PRESS RELEASES

NAJL STANDS STRONG AGAINST USE OF SECRET POLICE

The National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL) expresses outrage and significant opposition to the use of secret police on U.S. soil 

August 17, 2020

The National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL) expresses our outrage and significant opposition to the use of secret police on U.S. soil, being deployed by the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf and President Donald Trump. 
 
The use of unidentified federal agents driving unmarked vans and detaining protestors without basis to arrest them is un-American. The tactics, which have seen uniformed officers spray tear gas on peaceful protestors, shoot journalists and veterans with rubber pellets and pull bystanders into rented minivans and taken into custody, have provoked harsh criticism across the political spectrum, from members of Congress and civil libertarians, local leaders and former Republican and Democratic Administration officials alike. 

 

“As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, I’m deeply familiar with the history and the very real terror the federal government invokes when it releases secret police on civilians. While we must all speak out any time we witness acts of hate and fear, as elected officials, we cannot allow hate to be formally marshalled against our communities through the very systems of government that are meant to protect us all,” said NAJL board member Senator Becca Rausch (D – Needham). 
 
“The use of secret police is all too reminiscent for the Jewish community of the SS, the private army of the Nazi Regime,” explained Utah Rep. Patrice Arent and co-president of NAJL.  

  

SS chief Heinrich Himmler turned the regular police forces into an instrument of terror and forged the Secret State Police known as the Gestapo. The Gestapo's main mission was to identify and arrest political opponents of the Nazi regime. The Gestapo arrested and killed Socialists, Communists, trade union leaders and other political opponents without trial. By mid-1933, democracy was effectively eliminated in Germany.  

  

In the words of Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor who rejected Nazism when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion,  
 
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a socialist. 

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a trade unionist. 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew. 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. 

 
As elected state leaders across the country, we are speaking out for all those being targeted, arrested and injured by the unwelcomed and unidentified secret police in Portland, Chicago and wherever else they may be deployed. 

  

“Sending Department of Homeland Security agents into cities where they use brutal tactics against protestors, journalists, veterans and onlookers is not welcome in our cities, states or country and is antithetical to our Constitutional democracy,” said Oregon Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and NAJL board member. 

  

We call on President Trump and acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to immediately halt the use of secret police. Furthermore, we support efforts to challenge these activities via federal courts and hope the courts will forcefully forbid all tactics that violate our U.S. Constitutional rights. 

  

Signed by the Following NAJL National Board Members: 

  

Rep. Patrice Arent,  (UT) Co-President 

Assemblyman David Weprin,  (NY), Co-President 

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel,  (NV) Secretary 

Rep. Dafna Michaelson Genet (CO), Treasurer 

Rep. Tana Senn (WA) 

Senator Ben Allen (CA) 

Senator Becca Rausch (MA) 

Assemblyman Charles Lavine (NY), State Chapter President 

Rep. Dan Frankel (PA) 

Rep. Rick Stark (FL), State Chapter Chair 

Senator Shelly Hettleman (MD) 

Senator Sandy Pappas (MN) 

Delegate Jon Cardin (MD) 

Senator Sara Feigenholtz (IL) 

Assemblywoman Lisa Subeck (WI) 

Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (OR) 

Senator Linda Greenstein (NJ) 

Rep. Emily Slosberg (FL) 

Rep. Mike Gottlieb (FL) 

SENATE ADVANCES MATERNAL HEALTH PACKAGE

Legislation provides licensure for certified professional midwives; establishes commissions to address racial inequities in maternal mortality and morbidity, and to study barriers to substance use treatment

July 31, 2020

BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, July 30, 2020, unanimously passed three bipartisan bills to increase birth options and safety for all pregnant and perinatal people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One bill increases options for safe, professional birthing care in the Commonwealth by licensing midwifery, one establishes a commission to address racial inequities in maternal healthcare in Massachusetts, and a third bill establishes a commission to study barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period.  

 

An Act relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety creates licensure for certified professional midwives who provide home birth services, which are less expensive than hospital-based birth and associated with healthy birth outcomes, including lower rates of Caesarean section and fewer postpartum complications. This credentialing process will standardize midwifery training and qualifications, provide consumers with transparent information when seeking a home birth, and facilitate the hospital transfer process in the event of labor compilations. In addition to making home birth midwifery care more accessible for birthing people, the bill also reduces potential barriers to entry into the profession. Two members of the licensing board must come from populations historically underrepresented in the profession, and the legislation includes licensing fee waivers for aspiring low-income midwives. 

 

The demand for home birth midwifery care has increased sharply during the coronavirus crisis. The licensure provided by this legislation secures healthcare worker status for professional midwives, yielding access to personal protective equipment and other supports necessary for Massachusetts midwives to safely deliver pre- and post-natal care. 

 

Senator Rausch said, “The midwives bill increases health care access, improves health outcomes, and reduces health costs, all at once. I’m proud to have championed this critical reproductive justice legislation in the Senate and grateful that Massachusetts is now a significant step closer to joining the 36 other states in the nation that provide licensure for certified professional midwives. The import of this bill was undeniable before the pandemic hit, and COVID-19 laid bare its urgency, as increasing numbers of birthing people throughout the Commonwealth seek home birth midwifery care to avoid exposure to the virus and to keep from taxing the hospital-based healthcare system unnecessarily. Thank you to Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, my House co-filer Representative Kay Khan, and the many advocates who collaborated with me to bring this bill to the Senate floor for its passage.” 

 

On this bill, Ann Whitman, a Certified Professional Midwife who practices in Massachusetts said, "I've been a Certified Professional Midwife in Massachusetts for almost thirty years, and we've always worked toward licensure, but practicing through this pandemic has exposed the need for safe and accessible out-of-hospital birth like never before. I've been receiving at least ten times the amount of inquiries from families hoping that a home birth is an option, but Massachusetts is so far behind the majority of other states, completely lacking a framework for equitable access to home birth, or minimum standards and protocols for practice. Massachusetts families need this bill passed." 

 

“At a time when inequities in our health care system are being highlighted by a global pandemic, I am proud to support these critical bills to support maternal health,” stated Senate Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This package is about turning the tide on the tragic imbalance in treatment and outcomes that exists in maternal health, particularly in our Black and brown communities, and ensuring all pregnant people and new mothers have access to the care they need. The Senate has remained laser-focused this session on breaking down barriers, enhancing transparency and lowering the cost of health care and will continue to push for reforms to make our health care system better. I’d like to express my gratitude to Senators Joan Lovely and Becca Rausch for their efforts. This is an example of what we can and should accomplish by having women in positions to make change.” 

