Expand State Job Opportunities
An Act relative to state employment postings
We must have equal opportunity in hiring practices. The state falls short of this goal because there is no requirement that open state jobs be posted publicly online. My bill directs state officials to create a single, comprehensive online system to list all job openings for positions with state agencies.
Help Drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorder
An Act facilitating better interactions between police officers and persons with autism spectrum disorder
For drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorder, being stopped by a police officer can be particularly challenging. Law enforcement officers or other first responders may also have had little or no training in best practices for communicating with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My bill creates a voluntary program to make available special “blue envelopes” that hold the driver’s license, registration, and insurance cards, as well as specific instructions for the officer on the driver’s diagnosis, intentions, impairments, triggers, and contact information. In Connecticut, a similar voluntary program has been shown to reduce stress, facilitate better communication, and improve safety.
» Blue Envelopes (SD.267) Fact Sheet from Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts and The Arc Massachusetts
Stand Against Nuclear Weapons
Resolve providing for an investigation and study by a special commission relative to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change to the commonwealth of Massachusetts
Enough nuclear weapons currently exist to end human life on earth forever. The United Nations has moved to address this existential threat, and although the United States continues to produce and stockpile nuclear weapons, our Commonwealth can and should be part of the solution. My resolution declares the Commonwealth’s support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and directs the legislature to take action towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons. I have also introduced a Resolve which creates a commission to explore ways to protect the residents of the Commonwealth from the threat of nuclear weapons and to work towards the total elimination of these weapons from all countries.
» Nuclear Resolution (SD.266) Fact Sheet from Massachusetts Peace and Justice Network
Strengthen Foster Care
An Act establishing the Massachusetts foster care review office
Some 10,000 children are in placements outside their homes and in state custody due to complex issues facing their birth families. Foster care reviews are required every six months to provide oversight and make sure that each child’s service plan is safe and appropriate. Currently, these reviews are performed by the state Department of Children and Families, which also oversees the foster care system, creating a conflict of interest. My bill transfers responsibility for foster care review to a new external and independent body, the Foster Care Review Office, and allows for chronic, systemic issues with the system to be addressed.
Stop Confiscation of Federal Benefits for Children in Foster Care
An Act protecting benefits owed to foster children
As has been a longstanding practice, Massachusetts intercepts monthly Social Security payments and veterans benefits paid to foster children whose parents have died or have become disabled, using the funds to offset the state’s cost of foster care. Some $6.8 million was diverted in 2016. My bill reverses this policy and directs state officials to preserve these funds for the child to use as they transition to adulthood and independent living. This bill also establishes a reporting and accounting system to track the receipt and use of these funds.
» Protecting Federal Benefits for Children in Foster Care (S.65) Fact Sheet by the Disability Law Center and the Committee for Public Counsel Services
» Protecting Federal Benefits for Children in Foster Care (S.65) Infographic by the Disability Law Center and the Committee for Public Counsel Services
Support Rural Communities
An Act advancing equity for rural communities receiving state grants
Many rural Massachusetts municipalities have small tax bases and flat or declining populations, which can result in less state funding and leave local officials to maintain municipal infrastructure on a shoestring budget. State grant programs thereby become a unique lifeline for small and rural municipalities. My bill directs state agencies administering grant programs to give preference to rural communities, particularly those that intend to use funds to regionalize or share services.