On Wednesday, January 29, 2020 the MBLLC met with MassInc to discuss their recent report on electoral reform. Titled "MassForward: Advancing Democratic Innovation and Electoral Reform in Massachusetts," the report highlighted a number of barriers to electoral participation faced by minority populations. Some recommendations discussed includeed aligning local and state elections, using those savings to provide public funding for candidates, and creating an organization to educate and support prospective candidates of color.
The The Boston Foundation and The Hyams Foundation, the funders of the report, also joined the conversation to discuss potential next steps.
The full report can be viewed here.
On Friday, January 24, 2020 Rep. Liz Miranda of Boston’s 5th Suffolk district came before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Flanked by her MBLLC colleagues and other allies, Rep. Miranda spoke on the need to implement the Safe Communities Act: an MBLLC priority which she filed.
The legislation would allow us to build trust between communities and law enforcement, to create clear and uniform state-wide guidelines, and to provide mechanisms for our constituencies to be properly educated on their rights.
As is noted in the MBLLC testimony to the committee, 1 in 6 Massachusetts residents are foreign born. Those foreign born residents make up 1 in 5 workers in our State and immigrants make up $31b in yearly spending here.
The MBLLC welcomes the public to advocate in support of the bill. You can learn more through the materials below.
On Wednesday, January 22, 2020 MBLLC members joined fellow member Rep. Andy Vargas in support of legislation he filed known as the EMPOWER Act. The bill, a legislative priority for the MBLLC, would eliminate the need for a home rule petition from those municipalities that would like to lower the voting age to 16.
While before the Joint Committee on Election Laws, and on the behalf of the MBLLC, Chairman Carlos González spoke on the merits of the bill and on why it is so important for the communities we serve. Chairman González pointed to Takoma Park, Maryland as an example of success. This D.C. suburb lowered their voting age to 16, and as a result, there was a 44% turnout rate for 16 and 17 year olds following its implementation. Comparatively, the overall turnout for that same year was 11%. Takoma Park is among Austria, Brazil, and Argentina who have also lowered their voting age to 16.
MBLLC member Rep. Nika Elugardo also testified in support of the bill, as did the other to sponsors of the bill: Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler.
Information about the bill is included in the attachment below.
On Wednesday, January 22, 2020 the MBLLC and Sen. Jamie Eldridge cosponsored an important event hosted by Massachusetts Against Solitary Confinement (MASC). The event provided Legislators the opportunity to hear directly from those who have been affected by solitary confinement laws. During the event a four member panel shared stories, described examples, and spoke on the need for reform.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020 the MBLLC met with State Auditor Suzanne Bump to discuss her recent report on Municipal Police In-Service Training in the Commonwealth. Auditor Bump's report included five key findings and four recommendations. Most notably, recommendation four recommended the implementation of a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) system. The implementation of a POST system has been something championed by the Caucus for many years now with Rep. Russell Holmes leading the advocacy.
Massachusetts is one of four states without such a system. As is noted in the Auditor's report, a POST system "would ensure officers are meeting training requirements by establishing standards for police training curricula and programs, and would have the authority to decertify officers." The Caucus is thrilled to see Auditor Bump's support of POST and looks forward to collaborating on making it a reality in the Commonwealth.
Auditor Bump's full report can be viewed here.
On Thursday, January 9, 2020 the MBLLC joined House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz and House Transportation Committee Chair William Straus to discuss transportation in the Commonwealth. MBLLC members stressed the importance of regional and economic equity in any proposal considered in the coming months.
MBLLC log posts are curated by the Caucus Executive Director.