An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health establishes a commission to address the continuing racial inequities in the Commonwealth’s maternal health outcomes, specifically in cases of maternal mortality and morbidity. Among the developed nations of the world, only the U.S. continues to allow people giving birth to die in increasing numbers, and the outcomes are staggeringly worse for people of color, who experienced a 238% increase in the risk of maternal death between 1978 and 2015. 

 

The commission will bring together diverse perspectives on maternal health and racial health disparities and will include public health experts, physicians, midwives, a doula, and individuals with first-hand experience with health disparities, including a survivor of maternal morbidity. The bill requires that a majority of commission members represent Massachusetts communities most impacted by maternal health inequity, which statistically have been Black and brown communities. The commission must submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any draft legislation necessary to achieve the recommendations of the commission, within one year of its creation. 

 

“People giving birth now are more likely to suffer injury, illness, or death than our mothers and grandmothers who delivered in the previous century, and Black and brown birthing people are more than twice as likely to be forced to endure those heartbreaking harms,” said Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham), the lead sponsor of the maternal health disparities and midwifery bills. “We cannot allow that to stand, nor can we tackle a problem without understanding the full extent of its impact. The maternal health disparities commission we establish today will serve as that meaningful first step in crafting policy solutions to the tangible racial disparities in maternal health outcomes in Massachusetts. I am grateful to Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Rules Committee Chair Joan Lovely, my House co-filers Representatives Liz Miranda and Kay Khan, and the many advocates whose collaboration made this commission possible.” 

 

In response to this bill, Dr. Amutah-Onkagha, an Associate Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and the organizer of the Annual Black Maternal Health Conference said, “Massachusetts is a national leader in healthcare for many reasons and the passage of the Senate bill to develop a maternal health commission that addresses disparities in maternal health outcomes for Black women is no different. As a Black woman, maternal health advocate and public health professor, I am encouraged by the work that the commission will accomplish to improve the health of women across the Commonwealth by reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. I am particularly excited that the voices, expertise and strength of Black women will lead and shape the timely and urgent work that the commission will achieve.” 

 

 

An Act relative to improving access to treatment for individuals with perinatal substance use disorder creates a special commission to study the barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period. This commission will bring together the Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Children and Families (DCF), MassHealth, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, and private partners with expertise in maternal mental health and substance use treatment to ensure pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorder have meaningful access to the care they need.  

 

This commission will evaluate how different factors like insurance coverage, access to family-based treatment, screening for perinatal substance use disorder, and the integration of perinatal care and substance use treatment affect the availability of care. The commission will also recommendations to provide greater access to treatment for this vulnerable population. 

 

“New mothers are one of the most at-risk populations for opioid overdose in the Commonwealth. Over the last decade, the proportion of pregnancy-associated deaths related to substance use has increased sharply. More than a third of pregnancy-related deaths in Massachusetts are fatal opioid overdoses,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), the lead sponsor of the perinatal substance abuse bill and Chair of the Senate Committee on Rules, which ushered through two of the bills. “This special commission will identify and recommend ways to address the barriers to care for women during the perinatal period, when many already struggle with isolation, depression, and anxiety. This legislation represents a key step toward providing more, better treatment options to give new mothers confidence to seek and receive care while parenting their children.” 

 

An Act relative to improving access to treatment for individuals with perinatal substance use disorder, An Act relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety and An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health now move to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

MA STATE SENATE PASSES, REFORM, SHIFT + BUILD ACT

Bill enacts reforms to raise police accountability standards, shift resources to communities and build equity, justice and fairness, with key transparency amendments from Senator Rausch

July 15, 2020

BOSTON  — The Massachusetts State Senate on Tuesday passed An Act to Reform Police Standards and Shift Resources to Build a More Equitable, Fair and Just Commonwealth that Values Black Lives and Communities of Color (S.2800). Known as the Reform, Shift + Build Act, the comprehensive bill is designed to increase police accountability, shift the role of law enforcement away from surveillance and punishment, and begin to dismantle systemic racism.  

 

“Over the course of the last several weeks, a significant majority of my constituents have clearly stated that racial justice and police reform are deeply important to them,” said Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham). “I've seen thousands of people at physically distant Black Lives Matter demonstrations, had multiple conversations during virtual office hours, and received hundreds of emails supporting the content of the bill. The Reform, Shift + Build Act reflects what so many Bay Staters want in this moment of change: increased education around racism and implicit bias for our law enforcement, reducing violence in policing, and, whenever possible, shifting the focus toward assistance or healing rather than punishment.”  

 

Senator Rausch stated that, “Through the amendment process, I was able to increase transparency and accountable data collection in the bill, by ensuring the information in the Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee (POSAC) database will become part of the public record and increasing the frequency that municipal law enforcement departments must analyze and report their stop and search data. We know that in order to be effective and just, data collection and reporting must be thorough and frequent. I’m glad we were able to achieve that in this legislation. I’m also proud to have introduced a successful amendment requiring law enforcement to collaborate in good faith with peaceful protest organizers, in order to develop strategies for effective communication and nonviolent de-escalation.” 

 

The Reform, Shift + Build Act makes a number of changes to improve policing in the Commonwealth: 

 

It bans chokeholds and other deadly uses of force except in cases of imminent harm. The bill also requires the use of de-escalation tactics when feasible, creates a duty to intervene for officers who witness abuse of force, and expands and strengthens police training in de-escalation, racism and intervention tactics. 
 

In response to national and state-level calls for change, the bill clarifies and restores to its original design the doctrine of qualified immunity. Under the legislation, the qualified immunity defense will remain, as long as a public official, including law enforcement, is acting in accordance with the law. The bill also makes clear that nothing in this bill impacts or limits existing indemnification protections for public officials. 
 

The Reform, Shift + Build Act creates a Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee (POSAC)—an independent state entity composed of law enforcement professionals, community members, and racial justice advocates—to standardize the certification, training, and decertification of police officers. The POSAC includes 6 law enforcement members, both management and rank-and-file officers, 7 non-law enforcement members and 1 retired judge. All non-law enforcement members will have experience with or expertise in law enforcement practice and training, criminal law, civil rights law, the criminal justice system, or social science fields related to race or bias. 
 

The POSAC will receive all misconduct complaints, investigate complaints involving serious misconduct, and maintain a disclosure database. It will also prohibit nondisclosure agreements in police misconduct settlements and establish a commission to recommend a correctional officer certification, training, and decertification framework. 

 

To shift the balance of law enforcement techniques away from force and punishment, the bill seeks to demilitarize the police force by requiring transparency and civilian authorization for military equipment acquisitions. It also seeks to expand community-based, non-police solutions to crisis response and jail diversion by developing new evidence-based intervention models. The bill imposes a moratorium on the use of facial surveillance technology by government entities while a commission studies its use and creates a task force to study the use of body and dashboard cameras by law enforcement agencies. 

