Sen. Moore files 88-bill agenda for new legislative session
Sen. Michael Moore this week announced his legislative agenda for the 2023-2024 Massachusetts legislative session. His slate of 88 bills spans a wide range of topics including the cost of utilities, regulation of PFAS and other toxic chemicals, accessibility standards, tax relief, student safety, and more.
“The beginning of 2023 kicks off a new legislative session, and my team and I have been hard at work crafting a legislative agenda that responds to the needs of local residents while also tackling overarching issues facing the Commonwealth as a whole,” Sen. Moore (D-Millbury) said. I’m proud to share that I’ve filed 88 pieces of legislation to help make Massachusetts a better, more affordable, and more equitable place. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues from Central Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth to advance legislation that makes a real difference to working people.”
Highlights of Senator Moore’s agenda are listed below:
An Act building a more accessible Massachusetts – SD.893
This legislation updates state disability regulations that have fallen behind federal standards in the past decade. This bill makes Massachusetts more accessible by making changes to the Architectural Access Board (AAB), a state-level board that develops and enforces regulations designed to make public buildings accessible to, functional for, and safe for use by persons with disabilities.
If passed, this bill will add an additional member of the disability advocacy community to the AAB. It also extends the AAB’s regulatory authority to employee areas of public buildings, expands its authority to spaces around buildings like parking lots and sidewalks, and aligns the body’s definition of “public building” with ADA regulations.
Resolve establishing a commission to study energy rate procurement related to investor-owned utilities and consumer relief – SD.1882
Bay Staters deserve more transparency in how utilities set their gas and electricity rates — especially after this winter’s rate hikes. This legislation would create a commission, comprised of legislative leaders, consumer advocates, and industry representatives, that would study and draft legislation to:
Reform regulations and policies that govern how energy rates are set by investor-owned utilities in Massachusetts
Establish an emergency interest-free payment plan program for Bay Staters who receive service through an investor-owned utility
An Act establishing an internal special audit unit within the Cannabis Control Commission – SD.1900
This legislation would ensure the quality, efficiency, and integrity of the CCC’s operational and regulatory functions through the establishment of an Inspector General Special Audit Unit. The unit will exist within, but will not be subject to, the control of the CCC, and mirrors special audit units within the State Police and the Department of Transportation. The unit would be authorized to receive funds from the Marijuana Regulation Fund. The bill also requires a memorandum of understanding between the CCC, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and the Department of Public Utilities to promote communication and collaboration between the agencies.
An Act protecting consumer rights in purchasing safe and habitable homes – SD.1504
In the hot housing market of the past few years, many buyers are pressured to waive their right to a home inspection to make their offers more attractive to sellers — risking financial disaster with no recourse if a critical flaw is found after the purchase.
This legislation will establish the basic right of the consumer to have a home inspection done of the home they are about to purchase by removing the home inspection contingency clause from the Offer to Purchase form. Once the offer is accepted, the buyer can state whether they want an inspection or not and agree on a timeframe with the seller.
An Act relative to chemicals in food packaging – SD.1912
This legislation would ban the sale or use of packaging that is manufactured with PFAS, chemicals that can linger in the body for decades and are known to have significant human health risks.
PFAS, or Polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a class designation that includes nearly 10,000 chemicals used to make everyday items waterproof, stain resistant, or non-stick. These chemicals have become ubiquitous in products ranging from cookware to furniture to children’s toys, despite posing dangerous health risks. Even at low levels, the toxicity of PFAS chemicals can be devastating — increasing the risk of cancer, immunosuppression, birth defects, colitis, and other diseases. Compounding these dangers is the persistent nature of PFAS chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” for their resistance to breaking down in the environment.
Eight states have already passed bans on consumer products manufactured with PFAS.
An Act relative to improving outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest
This This bill updates the existing Emergency 911 system to improve outcomes for individuals suffering sudden cardiac arrest (SAC). The Commonwealth’s E911 system responds to about 10 victims a day, but the survival rate is nearly ten times lower than other parts of the country. The legislation requires that all dispatchers be trained in telephone-CPR, adds a physician with a specialty in emergency medicine and a regional EMS expert to the State 911 Commission and adds Sudden Cardiac Arrest to the list of reportable diseases, allowing the Commonwealth to collect improved data on these incidents.
