The most recent Massachusetts legislative session has come to an end and Burlington’s representative in the House is highlighting some of the bills past and other initiatives completed.
According to a release from his office, Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) joined his legislative colleagues at the conclusion of the formal session, passing legislation to address climate change, women’s reproductive rights, permanently mail-in voting and early voting, barriers to mental health care, and investments in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure.
“I am extremely proud of what my colleagues and I accomplished this session, but I also recognize that we can’t slow down, there’s still much to accomplish next session,” said Rep. Gordon.
The group of comprehensive bills passed by the Legislature prior to the end of the legislative session include:
According to Rep. Gordon, the FY23 budget upholds fiscal responsibility and makes targeted investments to strengthen the state’s economy, protect the most vulnerable residents, and support the everyday needs of communities and families. This budget includes a significant increase to Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) for municipalities and historic investments in early education and care, health care, K-12 education, housing, and workforce development. Representative Gordon secured major funding for Burlington and local organizations, including:
- $9,149,844 in Chapter 70 education funding for the town of Burlington;
- $3,033,638 in Unrestricted General Government Aid for the town of Burlington;
- $75,000 for the town of Burlington’s Council on Aging to support programming for seniors;
- $150,000 to support the critical care operations of Boston MedFlight at Hanscom Air Force Base; and
- $100,000 for Communities for Restorative Justice, Inc.
Clean Energy and Offshore Wind
According to the release, this legislation, which awaits the Governor’s approval, will bolster green transportation, green buildings, and clean power production. The bill adds on to Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which was passed earlier this legislative session and overhauled the state’s climate laws by putting Massachusetts on a path to reach net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The bill awaits Governor Baker’s signature.
Gordon said abortion remains legal in Massachusetts due to the Legislature’s efforts to codify and expand access to reproductive rights in 2020. However, the Legislature took additional steps to further protect women’s reproductive rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. This bill provides legal protections to abortion providers, out-of-state patients, and insurers; expands access to contraceptives; and helps ensure that women who face grave circumstances after 24 weeks of pregnancy are not forced to leave Massachusetts to access reproductive health care.
Gun Safety Legislation
According to the release, following the Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen that struck down laws requiring applicants to show “proper cause” for a concealed carry permit, the Legislature passed legislation to ensure compliance while strengthening the state’s gun laws by clarifying that individuals with restraining orders for harassment and other public safety dangers are ineligible for gun licenses.
The Legislature also sent Governor Baker legislation that would authorize sports betting. The legislation permits the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to grant in-person licenses at gaming establishments, as well as mobile licenses through mobile applications. The legislation allows wagering on college sports, except for Massachusetts schools, unless they are participating in a tournament. Individuals must be 21 years old or older to bet. This legislation is estimated to bring $60 million in annual tax revenue for Massachusetts.
Other notable bills that advanced prior to the end of formal session include:
- Signed by the Governor – The VOTES Act, which codifies mail-in voting and early voting
- Signed by the Governor – The Crown Act, which bans discrimination based on hairstyles
- Signed by the Governor – The Speed Act, which will support military families who relocate to the Commonwealth with expedited licensure and school enrollment, creating education awareness programs, and establishing the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity
- Awaiting Signature – Transportation and Infrastructure Bond Bill, which authorizes $11.3 billion for transportation and infrastructure projects, including $400 million for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to address ongoing safety concerns.
- Awaiting Signature – Cannabis Equity legislation, which is designed to encourage participation in the cannabis industry from communities disproportionally harmed by marijuana criminalization by creating a Social Equity Trust Fund and prioritizes social equity in host community agreements.
The Legislature will still conduct business throughout the remainder of this year; however, most major pieces of legislation will need to be reconsidered at the beginning of the new legislative session in January.