 

The bill seeks to begin dismantling systemic racism by explicitly banning racial profiling, requiring racial data collection for all police stops and requiring reporting and analysis. A key component of the bill addresses the school-to-prison pipeline by making school resource officers optional at the discretion of the superintendent and preventing school districts from sharing students’ personal information with police, except for investigation of a crime or to stop imminent harm. The bill also expands access to record expungement for young people by allowing individuals with more than one charge on their juvenile record to qualify for expungement. 

 

The bill also establishes the Strong Communities and Justice Reinvestment Workforce Development Fund to shift funding from policing and corrections towards community investment. Controlled by community members and community development professionals, the fund will make competitive grants to drive economic opportunities in communities most impacted by excessive policing and mass incarceration. 

 

“This Reform, Shift + Build Act meets the urgency of this moment,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “There is no doubt that we are in a difficult moment, both nationally and in our Commonwealth, but I’m proud of the Senate for listening to calls for racial justice and beginning the difficult work of reducing institutionalized violence, shifting our focus and resources to communities that have historically been negatively impacted by aggressive policing, and introducing many creative ideas to build greater equity and fairness in our Commonwealth. I’d like to particularly thank the members of the Senate Working Group on Racial Justice, especially the co-chairs Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Will Brownsberger, for working thoughtfully and thoroughly so that we could meaningfully say that the work of racial justice has begun. I promise the Senate will continue.” 

 

“This bill is a vital step towards a new vision of public safety: one that’s built on accountability, de-escalation, and care,” stated Senator Sonia Chang -Díaz (D-Boston), co-chair of Senate Working Group on Racial Justice. “It begins the long, necessary work of shifting power and resources to Black communities and communities of color who have, for too long, faced criminalization and punishment instead of investment. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Racial Justice Working Group, Senate President Spilka, and the Ways & Means Chairman, Senator Rodrigues, for their dedication in bringing this bill forward. I’m especially thankful to the organizers, advocates, and protestors who have been fighting these battles for years and have made it impossible for us to look away now. We still have a long road ahead, but this marks a tremendous leap forward.” 

 

The Senate adopted a number of amendments to strengthen the bill. One establishes a Latinx Commission, based on the existing Asian-American Commission and the African American Commission created in the current bill, to bring more underrepresented voices to the table and ensure equity in policymaking. Another prohibits decertified law enforcement officers from becoming corrections officers, while a further amendment eliminates statutory language offensive to the LGBTQ+ community.  

 

One notable amendment creates a Commission on Structural Racism, which seeks to map out the systems impacting the Department of Corrections (DOC) mission using a structural racism lens. This commission will propose programming and policy shifts and identifying legislative or agency barriers to promoting the optimal operation of the DOC. It also creates a roadmap for the legislature to establish a permanent publicly funded entity to continue this work. 

 

The Reform, Shift + Build Act now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.  

SENATE PASSES BILL TO PRESERVE MUNICIPAL GOVERNANCE DURING ONGOING COVID-19 CRISIS

June 5, 2020

BOSTON - The Massachusetts State Senate and Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday, June 4, 2020, to provide governance and fiscal flexibility for many municipalities grappling with public health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

“I am very proud that the Legislature continues to deliver results for our partners in local

government in this time of crisis,” stated Senator Becca Rausch, Co-chair of Joint Committee

on Municipalities and Regional Government (D-Needham). “This bill provides a number of

vital components, such as virtual representative town meeting, quorum reduction for open town

meeting, and additional budget flexibility. The bill also lifts up Bay Staters directly by extending

the previously passed no-shutoffs provision to district governments and allowing expanded mailin

voting options for more local elections. I remain deeply committed to collaborating with

colleagues in order to address the needs of our residents and our municipalities as we manage

through this pandemic.”

“COVID-19 has disrupted so many aspects of our life, and I’m proud of this latest bipartisan effort to give our towns the flexibility they need to continue serving their residents without delay,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I want to thank my legislative colleagues for their hard work and collaboration on this latest effort to address the ongoing public health pandemic. I look forward to it being swiftly signed into law.”  

 

“In the face of unprecedented challenges it is vital that we empower local communities to effectively govern during this time, and this bill builds on the legislature’s commitment to do just that,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “I applaud my colleagues in the House and Senate for working collaboratively to meet the urgent needs of the Commonwealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

 

"We appreciate our ongoing collaboration with municipal leaders to keep local government working safely during the time of COVID," said President Pro Tempore Senator 

 William Brownsberger (D-Belmont).  

 

“I am very proud that the Legislature continues to deliver results for our partners in local government in this time of crisis,” stated Senator Becca Rausch, Co-chair of Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government (D-Needham). “This bill provides a number of vital components, such as virtual representative town meeting, quorum reduction for open town meeting, and additional budget flexibility. The bill also lifts up Bay Staters directly by extending the previously passed no-shutoffs provision to district governments and allowing expanded mail-in voting options for more local elections. I remain deeply committed to collaborating with colleagues in order to address the needs of our residents and our municipalities as we manage through this pandemic.” 

 

"Among the most important priorities that the legislature can address during this state of emergency is preparing the way for cities and towns to conduct the needed and necessary business of budgeting and governing for each community," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). "This multi-faceted bill, a product of collaboration and bipartisanship, gives the tools and flexibility that are needed across the Commonwealth now." 

 

Building off of other legislation that gave municipalities operating flexibility during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the bill further protects public health and preserves the town meeting structure from continued disruptions caused by the state of emergency.  

 

The bill includes the following provisions: 

 

  • Permits representative town meeting to take place virtually; 

  • Permits quorum reduction for open town meeting to no less than 10% and extends the quorum reduction to representative town meeting; 

  • Allows town meeting to be held outside the geographic limits of the town; and 

  • Permits a municipal election scheduled through June 31 to be extended to August 1 at the latest.  

By providing our municipalities with this much-needed flexibility, the bill preserves public access to the proceedings of town governance and protects the public from the continued health risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 

The bill also provides our city governments with fiscal relief by allowing mayors to delay their normal budget submission deadline for FY 2021 in light of the state of emergency. 

 

Finally, among other provisions, the bill strengthens the prohibition on terminating essential services for residents during the COVID-19 emergency and provides municipalities and regional school districts flexibility in paying school bus and other vendor contracts.   

 

The compromise bill now heads to the Governor’s desk. 

