Eldridge legislation focuses on increasing local aid, combating inequality, expanding access to health care, fighting climate change, stimulating economy, investing in transportation and improving government transparency
BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) announced today that he has filed legislation for the 2015-2016 legislative session. Senator Eldridge filed a total of 91 bills on topics ranging from health care and economic development to the environment, government transparency, election reform, housing, anti-poverty reforms, consumer protection, regionalization, inequality, fair taxation, and fighting climate change.
“I’m offering a range of bills that would create practical, progressive change to enhance the quality of life for all residents in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge. “This session it is time for the Legislature and the people of Massachusetts to make bold strides on increasing state support for our communities, including public education, combating rising inequality, expanding access to health care, fighting climate change, improving our transportation system, stimulating the economy, reducing the power that corporations have over our government and our elections, and protecting our public lands and increase transparency in government.”
Among the legislation Senator Eldridge has filed for this session includes:
SD903: An Act authorizing municipalities to authorize real estate tax rebates to qualified property owners
This bill would allow cities and towns to supplement the tax credit seniors qualify for under the Circuit Breaker Law by authorizing the municipality to offer additional tax rebates of $750.00 to seniors who qualify for Circuit Breaker relief.
SD1023: An Act to preserve eligibility for PACE program and certain waivered participants
The purpose of this bill is to enable individuals to remain eligible or qualify for the PACE and Home and Community Based (HCB) waiver even if his or her income is over the income limit. For said individuals, participation in either the PACE or HCB waiver program will require a premium to be paid if the individual’s income falls between the income limit and the average nursing home rate, as determined by the division.
SD1038: An Act regarding the countable assets of medical assistance recipients
This bill would allow individuals to save for retirement in Individual Retirement Accounts without being penalized when it comes time to calculate government benefits. Specifically, the bill provides that when one spouse is institutionalized (in a nursing home, etc.), any funds their spouse has in an IRA, Keogh plan or other pension funds will be considered non-countable assets so long as regular income distributions are made from the fund or the spouse is employed.
Environment and Energy
SD889: An Act protecting the natural resources of the Commonwealth
This bill clarifies and regularizes the process used to evaluate proposals for the Commonwealth and/or municipalities to take parcels out of conservation protected status (so-called Article 97 lands) in order for them to be used for other purposes, either public or private. It ensures mitigation of or “no net loss” of the release of protected land in the Commonwealth.
SD1022: An Act encouraging municipal recycling and composting
This bill would require that all cities and towns establish recycling programs for the purpose of recycling any type of solid waste and require that residents separate from their solid waste those recyclables and compostable waste for recycling in the manner set by the city or town.
SD1083: An Act promoting the use of total energy impact analysis
This bill would require the state to conduct and consider a life-cycle energy analysis for the construction of new state buildings or substantial renovations to existing state facilities.
SD1092: An Act further promoting energy efficiency and green jobs
This bill will create an Oil Heat Energy Efficiency Fund paid for with a 2.5 cent assessment on each gallon of heating oil sold for heating in the state, producing estimated annual revenue of nearly $20 million that will in turn lower consumers’ energy bills by more than $120 million annually. The bill will enable oil heat retailers to offer broad energy efficiency solutions to their customers in tandem with electric utility programs. It will greatly expand efficiency offerings for customers of municipal electric companies.
SD1616: An Act relative to net metering, community shared solar and energy storage
In order to (1) support the continued growth of the Massachusetts solar economy; (2) modernize the energy industry to enable more distributed energy resources; (3) maximize the potential of solar as a solution to climate change; and (4) ensure that everyone has fair and equitable access to solar power, this legislation raises the net metering cap for solar facilities to 1600 MWs and establishes a 3% cap for all other renewable generation technologies; expands the net metering cap exemption for solar facilities to 1 MW (AC); preserves virtual net metering in its current form thereby maintaining access to the benefits of solar for low income communities and those otherwise unable to install solar on their rooftops; exempts community shared solar systems from taxes for a period of 20 years; establishes a solar electricity target of 20% by 2025; and directs the Department of Public Utilities to create an energy storage program.
SD1804: An Act promoting zero net-energy buildings in the Commonwealth
This bill would improve buildings codes in Massachusetts to reduce energy consumption from residential and commercial buildings. This bill designates the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) to establish definitions of residential zero net-energy buildings and commercial zero net-energy buildings. It also directs the BBRS, in consultation with the Department of Energy Resources, to promulgate regulations establishing a residential zero net-energy building standard to take effect January 1st 2020 and a commercial zero net-energy building standard to take effect January 1st 2030.
