Bills on economic development and job creation, healthcare, and clean energy are sent to Governor’s desk
BOSTON – Representative Jeffrey Sánchez worked with his colleagues in the House of Representatives in a push to pass several pieces of comprehensive legislation before the 2015-2016 legislative session ended at midnight on July 31, 2016.
“It’s always a race to the finish line,” said Sánchez. “But with the leadership of Speaker DeLeo, we were able to pass key legislation that is going to help make our neighborhoods stronger and healthier.” The bills come after months of debate and discussion.
The House unanimously passed Sánchez’s bill, An Act Increasing Access to Immunizations. The legislation makes life-saving vaccines more accessible and affordable for people in low-income communities. It accomplishes this by allowing certified medical assistants employed in a primacy care setting to administer immunizations under the direct supervision of a primary care provider. The House also passed legislation requiring health insurance coverage for medical or drug treatments to correct or repair disturbances of body composition caused by HIV-associated lipodystrophy. This is crucial to ensuring the dignity and health of those affected by AIDS.
Sánchez supported economic development legislation funding programs that have been integral to the development of affordable housing in Mission Hill and Jackson Square, as well as proven job training programs in Boston Public Schools. It includes $400,000 of funding for crosswalk and accessibility improvements along Centre Street in Jamaica Plain at Rambler Road, Westchester Road, and Whitcomb Avenue. This DCR-operated parkway has been a priority for the Representative, who has fought for safety and traffic improvements along Centre Street and the Arborway since winning office in 2003. It also creates a new tax incentive to promote saving for college.
The legislation funds affordable housing by authorizing $500 million for the MassWorks Infrastrucrue Program and $45 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to encourage the development of vacant, blighted, or abandoned parcels of land by providing loans and grants for environmental site assessment and cleanup.
“These funds have and continue to be instrumental in various development projects throughout the district in Jackson Square in Jamaica Plain and Parcel 25 in Mission Hill. I am happy that the resources will be there when Jackson Commons and Parcel 25 move forward.”
A clear priority from the start of session, a clean energy bill was passed in order to authorize the largest procurement of renewable energy in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Once contracted, one-third of Massachusetts’ energy will come from clean, sustainable offshore wind and hydropower sources. It will create the largest off-shore wind farm in the country and also requires that gas leaks be fixed during road repair.
Representative Sánchez also voted in favor of a bill creating regulations for ride-sharing companies like Lyft, Fasten, and Uber. Named the most innovative state in America by Bloomberg in January, Massachusetts continues this reputation by striking a careful balance of protecting public safety without stifling innovation. The final legislation, now sitting before the Governor, creates a new division to write regulations, mandates two-tier background checks, and requires cars to display a decal noting them as a ride for hire. The bill does not ban pickups at Logan Airport or the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
The House also voted to override budget vetoes from the Governor. Full funding was reinstanted for priority items like Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, which helps those struggling with addiction, and housing assistance programs like Massachusetts Rental Vouchers, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, and Public Housing. The Massachusetts Cultural Council was restored to its full funding of $14.3 million to support arts and culture programs across Boston and the Commonwealth.
This past weekend marks the end of a successful legislative session, which saw groundbreaking legislation addressing pay equity and the opioid crisis pass unanimously into law. Informal sessions will continue through the end of the year, where Representative Sánchez will continue to fight for legislation that creates healthy, stable neighborhoods.