SENATOR RAUSCH ANNOUNCES VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS, REMOTE OPERATIONS AS BEST PRACTICES AMID COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Senator Rausch and her staff will remain accessible to constituents via phone and email,  
will provide weekly COVID-19 updates via newsletter 

March 16, 2020

Boston, MA – Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) has temporarily closed her State House office and will continue to serve constituents of the Bristol, Norfolk, and Middlesex District remotely to promote the safety and public health of the communities she represents. This decision came in response to public health experts’ encouragement of social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Senator Rausch will shift her monthly office hours to virtual office hours held remotely every two weeks on Friday mornings. The senator’s first virtual office hours will take place Friday, March 27th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (link here). Conversations with the Senator and her staff will take place over Google Hangouts, Skype, and phone calls. Residents from any part of the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District are welcome to share their questions and opinions on state issues with Senator Rausch and her staff. Constituents may reserve 15-minute appointments in advance at beccarauschma.com/office-hours.  

“Even amidst a public health emergency, it is essential that legislators remain in constant communication with the communities they represent,” said Senator Rausch. “Physical social distancing is a critical tool to prevent the spread of disease, and I am committed to virtually meeting with my constituents while I continue working with my Senate colleagues to curb the COVID-19 outbreak in our Commonwealth.” 

Senator Rausch will host biweekly office hours remotely every other week until further notice. Upcoming dates are as follows:  

  • Friday, April 10th, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm 

  • Friday, April 24th, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm 

To subscribe to Senator Rausch’s weekly COVID-19 updates, please visit https://www.beccarauschma.com/covid19. Constituents can still contact the Senator and her team at 617-722-1555 or email becca.rausch@masenate.gov to share their opinion on state issues, seek assistance, or schedule a call with the Senator or her staff. Residents can also get live updates from the Senator via Twitter (@BeccaRauschMA) and Facebook (@BeccaRauschMA). 

Please note: Senator Rausch’s previously scheduled in-person office hours for Millis on Friday, March 27th and Wayland on April 13 will no longer take place. 

SENATOR RAUSCH, REPRESENTATIVE MADARO FILE UNIVERSAL VOTE BY MAIL LEGISLATION FOR 2020 STATEWIDE ELECTIONS

March 11, 2020

Boston, MA -- Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Adrian Madaro (D-Boston) filed SD. 2912/HD. 5026, An Act establishing vote by mail in 2020, a bill to implement comprehensive voting by mail for all statewide elections in 2020. The recent Wisconsin election and experiences in other states make clear thatMassachusetts must act now to safeguard the right to vote during the unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis.

 

The 2020 Vote by Mail Act would expand existing early voting procedures in Massachusetts by mailing ballots to registered voters for both the September 1 primary election and the November 3 general election. For the general, every registered voter would receive a ballot. For the primary, every voter registered with a political party would automatically receive their party’s primary ballot; unenrolled voters may request a primary ballot for any political party. The legislation also maintains in-person voting options and requires that the state provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for poll workers if the Governor’s COVID-19 state of emergency is in effect, or as the circumstances of the pandemic may necessitate. The vote by mail provisions of the bill will sunset at the close of 2020 and will not apply to future elections outside of this year.

 

While the automatic vote by mail provisions only apply to the statewide elections in 2020, some additional provisions will be permanent, including election day as a statewide holiday, funding sources, technological enhancements to the voting process, and allowing clerks and municipal elections departments to process early ballots before election day.

 

Senator Rausch said, “Free, open, and accessible elections are a central pillar of our democracy. We’re facing a global pandemic that makes traditional in-person voting seriously concerning if not downright dangerous, so we must proactively pursue alternative voting methods. We do this by expanding a process we already know to be viable in our Commonwealth. Under the 2020 Vote by Mail Act, every registered Massachusetts voter will receive a ballot that they can cast safely and securely, without jeopardizing their health or anyone else’s, knowing that their ballot will be counted. COVID-19 must not strip us of our right and ability to vote; we must protect our elections, especially in times of crisis. We cannot afford to wait and see how the rest of this pandemic period unfolds.”

 

“As we look toward an uncertain future in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency, we must be prepared to safeguard the vital civic institution of our elections against all possibility of disruption," said Rep. Madaro. "At the beginning of the legislative session last year, I filed the only bill that would guarantee all Massachusetts voters the right to request their ballots by mail. Now, I am proud to co-file the 2020 Vote by Mail Act to protect our elections in the midst of this crisis. By providing each Massachusetts voter with an early voting mail ballot, we know that we are protecting their right to vote no matter what September or November brings. Mail voting already works in Massachusetts; we process thousands of mail-in absentee ballots every election with no issue. No matter what path this pandemic takes, the 2020 Vote by Mail Act will ensure Massachusetts residents are prepared and able to vote this fall.”

 

The bill provides that the costs of expanded early voting by mail will be handled by the state, in substantial part by using federal funds already on hand, appropriated to the state under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The legislature would appropriate additional funds as needed to cover implementation costs after HAVA funds have been exhausted. The sponsors look to the Congressional delegation to protect the full functionality of the United States Postal Service, critical to a vote by mail system.

HOUSE AND SENATE LAWMAKERS CALL ON GOVERNOR TO CLOSE ALL EARLY EDUCATION CENTERS, PRIMARY, AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS

March 11, 2020

Boston, MA -- Today a group of 16 bicameral, bipartisan lawmakers from across the Commonwealth issued the below letter to Governor Baker, calling on him to issue a directive to close all early education centers and K-12 schools. The letter is attached (press the read more button).

SEN. RAUSCH, REP. NGUYEN, COALITION PUSH TO PROTECT CIVIL RIGHTS REGARDING BODY SIZE

Eating disorder experts, public health researchers, other advocates ask legislators to pass bill prohibiting body size discrimination

March 11, 2020

BOSTON – Today Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Tram Nguyen (D-Andover) convened a group of advocates, eating disorder experts, and public health researchers at the State House to educate and lobby lawmakers in favor of the legislators’ bill to prohibit body size discrimination (S.1012/H.3413).

Weight stigma and discrimination persist in many settings, including healthcare, housing, education, and the workplace. Research shows that children subjected to body shaming face an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. Affecting 30 million Americans at some point in their lives, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses. Unfortunately, unlike other forms of social bias, stigma surrounding body size such as weight stigma has not improved over time. According to a January 2019 study of Americans, implicit bias based on body size intensified from 2007 to 2016.

The Massachusetts body size discrimination bill has garnered in-state, national, and international support from a wide-ranging coalition of public health, human services, higher education, private sector, and advocacy groups. The advocates, led by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), plan to use the bill as model legislation to be adapted in other states across the U.S. In addition, a team of researchers from Harvard Catalyst in Cambridge and the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom are conducting a study on this bill’s legislative process to inform future endeavors to pass similar legislation combating body size stigma. The Joint Committee on the Judiciary issued a favorable report on the bill in January and sent the bill back to the Senate for further action. The only other state with similar anti-discrimination legislation for height and weight is Michigan, which passed the law in 1976.