Government Transparency and Efficiency
SD1088: An Act improving access to public records
This bill will improve access to public records by reducing and rationalizing the fees requestors must pay to obtain records, permitting requestors to obtain attorneys? fees if they have been denied access to public records without valid reasons, and putting systems in place to facilitate state agencies? management of public records requests.
SD1842: An Act enhancing access to electronic public records
This bill will make it routine for electronic public records to be provided to requestors in usable electronic form, and for information of significant interest to the public to be posted online.
SD1107: An Act establishing a legislative fiscal office
This bill creates a fiscal office that will provide fiscal analysis on bills and budget matters for the Legislature and legislative members.
SD1654: An Act promoting efficiency and transparency in economic development
Massachusetts invests heavily in economic development each year and yet we currently lack the data necessary to assess total spending or to judge the impact of our economic development investments. To increase the efficiency of the state’s economic development agencies, we need to be collecting the performance management data that will allow us to make informed decisions and ensure that our economic development dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible. This bill would promote efficiency, accountability and transparency by improving the tracking, reporting and evaluation of the tax breaks and hold businesses accountable by requiring them to give the money back if they fail to deliver on their job creation or retention commitments.
Criminal Justice Reform
SD1001: An Act promoting restorative justice practices
This bill creates an option for law enforcement and courts to refer juvenile and low-level adult criminal offenders to a community-based restorative justice program in lieu of or alongside other responses. The referral may be made pre-complaint, at the arrest, pre-arraignment, or sentencing phase and impacted parties and victims may also be part of the process. Restorative justice practices may include voluntary meetings among victim, offender, supporters, and community members that provide an opportunity to meet victim needs, hold an offender accountable, explore the impact of the crime upon community, and agree upon a constructive plan of repair by consensus. The bill also creates an advisory committee to study, track and make policy recommendations to aid in the implementation of restorative justice practices in the Commonwealth. An Office of Restorative Justice will also be established to provide support and assistance to community-based restorative justice programs in the Commonwealth.
SD1062: Resolve establishing a special commission on prisoner and correctional officer suicides
This bill establishes a special commission to study and recommend next steps for issues surrounding prisoner and correctional officer suicides. Massachusetts has among the highest numbers of prisoner and correctional officers suicides of any state in the country. Last year, suicides in Massachusetts state prisons occurred at a rate more than four times the national average. The Department of Correction has taken steps to address this problem, this bill creates a commission to involve more stakeholders in the discussion in order for the Commonwealth to permanently reduce instances of suicide in state correctional facilities.
SD1105: An Act relative to the expungement of records of persons falsely accused and juveniles
This bill allows expungement of criminal records for anyone who has been falsely accused. This change is prompted by two court decisions, Commonwealth v. Tina Boe 456 Mass 337 (2010) and Commonwealth v. Paul Moe (SJC 11124) 463 Mass 370 (2012). It also includes language that allows for the sealing of youthful offender records and the expungement of juvenile records.
SD996: An Act establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts
This bill would create a Medicare for all “single payer” health care system for Massachusetts, guaranteeing first rate health care coverage for every resident of the state, while saving money for state and local government, businesses, and residents. Massachusetts cannot afford to extend good health coverage to all residents under the current health insurance system, and rising health care costs are destroying state, municipal, business, and household budgets. No country or community in the world has been able to control health care costs or guarantee universal health care coverage without a system like Medicare for All.
SD943: An Act relative to emergency and disaster planning for health care providers
This bill would require that, in the situation of a state or regional emergency or other emergency situations, there would be a general wavier of liability against health care providers to ensure that providers are able to care for patients quickly without worry about liability concerns. With the recent natural storms, pandemic concerns and more, it is time that the state developed a process to ensure that providers are able to quickly and effectively care for patients regardless of the setting and without unnecessary concern of legal or administrative sanctions.
Investing in Our Communities
SD1057 Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution Proposal for a legislative amendment to the constitution creating a progressive income tax
This constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to set graduated rates for the income tax so that the tax burden would fall more fairly on Massachusetts families.
You can view a full list of legislation Senator Eldridge sponsored legislation here by clicking ‘Bills and Laws’ under the sponsored and cosponsored legislation tab.