An Act improving child eye care – SD.816
This legislation implements recommendations of the Children’s Vision Report, released in 2021 by the Childhood Vision and Eye Health Commission.
If passed, this legislation would create a comprehensive system to track children’s eye care — including screenings, follow-up appointments, and treatments — whether the interaction happened at a school or a doctor’s office. The legislation would also establish an advisory committee comprised of eye care experts and stakeholders to make recommendations to improve how we deliver eye care to children.
An Act establishing a college tuition tax deduction – SD.1865
In a time when students and families across Massachusetts are struggling to afford college, we must do everything in our power to make higher education more affordable.
This legislation would allow students to deduct up to 50% of tuition and fee payments — significant relief to lower and middle-class families pursing a degree.
An Act relative to school bus safety cameras – SD.1945
This legislation would allow school districts to equip their school busses with automated traffic enforcement cameras that fine drivers who illegally pass a school bus while it is stopped with its flashing lights illuminated. The bill includes data protections for citizens and due process provisions.
At least 24 states currently have school bus stop-arm camera laws.
Resolve establishing a sexual assault counselor certification
This bill, which passed the house late last session, would convene a task force to review and make legislative recommendations regarding the training and qualifications for sexual assault counselors. The current statute allows for a wide variance between service providers about exactly what training standards should be. For example, the training requirement in state statue is 35 hours, while some centers require 80 hours of training. The statute will also benefit from improvements relative to cultural competency and other workforce issues that are not currently addressed.
An Act improving protections relative to domestic violence
This bill expands the statutory definition of domestic violence to better reflect the experience of survivors in the Commonwealth. The language adds ‘coercive control’ as a form of DV, defined as conduct that substantially restricts a person’s safety or autonomy. It also adds ‘technological abuse’ to encompass the range of abusive behaviors that occur through the internet, social media sites and mobile devices. These changes will allow survivors to secure protections for these problematic behaviors that perpetuate the cycle of domestic violence.
An Act relative to the ownership of pets by convicted animal abusers – SD.1888
This legislation prevents individuals who are convicted of animal abuse from possessing, adopting, or fostering an animal for a length of time deemed reasonable by the courts, with a minimum of five years. Any violation of an order may result in a fine of $1,000 per violation.
Resolve establishing the Harmony Commission – SD1896
The Harmony Commission, formed in memory of Harmony Montgomery, will be made up of child advocates, welfare experts, legal professionals, and state legislators and will be required to issue a public report on its findings.
The primary objectives of the Harmony Commission are to:
Study how a child’s welfare and best interest considerations are handled in Care and Protection cases and Petition to Dispense with Care cases
Study how cases disproportionally impact children of color, immigrant children, children with disabilities, LGBTQ+ children, children who have experienced trauma, and low-income children
Make recommendations on how we can better ensure the law balances the constitutional rights of parents with the best interest, wellbeing, and safety of children – particularly those who have experienced trauma
An Act relative to local approval for charter schools – SD.1863
This legislation gives communities a role in the establishment of charter schools in their area — a process that can dramatically impact traditional public school funding issues. The bill requires a vote from either a school committee or city council to approve the placement of a charter school that would draw significantly from that community.
An Act protecting safety net access for Massachusetts residents – SD.1843
This legislation would require strict benchmarks be met before closing or moving community service offices, including:
At least 120 days for legislators, local leaders, and the community to comment
Detailed data, proposals, and plans for how the closure or relocating of the office affects the community and how low-income and underserved residents will be able to access the next closest location
In the next few weeks, the House and Senate Clerks will refer newly filed legislation to legislative committees for review. Senator Moore will be working to earn co-sponsors and supporters for his legislation.
For more information on the legislation filed by Senator Moore, including a complete list of all 88 bills, visit his website at https://www.senatormikemoore.com/legislation-2024/. Additional information, including bill numbers and co-sponsors, can be found on the Legislature’s official website at https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/MOM0/.