“Time and again, Bay Staters have proven our dedication to valuing each other based on the content of our characters and the merits of our abilities, not by our physical presentations. It’s time for the law of the Commonwealth to state, clearly, that body size discrimination is unacceptable. Whatever the complex set of reasons may be for increasing waistlines nationwide, body shaming is not the answer. When we pass this legislation, we will convey a message of acceptance, value, and respect to all people in all body types, whatever the size or shape. I have been working on the intersection of fatness and the law for years, and I am incredibly proud to push this legislation forward.”

Joslyn Smith, NEDA’s Director of Public Policy & Community Relations, said, “We were proud to have a robust group of over 40 people from across the Commonwealth, including those with lived experience of body size discrimination, lobby 24 lawmakers in productive meetings in both branches of the legislature. The issue of weight discrimination, a known risk factor for eating disorders, is of paramount importance to NEDA, and we applaud Massachusetts for its national leadership on addressing body size discrimination legislatively.”

Rep. Nguyen said, “This bill would address an injustice in our society against people based on body size discrimination. Women are particularly vulnerable to this type of discrimination in the hiring process and the workplace. As a society, we need to change how we treat people based on their appearance, which can negatively impact their mental and physical wellbeing. Removing this barrier to equal participation in the workforce will not only benefit these deserving individuals, but their contributions will also boost our economy. And the example we set in protecting civil rights will bring about a generational change in the way children treat one another.”

Senator Rausch, Representative Nguyen and the coalition of advocates will continue working to advance this critical equity legislation before the session ends in July.

SENATOR RAUSCH’S SUITE OF FAMILY-FOCUSED BILLS MOVES FORWARD IN THE MA SENATE
The bills cover a range of issues, from racial disparities in maternal health to making diaper changing stations accessible to all, regardless of gender or ability

February 3, 2020

BOSTON – Senator Rausch’s (D-Needham) innovative family-focused agenda reached a new legislative milestone this month, as many of her bills supporting Massachusetts families were favorably reported out of committee. After the February 5 reporting deadline for most joint legislative committees, Senator Rausch’s bills regarding racial disparities in maternal health, diaper changing station accessibility for all genders, and streamlining the adoption process for same-sex families moved out of committee. Senator Rausch’s legislation to increase access to home birth by licensing certified professional midwives previously secured a favorable report in December.

 

“The residents of our district deeply care about lifting up all kinds of families,” Senator Rausch said. “These bills support and promote greater equity for all parents and caregivers, regardless of race, economic status, physical ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I am grateful to have earned my colleagues’ endorsement of these bills through the committee process and pledge to keep working until these bills become law.”

 

S.1334, An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health, would establish a commission to address the continuing inequities in the Commonwealth’s maternal health outcomes, specifically in cases of maternal mortality and morbidity. The maternal mortality rate for mothers in Massachusetts increased 33% between 2012 and 2014 alone. Black and Native American women experience mortality rates three times and two and one-half times greater, respectively, than white women in this country. By passing this necessary legislation, the Commonwealth will raise awareness of the dramatic disparities in maternal health for people of color, develop recommendations incorporating perspectives from affected communities, and take critical, substantive steps forward in saving the lives of pregnant people and children alike.

 

“It is unconscionable that in our Commonwealth, people giving birth today are more likely to suffer injury, illness, or death than our mothers and grandmothers who delivered in the previous century. This issue disproportionately affects pregnant people of color, even when controlled for factors such as income, age, and prenatal care. We need to do everything we can to ensure that preventable deaths are, in fact, prevented. Passing this bill would be a critical step toward that goal.”

 

S.75, An Act providing for diaper changing stations in public buildings, calls for gender-neutral, fully accessible diaper changing stations in new or substantially renovated buildings open to the public. Senator Rausch said, “We’re well into the time when parenting and caregiving happens in public; of course parents and caregivers need to change diapers when out and about. Unfortunately, if a diaper changing station can be found at all, often it’s only in a women’s restroom. What’s a dad to do? What about families with two dads? What about non-binary parents? It is 2020, and public facilities must reflect the needs of all caretakers of children in our Commonwealth. I’m thrilled to see such overwhelming support from my constituents for this common sense bill.”

 

Additionally, S.1013, An Act to promote efficiency in co-parent adoptions, received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The bill streamlines the adoption process for families where only one parent is biologically related to the child, a situation disproportionately affecting LGBTQ families. While equal parenthood is respected and recognized in the Commonwealth, the same is not true in other parts of the country and internationally. Thus, parents in this situation, the majority of whom are LGBTQ, must adopt their own children to gain the same legal protection automatically granted to all other parents. The current confirmatory adoption process is costly and complicated. This bill streamlines the process for parents who are adopting their own children, saving resources and reducing backlog in family courts across the Commonwealth.

 

Earlier in the session, S.1332, An Act relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety, also received a favorable committee report. “Home birth midwifery care in the Commonwealth is only available to those with the means to pay out-of-pocket, usually thousands of dollars. True choice only exists when you have the means to actually effectuate that choice, and this bill ensures that choice through coverage for professional midwifery services. Improving access to home birth midwives also reduces health care costs and improves quality outcomes, which is why 35 other states in the nation already provided licensure for certified professional midwives, and why Massachusetts should follow suit,” Senator Rausch said.

 

The Senator will continue advocating to pass these bills before the legislative session adjourns in July.

MA SENATE PASSES BIPARTISAN CLIMATE CHANGE PACKAGE

February 3, 2020

BOSTON - The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed a robust climate package to significantly advance the Commonwealth’s approach to combating the global warming, charting one of the most aggressive environmental protection action plans in the country.

 

An Act Setting Next Generation Climate Policy and two companion bills — one dealing with electrifying fleets and another updating energy efficiency standards for appliances  —  passed with broad bipartisan support, by a vote of 35-2. The innovative, forward-thinking components in this next generation climate package include the creation of the Climate Policy Commission, concrete actions to help get the Commonwealth to net-zero by 2050, conversion to a zero-emissions MBTA bus fleet by 2040, and the nation’s first ever statewide database of energy usage of existing large buildings. The database and related measures concerning emissions from large buildings arose from a bill Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) filed in January 2019, which was included in the next generation climate package and is the senator’s first bill to pass the Senate.

 

Senator Rausch said Thursday, “My constituents made it crystal clear that they wanted swift, meaningful action to combat climate change and push toward sustainability, and that’s exactly what my Senate colleagues and I have delivered. I am proud of my contributions to several of the components in the next generation climate package, including direct action to reduce emissions from existing large buildings and helping Senator Mike Barrett in creating the Climate Policy Commission. The robust debate on the Senate floor also offered another opportunity for me to continue advancing transparency; I secured a roll call on my amendment to bolster the provisions in the base bill about existing large buildings, which was adopted by unanimous, bipartisan vote.

