Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide (CO2) over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, an estimated 25% of global warming is driven by human-caused methane emissions. Yet, Massachusetts’ emissions estimates use inaccurate factors when it comes to accounting for methane emissions, leading to a dramatic undercount of the state’s methane and total emissions. This inaccurate accounting leads to insufficient policy. My bill requires the use of scientifically accurate warming impact factors for methane emissions and requires regular, accurate updating of greenhouse gas emissions estimates.
Address Carbon Pollution in Building Materials
An Act incorporating embodied carbon into state climate policy
The building sector is a major consumer of energy and driver of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to a commitment to energy efficient or net-zero energy buildings, the Commonwealth must also reduce embodied carbon in building materials, and operational carbon emitted as a result of operating the building. My bill creates a state-wide body to oversee the roll out of best practices in measuring and tracking carbon, help boost carbon counting literacy for all those engaged in the building sector, and change building codes with a goal of reducing the carbon embodied in buildings and carbon emissions.
» Embodied Carbon (S.2090) Fact Sheet by the Massachusetts Climate Action Network
Allow Local Option Fee on Sales of Luxury Homes to Build Affordable Housing
An Act granting a local option for a real estate transfer fee to fund affordable housing
Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing remain major crises in Massachusetts. Cities and towns need funds to support the development of affordable housing in their communities. My bill allows cities and towns to levy a local fee on the transfer of luxury houses, with the money generated put into that municipality’s affordable housing trust fund.
» Affordable Housing (S.1771) Fact Sheet from Local Option for Housing Affordability Coalition
Assist Local Communities with Foster Student Transportation Costs
An Act fairly reimbursing local school transportation of foster children
When a foster child gets placed with a family outside their original city or town, it is often best for the child to remain at their original school. The district where the child attends school is required to pay for the child’s transportation. There are limited federal funds available to cover the cost, and under federal law the state is supposed to make up the rest. However, the state does not make these payments, leaving local school districts with an unreimbursed cost of around $4 million. My bill directs the state to reimburse schools for any foster student transportation costs not covered by federal funds.
Encourage Food Donations
An Act encouraging the donation of food to persons in need
Food insecurity levels across the Commonwealth remain high, but approximately 900,000 tons of food still end up in Massachusetts landfills every year. My bill facilitates the donation of food by extending liability protection in existing law to allow for direct donations of food from individuals or organizations, and allows for a tax credit of up to $5,000 for the donation of food to non-profit organizations.
Ensure Regional Equity in Quabbin Watershed
An Act relative to the Quabbin watershed and regional equity
The communities surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir steward an invaluable resource that provides pristine water to millions of people in eastern Massachusetts. Yet under current law, these Quabbin watershed communities may not use this water, and receive minimal compensation for their efforts and sacrifice. My bill provides for modest payments to Quabbin watershed communities for local municipal needs, water infrastructure, and non-profit organizations providing health, welfare, safety, and transit services. The bill also provides for more representation of Connecticut River Valley interests on the MWRA Board.
Fair Reimbursement to Rural Cities and Towns
An Act to reform payments in lieu of taxes for state-owned land
The state “PILOT” (payments in lieu of taxes) program is supposed to reimburse municipalities for loss of tax revenue due to tax-exempt state-owned land within their borders. Within the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district, cities and towns steward thousands of acres of protected forest, recreational areas, and properties that house public universities and other state facilities. Yet a 2020 Auditor’s Report confirmed what many have long known: the state dramatically shortchanges western Massachusetts cities and towns, by millions. Changes made in 2016 disproportionately reward affluent urban and suburban communities in eastern Massachusetts. My bill rebalances the formula for distributing PILOT funds based on the recommendations in the Auditor’s report. It will result in fair reimbursement to western Massachusetts cities and towns to make up for lost revenue due to state-owned land in our region.
Help Low Income Workers
An Act improving the earned income credit for working families
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) assists 400,000 low- and moderate-income households in Massachusetts. It has been proven to lift families out of poverty and increase employment by encouraging people to work. This, in turn, boosts recipients’ long-term earnings and improves health outcomes. My bill increases the state supplement to the federal credit, expands age eligibility, and allows people without a social security number to qualify.
Improve Road Safety and Save Lives
An Act prohibiting video recording or broadcasting while driving
Driving safely requires a driver’s full attention. Recording a video while driving is inherently dangerous, yet in recent years, there has been an increase in video blogging, or “vlogging,” while driving. My bill bans a driver from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving. It addresses a loophole in our current law to make sure that drivers focus their attention solely on the road and their driving. This bill honors Charlie Braun, a gifted and beloved musician and community leader who was tragically killed when he was struck by a car while riding a bike in Northampton. Tragically, the driver’s attention was diverted by a FaceTime video call while she was driving.
Make All Schools Healthy and Green
An Act establishing a Green and Healthy Schools working group and implementation plan
Too many students and educators are forced to spend their days in sub-substandard school buildings that are unhealthy places to work and learn. The pandemic brought more visibility to this long standing crisis. During the 2021-22 session, we passed legislation I filed calling for a comprehensive assessment of school buildings’ energy efficiency, ventilation, and other environmental and health concerns. My bill directs the state government to develop an accountable plan for implementing and enforcing green and healthy school standards for all schools by 2050 so that students can learn and our educators can teach in an environment that is healthier and more conducive to learning.
