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Tewksbury Legislative Delegation Update: News from Senator Finegold, Reps Nguyen and Robinson

Nguyen, Finegold and Robertson join Tewksbury Fire Chief Joseph Kearns. Learn more about the $90,000 in funding secured by the delegation

Senator Finegold Supports Bills on Genocide Education, PTSD Support, Cyber Preparedness, Voting

Genocide: When people forget about genocide, history repeats itself. We can’t forget what happened during the Holocaust. We can’t forget what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia. We can’t forget the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred by Ottoman authorities during the Armenian Genocide. We all have a duty to speak out and make sure that violent atrocities never happen again. That’s why I am so proud to support Senator Michael Rodrigues’ crucial legislation to require that every middle and high school in Massachusetts teach about the history of genocide.

PTSD: We kicked off the start of the legislative session by filing legislation alongside Rep. Garry to create a commission that would be responsible for developing a comprehensive strategy to improve health outcomes for individuals with PTSD. The commission would offer support to the brave service members who put their lives on the line for us — yet often come home to little or no support. In addition to helping veterans, the commission would also help civilians suffering from PTSD following traumatic life events. I was grateful that the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs reported this bill out favorably last session, and I hope to see this legislation come to fruition this session.

Cyber Policy: Last month, the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet, and Cybersecurity held a virtual hearing to examine cyber policy after recent attacks. Representative Campbell and I heard testimony from key stakeholders and cybersecurity experts on ways to strengthen the state’s cyber preparedness. As criminals get savvier tactics, we must be proactive in finding ways to protect our online platforms, and I think this hearing was a good first step in the right direction.

Voting: On Thursday, September 30th, I stood alongside Senate President Karen Spilka, Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, and dedicated advocates to announce that the Legislature will be debating and voting on the VOTES Act on October 6th. This landmark election reform bill will empower voters and strengthen our democracy. In 2020, mail-in and early voting options helped generate record-breaking turnout. It is now time to build on the progress we have already made and make permanent improvements to our elections. The Senate’s proposed legislation will move our election system into the modern era and help make sure that every voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this historic across the finish line.

Rep. Tram Nguyen Weighs In On Redistricting, Provides Updates on Other Bills

As you may have heard, the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting has posted new maps for State Rep and Senate districts in the Commonwealth. I was pleased to see that the 18th Essex district remained mostly the same; we gained more precincts of Andover, and I was sorry to lose one precinct in North Andover. But our Senate district has changed substantially. To learn more, see the maps here

The House also passed a number of bills, including S.2481, An Act upgrading hen welfare and establishing uniform cage-free standards, which would strengthen the 2016 animal welfare ballot law and avoid potential disruptions to the supply of products like eggs and bacon.

See more on this bill below.

We also passed H.4200, An Act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2021 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for certain other activities and projects, a $303 million supplemental budget bill to close out the FY21 state budget.

Lastly, the House passed H.3190, which would establish the Podokesaurus holyokensis (meaning swift-footed lizard) as the official dinosaur of the Commonwealth. It was truly inspiring to see so many young people from across the Commonwealth engaging in the legislative process for their very first time!

A bill that I’ve been working on, the Debt Collection Fairness Act, improves debt collection practices in several ways, including  protecting more wages from garnishment; reducing the interest rate on debts a court has determined a consumer owes; reducing the window of time to collect on debts; and clarifying that no one should be imprisoned for failure to pay a consumer debt.

If you’d like to submit online testimony on this bill before Tuesday, November 02 at 5:00 p.m., first create an account for MyLegislature and follow these instructions. If you already have an account click here.

Recently, the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight heard testimony on H3115, An Act ensuring equitable representation in the Commonwealth, aka the Data Equity bill, which requires state agencies to disaggregate the demographic data collected regarding many varied racial and ethnic groups. This bill will ensure that accurate data is collected so that there is a better understanding of the needs of all diverse communities. I have been working on this bill as an attorney long before I was elected, and I am a co-sponsor. To encourage the Joint Committee to report this bill favorably out of committee, please reach out to the chairs, Marc.Pacheco@masenate.gov and Antonio.Cabral@mahouse.gov. Please include H3115 in the subject line of the email.

I am continuing to gather testimony for my bill asking DESE to create a more culturally and racially inclusive K-12 school curriculum. If you would like to submit written testimony in support of this bill, you can email Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov and Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov. Please include “Education Committee Testimony H671” in the subject line of the email.

We are also gathering testimony for the Hate Crimes Reform bill that I filed with Attorney General Maura Healey and Senator Adam Hinds.  If you’d like to submit testimony for this bill, please contact our office at Tram.Nguyen@mahouse.gov.

Two weeks ago, we heard compelling public testimony about structural racism in the Massachusetts Probation Service. Today the Commission met to discuss the testimony, ask questions, and begin work on our report, which will lead to recommendations to improve the Probation Service to serve all probationers equitably. Anyone interested in providing testimony please reach out to my legislative director, Tobin Abraham at tobin.abraham@mahouse.gov.

Rep. David Robertson Votes to Improve Animal Welfare Ballot Question, Send Bill Improving School Meal Programs to Gov’s Desk

With a near-unanimous vote Rep. Robertson and the House of Representatives moved to implement an updated version of ballot question 3, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016. The bill implements animal welfare standards for egg-laying birds as well as calves and pigs. With only one vote in opposition, the House approved the use of newer, friendlier, more efficient vertical aviaries and made other changes based on farming practices both in-state and nationwide.

The vertical aviaries will be required to have access to airspace above and allows the birds to roost and fly in a more natural manner. Both state hen farmers and animal-activist groups supported the inclusion of the new standards. The language affirmed by voters also provides protection for calves and pigs, requiring them to have enough room to stand, turn and lay down.

The House of Representatives also sent legislation to Governor Baker stopping the public disclosure of students whose families have an outstanding lunch debt with public schools, instead directing families to federal school-lunch program resources. Previously some school districts would prohibit students and their siblings from extracurricular activities or extra-academic related programs regardless of debts, though this was not the case in Tewksbury or Wilmington.

The Carnation thanks the staffs of our congressional delegation for keeping residents updated.

These posts are from the great organizations around Tewksbury that provide updates to the Carnation.

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