MASSACHUSETTS SENATE UNVEILS  ROBUST NEXT GENERATION CLIMATE PACKAGE 

January 24, 2020

Boston, MA – Amid increasing reports of environmental devastation worldwide, the Massachusetts Senate set out major new steps to combat climate change in the Commonwealth. The Senate’s next generation climate policy package, comprised of three cohesive bills, includes central elements from a bill Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) filed to address energy usage in existing large buildings.  
 
“Existing large buildings contribute significantly to our collective carbon footprint, and upon passage of this bill, Massachusetts will be the first state in the nation to directly address this contributor to global warming,” Senator Rausch said. “The legislation will create the first-ever statewide database of large building energy usage and make that data available to the public. Once we measure it, we can mitigate it. I am also very proud to have helped Senator Mike Barrett with the idea of creating the Climate Policy Commission, an independent watchdog agency dedicated to statewide climate change accountability, now a central component of the legislative package.” 
 

In addition to creating the Climate Policy Commission and addressing large building energy consumption, the Senate’s comprehensive next generation climate policy package sets a statewide greenhouse gas limit of “net zero” emissions by the year 2050 and mandates meaningful action in all energy sectors, including transportation, electricity, and heating & cooling. For example, the legislation directs the Administration to adopt a market-based carbon pricing program for transportation by 2022, for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings by 2025, and for residential buildings by 2030. The legislation also requires a massive reduction in gas-powered vehicles owned by the Commonwealth, including a target of an all-zero-emissions MBTA bus fleet by 2040, thereby significantly improving environmental health in densely populated areas. 

MA SENATE PASSES HEALTHY YOUTH ACT

January 17, 2020

BOSTON - Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate passed S.2459, An Act relative to healthy youth, commonly known as the Healthy Youth Act, by a vote of 33-2. This bill will ensure that Massachusetts schools electing to provide their students with sex education use age-appropriate and medically accurate curriculum that covers a comprehensive range of topics. The legislation also calls for sex education to be inclusive and appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) , who voted in favor of the bill, said Thursday, “young people need and deserve safe spaces in which to learn and ask questions about all potential health outcomes of engaging in sexual activity and strategies for reducing risk. Setting a comprehensive, inclusive tone with age-appropriate and medically accurate information about consent, sexual activity, gender, and healthy relationships is central to reproductive health and justice, an issue of great importance to so many people I represent.”

Currently, when Massachusetts public schools provide their students with health education that covers sexual activity, there is no guarantee that the information provided is age-appropriate or medically accurate. The Healthy Youth Act changes this by requiring school districts that offer sex education to follow certain guidelines to ensure students are provided with age-appropriate, medically accurate, and comprehensive information, including:

●  human anatomy, reproduction, and sexual development;

●  effective contraceptive use;

●  prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs);

●  communication and other skills important to forming healthy relationships;

●  benefits of delaying sex;

●  affirmative, conscious, and voluntary consent; and

●  information about gender identity and sexual orientation, including resources that offer

support to LGBTQ students.

SEN. RAUSCH, REP. DONATO, HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS AND EDUCATORS TESTIFY IN FAVOR OF COMMUNITY IMMUNITY ACT 

December 3, 2019

Boston, MA – Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Second Assistant Majority Leader Paul Donato (D-Medford), lead sponsors of the Community Immunity Act, as well as healthcare providers, public health experts, and educators testified at a packed Public Health Committee hearing today in favor of the Community Immunity Act (S. 2359/H. 4096).  
 
This legislation seeks to prevent the spread of highly infectious diseases by promoting and supporting localized herd immunity statewide. The Community Immunity Act strengthens the Commonwealth's immunization law and policy by standardizing the immunization requirements for all schools, daycare centers, and other covered programs and centralizing within the Department of Public Health (DPH) the processes for obtaining an exemption from those requirements. 

 

 “Many people assume we are still a leader in the field of immunizations, like we are in so many other aspects of healthcare. But when I looked into existing law, I found that assumption is just not true,” said Senator Rausch. “There are a number of troubling problems with our current patchwork of immunization policies: no mandatory data reporting; no notification provisions for families in programs that have dipped below herd immunity; and no support for teachers and program administrators who are left to figure out immunization exemptions on their own, even if they have no medical professionals on staff. The practical, comprehensive public health solutions offered in the Community Immunity Act will bring Massachusetts in line with more than a dozen other states that have already implemented strong state-level immunization law and policy.” 

SEN. RAUSCH, REP. DONATO HIGHLIGHT NUMEROUS MA COMMUNITIES BELOW HERD IMMUNITY OR NOT REPORTING DATA, SHOWING NEED FOR COMMUNITY IMMUNITY ACT

October 23, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Paul Donato, Second Assistant Majority Leader (D-Medford) filed public health legislation today to reduce the threat of serious yet preventable diseases by creating standardized and centralized immunizations requirements and exemption processes for child care centers, all K-12 schools, summer camps, and colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth. Currently, Massachusetts has no consistent process for obtaining or approving immunization exemptions. Multiple communities have fallen below medically established immunization rate thresholds necessary to protect the general population from certain infectious diseases. Further, since Massachusetts also has no mandatory vaccination data reporting, hundreds of schools did not provide immunization exemption figures for the 2018-19 school year, yielding incomplete statewide public health data.

“We must act now to prevent future outbreaks of dangerous diseases,” said Senator Rausch. “We identified some major systemic issues with our immunization requirements and exemption processes. The Community Immunity Act fixes the system, and in doing so substantially reduces and hopefully fixes existing localized herd immunity problems. Since diseases do not follow school or district lines, it is imperative that we shift responsibility for immunization exemptions from the
local to the state level. We cannot meaningfully address this crucial issue without statewide consistency. As a parent and a legislator, I am compelled to take action necessary to protect our children and other vulnerable populations. The way to get good results is through good process.”

SENATOR RAUSCH, REP DONATO FILE COMMUNITY IMMUNITY ACT

October 16, 2019

Sponsors and supporters of the bill will gather for a brief speaking program and question/answer session. Speakers will include:

  • Senator Becca Rausch;

  • Leader Paul Donato;

  • Regina LaRocque, MD, MPH; Massachusetts Infectious Diseases Society;

  • Amy Delaney, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC/PC; Legislative Co-Chair, Massachusetts Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP);

  • Beth Kontos; President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Massachusetts; and

  • Representative Maria Robinson.
     

Additional speakers may be announced prior to Wednesday’s conference.

 

The Community Immunity Act, endorsed by a number of healthcare, public health, and education organizations and dozens of legislative cosponsors, focuses on standardizing immunization requirements and exemption practices in the Commonwealth in order to achieve localized herd immunity statewide and protect against highly infectious diseases.

