Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today I voted in the affirmative for a supplemental budget that provides funding to implement our law enforcement reform bill and balance the books for Fiscal Year 2021. While we are still working on an FY2022 budget, it is not uncommon to require supplemental budgets to address pressing needs. This became even more important during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Today’s legislation also provides additional workforce retention support to early education centers, centralizes and modernizes background check requirements for organizations caring for children, and provides for permanent voting by mail.
Early Education Centers
Provides stimulus funding, distributed by DESE, to licensed early education and care facilities to assist them in workforce retention.
- $40 million to programs serving children receiving subsidies and provides remaining funding to programs serving subsidized or private-pay children
Law Enforcement Reform
Establishes a reserve for expenses associated with implementation of An Act Relative To Justice, Equity And Accountability In Law Enforcement In The Commonwealth and allows secretary of Administration and Finance to transfer funds from this reserve to state agencies for the purpose of bridge academies, expanded police training obligations, the first class of 40 diverse state police cadets and the following permanent commissions:
- Commission on the Status of African Americans;
- Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
- Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys;
- Model School Resource Memorandum of Understanding Review Commission; and
- Commission on Correction Officers and Juvenile Detention Officers.
Modernized Background Checks for Organizations Serving Children
Understanding the need to ensure the safety of children in the Commonwealth, the supplemental budget:
- Requires and outlines the mandates for organizations that provide care or care placement services, such as adoption agencies and foster care placement agencies, to fingerprint, perform background checks, and verify the sex offender registry status of individuals who have or who seek to care of a child served by that organization;
- Requires organizations to use information received from these checks to evaluate if a person is safe to care for children.
- Allows DCF and the Department of Early Education and Care and the agencies that contract with them to access background check information gathered by other organizations.
Permanent Vote by Mail
Additionally, the supplemental budget improves voter access in the Commonwealth. For years we have fought to improve voting rights in our Commonwealth, including the implementation of early voting in 2014 and automatic voter registration in 2018. Last session, the Legislature made great strides in improving voter access by allowing all registered voters to vote early and by mail. Today, the House reaffirmed its commitment to voter access by taking the first step in codifying these improvements into law for state elections.
Key provisions of today’s legislation regarding voter access include early in person voting, beginning two weeks prior to the election including weekends, and allow all registered voters in the Commonwealth the ability to vote by mail. Voters will receive additional information regarding improved access through a public awareness campaign conducted by the Secretary of State in which voters will be provided information on expanded early voting options in elections and the processes for early voting by mail.
The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. I will continue to update you on this legislation throughout the process.
13th Norfolk District