In The People's Blog, Updates from Jo

Next Tuesday, September 24 will be a 5-ring Olympics marathon day for hearings at the Massachusetts State House. Most weeks, the House meets on Wednesdays, and the Senate on Thursdays. That leaves Tuesdays as the best day for joint House-Senate committee hearings, and so next Tuesday I have bills coming up in 5 different committees. 

In the Massachusetts legislature, every bill gets an open, public hearing before its assigned committee. At the hearing, anyone can testify, and legislators listen to oral testimony and receive written comments. As your Senator, I invite you to make your voice heard. I am happy to facilitate submission of your written testimony on any of the bills being heard, or guide you if you want to come to the State House and speak in person. Just contact my Legislative Aide, Ania Ruiz Borys, at

Below is a list of some of the bills I’m sponsoring coming up for hearing on September 24: 

Joint Committee on Public Health

I am the Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee. We will be hearing several dozen bills, many concerning nursing, developmental disabilities, and patient safety. One of the bills is one that I introduced:

  • S.1219 – Prohibits the performance of pelvic exams without express permission of a patient, unless its an emergency situation. The bill bans a practice where medical students exercise their pelvic exam skills on unconscious patients who are not told that this will happen while they are under anesthesia.

Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs 

This Committee is hearing 3 bills I introduced dealing with federal concerns. As a state senator, I feel strongly that we have an obligation to represent our constituents and speak up on issues of national concern, and so I’ve sponsored these bills:

  • S.2156 – Calls on Congress to begin proceedings for the impeachment of President Trump. I believe the evidence is clear that President Trump has abused his power and violated the duties of his office.
  • S.2157Creates a Citizens Commission concerning Massachusetts being in alignment with the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The Commission would look at the role Massachusetts-based companies have in supporting the nuclear weapons industry and recommend ways to convert them to support industries which address climate change and other relevant social needs.
  • S.2155 – Calls on our federal leaders to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy and to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first. Far from protecting us, nuclear weapons have become the greatest threat to our security and our very survival.

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

This hearing concentrates on bills that transform our economy to reduce the release of carbon pollution, the major cause of global climate change. Among the bills to be heard are two I have sponsored or cosponsored:

  • S.1932 – Requires electric utilities to upgrade their systems to promote renewable energy, particularly local-based energy resources such as wind and solar power. 

Joint Committee on the Judiciary

This Judiciary hearing covers a wide variety of bills, including proposals concerning farmers markets, worker meal breaks, animal safety and many more topics. Among the bills I am sponsoring and cosponsoring are these:

  • S.869 – Expands the tax deduction for food donations to reach more people in need and reduce food waste.
  • H.3313 – Allows the use of Fentanyl testing strips to protect against this dangerous drug contaminant that has resulted in thousands of deaths.

Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

This committee looks at local issues. I have one bill to be heard on September 24 that I’ve sponsored, along with Representative Natalie Blais of Sunderland:

  • H.4066 – Changes the name of the Sunderland Board of Selectmen to the Selectboard.


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Opinions and columns: legislator commentary by Jo Comerford