Currently, Massachusetts has no consistent process for obtaining or approving immunization exemptions. Multiple communities have fallen below medically established immunization rate thresholds necessary to protect the general population from certain infectious diseases. Further, since Massachusetts also has no mandatory vaccination data reporting, hundreds of schools did not provide immunization rates for the 2018-19 school year, yielding incomplete statewide public health data on exemptions. A system-focused bill, the Community Immunity Act creates necessary consistency and standardized public health processes that will benefit the entire Commonwealth.

SENATOR RAUSCH, REP DONATO FILE COMMUNITY IMMUNITY ACT

September 4, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Paul Donato, Second Assistant Majority Leader (D-Medford) filed public health legislation today to reduce the threat of serious yet preventable diseases by creating standardized and centralized immunizations requirements and exemption processes for child care centers, all K-12 schools, summer camps, and colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth. Currently, Massachusetts has no consistent process for obtaining or approving immunization exemptions. Multiple communities have fallen below medically established immunization rate thresholds necessary to protect the general population from certain infectious diseases. Further, since Massachusetts also has no mandatory vaccination data reporting, hundreds of schools did not provide immunization exemption figures for the 2018-19 school year, yielding incomplete statewide public health data.

“We must act now to prevent future outbreaks of dangerous diseases,” said Senator Rausch. “We identified some major systemic issues with our immunization requirements and exemption processes. The Community Immunity Act fixes the system, and in doing so substantially reduces and hopefully fixes existing localized herd immunity problems. Since diseases do not follow school or district lines, it is imperative that we shift responsibility for immunization exemptions from the
local to the state level. We cannot meaningfully address this crucial issue without statewide consistency. As a parent and a legislator, I am compelled to take action necessary to protect our children and other vulnerable populations. The way to get good results is through good process.”

SENATOR RAUSCH, DELEGATION ACHIEVE BIG WINS IN FY2020 BUDGET

July 24, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) voted in favor of the $43.1 billion final budget for Fiscal Year 2020 on Monday, July 22. The budget, passed to be engrossed by both the House (158-0) and the Senate (39-1), makes significant investments in public education, health care, state parks, regional transit authorities, and workforce development, while also directing $476 million to the Stabilization Fund. Through her amendments, Senator Rausch secured statewide funding for Councils on Aging and $1 million (representing an $850,000 increase over last year) in grants to promote healthy dating relationships among young people, as well as notable improvements in transparency and oversight on executive spending and data management. The Senator and her many colleagues representing the 12 municipalities of the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District also secured over $2 million in local funding and infrastructure development.

 

“A budget is a comprehensive statement of our shared values,” Senator Rausch said. “Especially in my first budget experience, it was a privilege to collaborate with my legislative colleagues to improve local infrastructure, prevent unhealthy behaviors, advance public safety, promote experiential learning for our students, and improve our open spaces and playgrounds. Our teamwork is a real achievement. I am also proud and grateful that this budget contains several of my statewide priorities, including the largest investment in decades to prevent teen sexual assault and domestic violence, full funding for innovative programs supporting our seniors aging in communities of choice, and improved administrative transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness.”

SENATOR RAUSCH, REP. MIRANDA PUSH FOR ACT OF LIVING

July 16, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Liz Miranda (D-Boston) testified today before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities in support of the Act of Living (S.76/H.150), the first-year legislators’ new bill seeking to provide meaningful civil rights for people experiencing homelessness and combat discrimination based on housing status in Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts should lead on many things, but the largest increase in homelessness is not one of them,” said Senator Rausch. “This is a complicated problem stemming from an intertwined set of social system failures, including our current crises in housing and transportation, as well as ongoing mistreatment of members of the LGBTQ community. While our Commonwealth does not have meaningful and comprehensive solutions to the root causes of homelessness, we as a Legislature must do everything in our power to ensure the safety, dignity, and civil rights for our community members stuck on our streets. I am so proud to sponsor the Act of Living, a critical and timely bill to recognize and codify the humanity of our community members, regardless of whether or not they have a fixed and permanent address.”

SENATOR RAUSCH WRAPS UP SUCCESSFUL DIAPER DRIVE

July 12, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) gathered at the Grand Staircase of the State House alongside Senate President Karen Spilka, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and other legislators to conclude the month-long State House Diaper Drive spearheaded by Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem), Representative Mindy Domb (D-Amherst), and Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lee). In total, legislators collected approximately 3,000 diapers to support low-income Massachusetts families and to raise awareness for S.65/H.107, An Act relative to establishing a diaper benefits program, filed by Rep. Domb, Rep. Pignatelli, and Senator Lovely. Senator Rausch filed additional legislation to support families by requiring diaper changing stations in public buildings and accommodations (S.75).

“As a parent of two young children, I can personally attest to the burdensome cost of diapers on families,” said Senator Rausch. “I am a proud co-sponsor my colleagues’ critical and timely piece of legislation, and I will always support our Commonwealth’s children and families.”

SENATOR RAUSCH SECURES FAVORABLE REPORT ON BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY BILL

June 28, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Maria Robinson (D-Framingham), two first-year legislators, filed a new bill to address climate change and energy consumption, and advanced the bill out of the legislative committee process within their first six months in office. On June 27, the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy issued a favorable report on S. 2011, a bill to create energy efficiency standards and reporting requirements for large buildings. The bill was reported out to the Senate for further action.

 

“Time is running out to meaningfully address climate change, and building efficiency standards are a critical part of the comprehensive set of solutions we need,” said Senator Rausch. “I’ve heard from folks in my district and across the Commonwealth that they want real action to protect our environment and stimulate related job and economic growth. Like so many fellow parents, I want all of our children to have a livable, enjoyable planet in 50 years. It’s my responsibility as a Senator to make progress here.”

NEEDHAM RESIDENT GEORGINA ARRIETA-RUETENIK HONORED AS UNSUNG HEROINE BY THE MASSACHUSETTS COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN

June 18, 2019

 Georgina Arrieta-Ruetenik of Needham was named a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2019 class of Unsung Heroines. Senator Becca Rausch (DNeedham) nominated Arrieta-Ruetenik for this recognition because of her behind-the-scenes activism and commitment to serving the community of Needham. Arrieta-Ruetenik was honored with 130 other Unsung Heroines for her outstanding service in a ceremony on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in the Great Hall at the State House in Boston. 
 

[...]

“I am incredibly grateful for Georgina’s endless dedication to our town and her deep commitment to justice,” said Senator Rausch. “She has an enormous heart and an infectious smile, which she shares all over town. Through her community service, activism, and leadership, she has provided tremendous support to countless Needhamites. Women like Georgina make our community stronger, and Needham is a better place because of her.”