No New Prisons and Jails
An Act establishing a jail and prison construction moratorium
Massachusetts must reduce the number of people incarcerated in jails and prisons, address the root causes of incarceration, and invest in community-based alternatives to prison. My bill imposes a 5-year moratorium on the construction or expansion of jails, prisons, and other correctional facilities.
» Prison Construction Moratorium (S.1979) Fact Sheet from Families for Justice as Healing
» Prison Construction Moratorium (S.1979) Policy Memo from Families for Justice as Healing and National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
» Prison Construction Moratorium (S.1979) Fact Sheet from the Women & Incarceration Project at the Center for Women’s Health & Human Rights within Suffolk University
Protect Homeowners’ Equity When Facing Tax Foreclosure
An Act protecting equity for homeowners facing foreclosure
When homeowners fall behind in their property taxes, cities and towns can foreclose on and take ownership of the entire property. Municipalities are then free to sell the property, keeping all of the profits – even if the amount far exceeds the back taxes owed. My bill ends this process of taking all equity from those facing tax foreclosures. The bill provides that any equity remaining beyond the tax debt will be paid to the homeowner. The bill also improves the notice system to warn taxpaying homeowners that they may lose their home due to unpaid taxes.
Protect Homes of Deceased MassHealth Members
An Act protecting the homes of seniors and disabled people on MassHealth
MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, demands repayment after death from the estates or families of low-income people who received Medicaid health care services after age 55. Over 90 percent of these repayments to MassHealth come from the sale of the family home. My bill limits the estate recovery program so that repayment is only sought where it is required by the federal government. This bill also strengthens advance notice requirements and expands hardship waiver criteria.
» Estate Recovery (S.726) Fact Sheet from MassNAELA, MLRI, and DPC
Protect Patients and Operating Room Staff from Toxic “Surgical Smoke”
An Act protecting patients and health care workers from exposure to surgical smoke
“Surgical smoke” is the term for the vapor produced by the destruction of tissue by lasers or electrosurgical devices during surgery. The surgical smoke can contain toxic gasses and vapors such as benzene, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde, as well as dead and live material, including blood tissue particles, bacteria, and viruses. It’s a serious risk to nurses, surgeons, and other operating room personnel who inhale the contaminants. My bill requires all hospitals and freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities to use smoke evacuation systems to protect against exposure to these toxic contaminants and plumes.
» Surgical Smoke (S.1332) Fact Sheet from the Massachusetts Nurses Association
» Surgical Smoke (S.1332) FAQs from the Massachusetts Nurses Association
Promote Solar Power Over Parking Lots
An Act promoting solar energy canopies on large parking lots
Parking lots provide an untapped resource for generating solar power without disturbing natural landscapes. Solar canopies over parking lots not only provide clean renewable energy, but also provide shade, improve parking lot lighting, and protect vehicles and drivers from adverse weather conditions. My bill establishes an incentive program to encourage the development of solar energy canopies over commercial parking lots, in the form of reduced or deferred taxes, payments, or other financial or regulatory incentives.
Remove Cap on Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration Projects
An Act expanding access to the fossil fuel free demonstration project
In 2022, Massachusetts approved an historic law allowing up to ten municipalities to prohibit the use of fossil fuels in new construction. Banning new fossil fuels hook-ups is a necessary first step towards weaning ourselves off of polluting and unhealthy gas, oil, and other fossil fuels. These ten slots filled up quickly, and there’s now a waiting list of cities and towns ready to take strong action to meet the Commonwealth’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. My bill opens up this local option for any municipality that wants to implement a ban on the use of carbon-polluting fossil fuels in new construction and meets the affordable housing criteria required by the original law.
» Fossil Fuel Free (S.2093) Fact Sheet from ZeroCarbonMA
Support Local Municipal and Public Safety Buildings
An Act Creating a Municipal and Public Safety Building Authority
Municipal buildings, like town offices, fire stations, police stations and highway facilities are critical to the operations of the municipality and the maintenance of roads and other infrastructure. Yet, many small towns in western Massachusetts and around the state do not have the tax base or borrowing ability to build new or upgrade their aging or inadequate municipal or public safety buildings. My bill creates an independent public authority, similar to authorities that help finance municipal school buildings and libraries, to provide matching funds for local municipal and public safety buildings.
Tax Benefits for All Farms
Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to agricultural and horticultural lands
Currently, the state Constitution recognizes the importance of agriculture by allowing farm land to be taxed based on its value as agricultural or horticultural land, rather than as commercial or residential land. However, farms must be at least five acres to qualify under this provision. My constitutional amendment allows smaller-sized farm parcels to qualify. This change would benefit urban farmers who often pay exorbitant property taxes, new farmers who often cannot find or afford large parcels of farmland, and existing farmers who want to expand production to smaller parcels.