In solidarity with the AAPI community.
Before diving in to my legislative update, I wanted to express my solidarity with our community as we join in mourning and outrage at the recent spate of violence against Asian Americans in our country, especially Tuesday's shooting in Georgia. To that end, I joined with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus this week in issuing the following statement, which fully encapsulates the heartache and sadness I feel.
"The news and growing information on the shootings and murders in Atlanta on Tuesday night are devastating. Fueled by the heightened hateful rhetoric and misinformation around Covid-19 that increased anti-Asian sentiments, violence against people of Asian descent has been on the rise for over a year. We acknowledge that it did not begin, nor will it end, with this pandemic. It is critical that racism and xenophobia be repudiated and aggressively fought in all its forms.
As the Massachusetts House Progressive Caucus, we stand as allies with our colleagues in the House Asian Caucus and echo their call to the Atlanta Police to proceed with a full investigation to determine if these attacks were a hate crime. We seek to elevate the voices of those historically marginalized and to be active partners in denouncing and addressing discrimination, assault, racism, and hate against the AAPI community."
As we continue to center the needs of our Asian brothers and sisters as our efforts to stop the spread of hate move forward, it has also been a busy few weeks in the General Court. Below are some highlights of the legislation that we have passed in the House of Representatives.
Climate Change Legislation, S.9
Yesterday, the House passed S.9, An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy, a strong, progressive climate change bill that makes Massachusetts a leader among its peer states. As you may be aware, this is a bill that was vetoed by Governor Baker at the end of last session. Determined to pass meaningful climate legislation, the Legislature sent the same bill back to the Governor again in January, which Governor Baker then returned with modifications instead of outright vetoing. While there were some small positive tweaks offered by the Governor that the Legislature accepted, including improvements to the Environmental Justice language, we rejected the vast majority of his inexplicable attempts to weaken key provisions of the bill. Most importantly, we maintained the requirement to have a 50% reduction in emissions by the year 2030. I am proud of the efforts of my Lexington colleague Senator Mike Barrett, who, as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, played a key role in authoring the bill and shepherding it through the conference committee. This was a joint effort on the part of the full House and Senate, and I am grateful to the leadership and dedication of all of my fellow Representatives and Senate colleagues who worked tirelessly to get this bill back on Governor Baker's desk. I urge him to sign it quickly.
Vote by Mail Extension Legislation, H.73
Last week, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed H.73, An Act further providing for early voting by mail. This legislation extends mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021, which is essential to ensuring the health and safety of voters as the pandemic continues. Our vote-by-mail system is an accessible and secure method for Massachusetts residents to exercise their right to vote, and it ensures that all of our residents can perform their civic duty. I look forward to continuing to advocate for making vote by mail a permanent option for voters in the Commonwealth to cast their ballots.
Unemployment Insurance and PPP Loan Legislation, H.89
Last week, the House also passed H.89, An Act financing a program for improvements to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and providing relief to employers and workers in the Commonwealth. This bill would exclude the forgiveness of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans from Massachusetts personal income tax for taxable year 2020; create a tax credit for unemployment compensation received by taxpayers whose household income was 200% or less of the federal poverty level; provide COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave that may be taken by an employee who needs to miss work due to pandemic illness; and freeze employer unemployment tax rates, among many other actions. It is a terrific bill that will help both workers and small businesses alike. You can read more about the measure here and below. It passed the House overwhelmingly, and the Senate passed it yesterday with some changes, including pushing the tax-filing deadline to May 17th. The two chambers must now work quickly to come to an agreement and get this important, necessary legislation onto the Governor's desk.
April Office Hours
Join me for my next virtual office hours! On Tuesday, April 13th, I will be talking to constituents like you from 5:00 - 6:00 PM. You can sign up and submit questions ahead of time here.
Hearing from you helps me do my job better, and your input and thoughts are critical to informing my work on Beacon Hill.
While this year marks another Patriot's Day celebrated apart, there is reason to be hopeful because on that day, April 19th, all Massachusetts residents age 16 and up become eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine. I encourage you to preregister, and you can find more information about the remaining groups of Phase 2 below and at the state's COVID-19 Updates and Information page.
Zero Waste Caucus
For our second meeting of this session, the bipartisan, bicameral Zero Waste Caucus (ZWC) convened last week, and we were joined by over 60 legislators and staff to hear from several representatives from the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). Our presenters briefed us on the state of municipal trash and recycling in the Commonwealth, and it was an informative and helpful meeting in framing the policy issues that need to be addressed in this arena. We look forward to continuing these efforts! You can view the full roster of Zero Waste Caucus members here.
While there is much to be done at the producer level to reduce the waste that we interact with as consumers, we can all do our part now as well. How are you reducing waste in your own life? Let me know by responding to this email, or you can also reach me on Twitter @mciccolo or tag me on Facebook @RepCiccolo using the hashtag #ZeroWaste.
Honoring Betty Taymor
This Sunday, we have the honor of celebrating the 100th birthday of the trailblazing Betty Taymor, who was instrumental in founding the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy (CWPPP) at UMass Boston. I am a proud graduate of this program, which emphasizes electoral representation and intersectional public policy analyses relating to the economic, health, and social well-being of women in Massachusetts.
At an early stage, Betty's commitment to advancing women's leadership played an influential role in my career. In fact, I received the Women in Politics and Government graduate certificate from Boston College, which was founded by Betty (I still have the certificate hanging in my office!). As I have navigated many public roles throughout my career—from my time in municipal management to my current position as a state level elected official—I owe a great deal to the tireless work that Betty dedicated to ensuring that women have an elevated voice in politics and public policy.
If you would also like to join the celebration, you can register here! I hope to see you there.