In The People's Blog

Two bills suggested by constituents that I had the honor of filing are making positive progress this session. 

I am grateful to constituents for bringing important issues to our attention and suggesting legislative fixes. People power is what makes government work, and these two pieces of legislation are prime examples for how powerful constituent advocacy can be in creating change.

An Act protecting equity for homeowners facing foreclosure recently advanced favorably from the Joint Committee on Revenue. The bill is now in the House Committee on Ways & Means for review. The new bill number is H.4624

I first became aware of this issue when approached in October 2022 by constituents who had first-hand experience. Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that allow local governments, when foreclosing on a house, to take not only the taxes they are owed but also to keep the rest of the equity from the sale of the taxpayer’s property. 

This practice, referred to as home equity theft, is a crucial issue both the federal and state courts have grappled with this past year. On April 21 of this year, Judge Michael K. Callan of the Hampden Superior Court applied a United States Supreme Court holding to Massachusetts and ruled that home equity theft is unconstitutional. Judge Callan called on the legislature to enact legislation to change state law on the issue. Learn more about the recent ruling here

My written testimony on this legislation is here and my oral testimony is here

A second bill, An Act protecting benefits owed to foster children, addresses the longstanding practice in Massachusetts of the state intercepting monthly Social Security payments and veterans benefits paid to foster children whose parents have died or have become disabled, and depositing the payments into the state’s General Fund. 

This crucial issue was raised by a constituent in the fall of 2022. 

This is the first session legislation addressing foster children’s benefits has been introduced, and the bill is currently being considered by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. 

In collaboration with advocates, Representative Tricia Farly-Bouvier and I have also engaged in several discussions with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to end this practice. 

On May 5, the Boston Globe broke the news that DCF will no longer be withholding benefits intended for foster children. Read the full story here

My written testimony on this legislation is here and my oral testimony is here

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