SENATOR BECCA RAUSCH ACHIEVES BIG WINS, VOTES FOR FY2020 SENATE BUDGET

May 28, 2019

Boston, MA – During the three full days of Senate budget debate last week, Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) successfully secured statewide funding for seniors, young people, and census work, as well as funding for critical programs and infrastructure in her district. The Senator voted in favor of the Senate FY2020 budget proposal (S.3) on Thursday evening, which passed on a unanimous, bipartisan 39-0 vote.  
 
Reflecting on her first budget as a Senator, Rausch stated, “it is a such an honor to be a member of this chamber. My colleagues and I worked collaboratively to make serious investments in areas of critical need throughout our Commonwealth, including education and health care, while maintaining a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility. I am also particularly proud to have achieved a near-90% success rate on my budget amendments, securing advancements for each of the communities in my district and the Commonwealth at large. I am grateful to so many people, including Senate President Karen Spilka and Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues, who helped me realize this tremendous accomplishment.” 

SENATOR RAUSCH ANNOUNCES "FOURTH FRIDAYS" IN-DISTRICT OFFICE HOURS

May 20, 2019

Boston, MA – Senator Rausch (D-Needham) today announced she will host her next “Fourth Fridays” office hours on Friday, May 31 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at the Plainville Public Library conference room (link here). During these office hours, held on the fourth Friday of every month, residents from any part of the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex district are welcome to meet Senator Rausch and her staff and share their opinions on state issues. 
 
Senator Rausch also announced that her summer Fourth Fridays office hours will take place from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM in the following locations:

 June 28th: Sherborn Town Hall in room 105

 July 26th:  Wellesley Town Hall in the Juliani Room

 August 16th: North Attleborough location to be announced. 

SENATOR RAUSCH AND REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON FILE LEGISLATION IN RESPONSE TO MBTA APPROVED FARE HIKE

March 12, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Maria Robinson (D-Framingham) filed legislation to add two members to the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) who will specifically represent the perspective and needs of riders. The bill, SD.2333, is a targeted response to the FMCB vote on March 11 to increase subway and commuter rail fares by six percent, despite significant opposition from state and local lawmakers and MBTA ridership.

“The needs of riders, and particularly the needs of commuter rail riders, have been ignored for too long,” Senator Rausch said Tuesday. “Representative Robinson and I agree; this legislation is an important first step to building a reliable and equitable public transit system. Increasing fares drives riders away when we should be encouraging usage. Supporting and improving ridership should decrease traffic congestion and reduce environmental impacts. When it is more expensive and less reliable to take the commuter rail into Boston than it is to drive, we all lose.”

SENATE PASSES FISCAL YEAR 2019 SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET

March 7, 2019

Boston, MA – Senator Rausch (D-Needham) joined her Senate colleagues in passing a supplemental budget that eliminates the so-called ‘Cap on Kids’ and includes $30 million for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), among other considerations.  
 
“I was proud to vote in favor of this year’s supplemental budget, and I am especially glad to go on record against the outdated and offensive ‘Cap on Kids’ policy. No child should be punished or excluded from government programs simply for being born into a family that needs financial help,” Senator Rausch said Thursday. “I’m glad that these benefits will be retroactive, so that the Governor’s veto of the policy last year will do as little damage as possible.”  

 

SENATOR RAUSCH ANNOUNCES “FOURTH FRIDAYS” IN-DISTRICT OFFICE HOURS

February 15, 2019

Senator Rausch (D-Needham) announced her in-district office hours schedule for this year, held on the fourth Friday of the month and rotating through the three regions of the district. Fourth Fridays will also rotate among the four municipalities in each region. The first three “Fourth Fridays” are as follows:

SOUTHERN REGION: Friday, February 22, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., at Morin’s Hometown Bar and Grill, 16 South Main Street, Attleboro. State Representative Jim Hawkins will join the Senator, providing a great opportunity for constituents to meet with both of their legislators.

 

CENTRAL REGION: Friday, March 22, 12:00–1:30 p.m., at Budabings, 1060 Main Street, Millis.

 

NORTHERN REGION: Friday, May 3, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Wayland, location TBA.

SENATE APPROVES FUNDS FOR CIVICS EDUCATION LAW

February 15, 2019

 Today, the Massachusetts Senate approved $1.5 million in funding for the newly created Civics Project Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will be utilized for implementation of the 2018 Civics Education Law: An Act to Enhance and Promote Civic Engagement. 


The Civics Project Trust Fund is administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to support the infrastructure, curricular resources, and professional development needed to effectively integrate high quality civic-learning in Massachusetts schools. 

 

“I proudly cosponsored and voted in favor of my colleague’s budget amendment to fund civics education in our Commonwealth. Our youth deserve a comprehensive, innovative, and experiential civics education. Without doubt, through our actions today, the Senate has again advanced our communities and meaningfully invested in the leaders of tomorrow,” said Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham).  

SENATOR RAUSCH DELIVERS POWERFUL INAUGURAL SPEECH,
ACHIEVES UNANIMOUS ADOPTION OF ANTI-HARASSMENT RULES AMENDMENT

February 1, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) delivered a powerful inaugural speech on the Senate floor during the chamber’s first formal session Thursday, highlighting her early appointment and service to the Temporary Committee on Rules and her amendment to combat sexual and identity-based harassment on Beacon Hill. The Senator achieved unanimous support for her amendment, passing on a 39-0 roll call vote.

SENATOR RAUSCH FILES BOLD LEGISLATIVE PORTFOLIO

January 25, 2019

Priorities include reproductive health and justice, good democracy and governance, and intersectional equality

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) filed a wide-ranging legislative portfolio in her first State Senate term, prioritizing advancements in reproductive health and justice, transparency and good governance, intersectional equality, supporting families, and the environment. “I made a commitment to my constituents,” Rausch said. “They want bold leadership from their State Senator. I am less than a month into the session and I am already delivering on that pledge to generate positive change.”

SENATOR RAUSCH AND REPRESENTATIVE SABADOSA FILE BILL TO COMBAT SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT ON BEACON HILL

January 17, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) filed a bill protecting members of the State House community from workplace harassment in the wake of allegations of sexual assault against Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham).

 

“Every place of work should be free from sexual harassment and assault; the State House is certainly no exception,” stated Senator Rausch. “When any member of the House of Representatives assaults, harasses, demeans, or disparages a member of the State House community, that member disrespects every colleague in the community, diminishes the voices of every voter who cast a ballot in a legislative election, and affronts every constituent in the Commonwealth.”

SENATOR RAUSCH ANNOUNCES STATE HOUSE STAFF

January 15, 2019

Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham) has hired her State House team, consisting of a Chief of Staff, General Counsel & Legislative Director, Outreach Director, and two Legislative Aides. Any member of the staff can be reached at (617) 722-1555. The office is temporarily located in room 419 of the State House.

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