Abolish Racist School Mascots
An Act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools in the Commonwealth
Indigenous leaders in the Commonwealth and the Indigenous Legislative Agenda are calling for an end to public school mascots that make caricatures of Native American words, symbols, and culture. My bill ends the practice of allowing schools to have team names, logos, or mascots that refer to Indigenous people or use inappropriate symbols. It also bans mascots that denigrate any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group.
Advance Equity in Agriculture
An Act promoting equity in agriculture
The state has an obligation to set agricultural policy that ensures that all Massachusetts residents have equal opportunity to farm. We know people of color are significantly underrepresented among Commonwealth farmers, but we do not have the data, understanding, or plans needed to promote increased diversity and opportunity. My bill establishes a Commission on Agricultural Equity to develop recommendations for supporting investments, policies, and practices that promote racial equity in agriculture in the Commonwealth.
Allow Gender-Neutral Bathrooms
An Act establishing gender-neutral bathrooms
Sex-segregated restroom facilities fail to accommodate the needs of every person, posing special difficulty to transgender and gender nonconforming students. Research shows that nearly two-thirds of transgender students avoid school bathrooms because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. My bill directs changes to the state building code to allow gender-neutral bathrooms in renovations or new construction.
The high-stakes MCAS test required for graduation in Massachusetts offers little benefit for students, instead laying bare and perpetuating inequities in our education system. Teaching to the test narrows curriculum and hinders students from developing advanced thinking and problem-solving skills. My bill directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to permit students to demonstrate the competency required to graduate high school without passing a standardized test like the MCAS. The bill also sets up a process to identify and work with schools needing comprehensive support and improvement and allows schools to work with their local community to develop an improvement plan.
» Thrive Act (SD.2902) Fact Sheet from the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Expand Access to Affordable Higher Education
An Act improving access to affordable higher education
Massachusetts has over 30 separate higher education financial aid programs. These overlapping programs are confusing to students and families and complicated and expensive to administer. Students may decide that it is too confusing or too challenging to navigate both the financial aid process and the application process, presenting a significant barrier to accessing higher education. My bill directs the Department of Higher Education to improve our fragmented and overlapping higher education financial assistance programs.
Fund Special Education Fairly
An Act establishing a special education funding reform commission
The state’s formula for funding school districts assumes that every school district has the same percentage of students who access special education services, rather than accounting for the actual number of students in each district who access special education services. This means that students with disabilities can suffer from inadequate resources due to a funding formula that shortchanges many school districts. My bill sets up a Commission to review the Commonwealth’s system for funding special education and make recommendations for a more equitable system that will provide adequate funding to local school districts to meet the costs of providing high quality education to students with disabilities.
Help Students Access Affordable Community Colleges
An Act improving access to affordable community college
Too many high school students are unaware of available financial aid and affordable higher education options. Additionally, a loophole in our financial aid system blocks students with tuition and fee waivers from using financial aid for courses taught at night or by outside experts. My bill directs the Department of Higher Education to develop and distribute materials, including an informational pamphlet and website, to high school juniors and seniors about affordable and accessible higher education and financial aid opportunities, particularly opportunities at public community colleges. The bill also ensures that all students are offered the opportunity to complete the free FAFSA form that is the basis for seeking college aid. The bill additionally allows students to use financial aid tuition and fee waivers for any course offered at a community college.
Honor Indigenous People
An Act establishing an Indigenous Peoples Day
Indigenous people in the Commonwealth and across the United States have been working to provide accurate information to the public about Christopher Columbus, the impact of colonization, and the injustices perpetrated against Native Americans. My bill directs the Governor to join 19 other states in declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day to acknowledge the history of genocide and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in our Commonwealth and nation, and to celebrate the thriving cultures – past and present – of Indigenous peoples and their tribal nations.
Make Trails Accessible for All
An Act expanding access to trails for people of all abilities
Outdoor trails help connect people with nature, inspire healthy activities, and protect natural places – while also fostering liveable and welcoming communities. Too often, people with disabilities are not able to access public trails and the many benefits that come with this access. My bill establishes a state policy to maximize equitable access to trails, outdoor spaces, and outdoor recreational activities for people of all abilities. The bill establishes a working group consisting of state agencies, representatives of groups focused on disability access, conservation organizations, and others to review current access status and make recommendations on how to best implement effective access policies and procedures. The working group will hold public hearings and issue annual reports.
» Make Trails Accessible for All (S.446) Fact Sheet from Unpaved Trails for All
Protect Ratepayers from Utility Rate Hikes
An Act protecting consumers from unreasonable utility rate increases
The Department of Public Utilities consistently allows utilities in Massachusetts to make higher profits off of consumers than utilities in other states. My bill protects electricity and gas consumers by eliminating automatic annual rate hikes and limiting the return on equity that utilities can earn to no more than the average of neighboring states.
Provide Effective Peer Respite Alternatives for Mental Health Care
An Act establishing peer-run respite centers throughout the Commonwealth
Peer respites provide effective alternatives to conventional mental health interventions for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Peer respites serve people whose needs are not met in traditional mental health clinical settings. My bill provides for a peer respite center to be established in each county, including at least two targeted for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The centers will be staffed and managed by trained people who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community and have lived experience in the mental health system.
Reducing Barriers to Gender-Affirming Care
An Act relative to trans-inclusive health care access
Gender-affirming care is health care. Yet right now, insurance coverage for gender-affirming care services are subject to additional prior authorization requirements that create barriers to patients who are trying to access this care. My bill requires insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care upon receipt of one letter from a qualified mental health professional, aligning state law with the accepted World Professional Association for Transgender Health standard and reducing unnecessary administrative burdens on individuals seeking this care.
Right to Non-Binary Gender Identification
An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification
People should have the right to identify by their preferred gender on all state documents and forms. My bill requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to allow a non-binary option on drivers licenses, enables parents and caregivers to choose a non-binary option on their child’s birth certificate, allows adults to change the gender on their birth certificate, and directs the state to develop a plan to provide a non-binary option on all state forms where a gender choice is required.
Support Higher Education for Women of Low Income
An Act to expand access to the Higher Education Endowment Matching Program
The Care Center in Holyoke provides completely free two-year college education for young mothers and low-income women. The program successfully removes barriers that young women face in traditional college settings, enabling them to use their education to make extraordinary contributions to their families, their communities, and the Commonwealth. Scholarships and grants cover tuition and books, as well as transportation, child care, and meals. However, this unique program is not eligible for the state’s endowment matching funds program available for public higher education institutions. My bill provides these matching funds to assist the Care Center in building up its college endowment and continuing to uplift young women.