay as a barrier to access to that care .

The ROE Act would eliminate the onerous judicial bypass process that teenagers must navigate to access a safe and legal abortion, provides safety net coverage for abortion regardless of a resident’s income or legal status, expands access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal anomalies, and much more. I am working with my colleague, Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, Senator Chandler, and Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and NARAL ProChoice Massachusetts on this vital legislation for families everywhere.

Full Text


H681 – An Act to extend early voting to all elections

Assigned Committee: Election Laws Committee

In 2014, the State Legislature passed reforms to implement early voting in presidential elections. This measure was put to the test in 2016 and we have already seen a surge in voter participation. That is why I proposed HD 788, to expand early voting to all elections, including municipal elections. By expanding voting beyond a single Election Day, we are creating more opportunities for working people, young people, and people living with a disability that would require accommodation. I filed this bill with Representative Andy Vargas.

Full Text


H1173 – An Act creating a common application for core food, health, and safety-net programs

Assigned Committee: Health Care Financing Committee

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 require the State to 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. I have partnered with Senator Sal DiDomenico, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the SNAP Gap Coalition on this issue.

Full Text


H1959– An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters, and public schools

Assigned Committee: Public Health Committee

This bill would ensure access to disposable menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters, and public schools for all people who menstruate. People who menstruate should not have to choose between personal hygiene and putting food on the table, and unfortunately, that is a decision that many people must make. As the wealth disparity grows along with our appetite to provide inclusive policies for all regardless of gender identity, I believe that this is a public health issue worth taking action on. I’ve been excited to partner with Representative Christine Barber, Senator Pat Jehlen, and the Massachusetts chapter of the National Women’s Organization (MassNOW) on this legislation.

Full Text


H3358- An Act to reduce mass incarceration

Assigned Committee: Judiciary Committee

This bill would eliminate sentences for life without parole. Last term, we eliminated many mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses. The next step to reducing our incarceration rate. Currently, individuals may commit a crime when they are 19 and remain incarcerated until they die in their 70’s or 80’s without any possibility of release. This bill provides that the Parole Board should evaluate whether to parole them after 25 years. California made such a change and the recidivism rate for those released was 2%, which is incredibly low. I am partnership with Senator Joe Boncore, Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, and Prisoner’s Legal Services on this bill.

Full Text


H3362- An Act relative to the reform of unconstitutional archaic laws

Assigned Committee: Judiciary Committee

This bill would repeal archaic and regressive laws that exist in the MA General Laws, including laws criminalizing sodomy that remain on the books and could threaten LGBTQI people in the future pending federal legislation. I am partnering with MassEquality on this bill.

Full Text

Rep. Livingstone’s 2019-20 Legislative Agenda

Filed Legislation (2019-2020)

191st Legislative Session

I’m so excited to share my legislative agenda for the 191st Legislative Session! As you may know, in the House, we are given one window of time at the beginning of each Session to file legislation. Submitting proposed legislation is the first step in the cycle of a Bill becoming law. This term, I filed legislation that speaks to topics ranging from criminal justice, combating poverty, women’s rights, public health, elections reform, and much more. Below are some of the highlights. To see a comprehensive list of the bills that I filed, please click here.


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 2272 – An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters, and public schools

This bill would fund disposable menstrual hygiene products in public schools, prisons, and homeless shelters. Access to menstrual hygiene products is an incredible barrier for people who menstruate that are experiencing poverty. I’ve been excited to partner with Representative Christine Barber, Senator Jehlen, and the Massachusetts chapter of the National Women’s Organization (MassNOW) on this legislation.


HD 2548 – An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women’s reproductive health (The ROE Act)

This bill would improve access to affordable and safe abortions by removing unnecessary and burdensome provisions that otherwise delay and deny care. It’s not a secret that Roe v. Wade is under attack. I believe that Massachusetts should adapt accordingly to strengthen our laws that give access to reproductive health care and update the laws that lay as a barrier to access to that care .

The ROE Act would eliminate the onerous judicial bypass process that teenagers must navigate to access a safe and legal abortion, provides safety net coverage for abortion regardless of a resident’s income or legal status, expands access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal anomalies, and much more. I am working with my colleague, Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad and Planned Parenthood on this vital legislation for families everywhere.


HD 788 – An Act to extend early voting to all elections

Immigration Post

Immigration Policy

It is impossible to ignore the dire need of our state to step up and protect immigrants across the Commonwealth. I have heard it from colleagues and constituents alike: we cannot wait any longer. We must do what we can right now. In spite of roadblocks and hateful rhetoric, I have remained dedicated to using my office to oppose racist and xenophobic policies that hurt our communities and bolster the efforts of tenacious advocates fighting every day to let immigrant voices be heard.

Last session, I was one of the first co-sponsors of the Safe Communities Act, a bill that would strengthen protections for immigrants and keep the work of local police departments separate from ICE. I believe that this legislation was a pragmatic and meaningful way to ensure trust in police in our communities while also creating safer communities. I was pleased that so many of you agreed with that goal and pushed me to advocate as hard as I could.

Copley Square during the Immigration Rally in 2018

I worked within the legislature to organize the Progressive Caucus and meet with the Speaker. I had a one on one meetings with the Speaker to encourage him to bring the legislation to the floor. I took formal steps to push for the legislation (letters, meetings, etc…) and I took less formal approaches (conversations with colleagues and organizing). Your persistence and perspectives really helped guide me through the process of pushing the bill along.

Unfortunately, as many are aware, the bill ultimately did not come to a vote in the House. I was disappointed at our failure to ensure protections to our immigrants who are especially vulnerable under the Trump Regime.

But I don’t give up easily, and I know that you don’t either. I am going to continue to push for this piece of legislation to be voted on as soon as the 191th Formal Session begins in January. I’ll continue to push my colleagues and do whatever I can to be an advocate for immigrant families.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment below or email my office at jay.livingstone@mahouse.gov.

Thanks,

 

 

P.S. – Here is a letter that I penned to the Speaker encouraging him to move the Safe Communities Act to the floor last session.

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