Issues and Concerns

Protecting Healthcare for All Residents
Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. As the Chief Sponsor of the Medicare for All bill, I believe in streamlining and consolidating the finances and administration of healthcare in order to reduce cost, waste, and inefficiencies so that more time and resources for patient care is available. Ensuring accessible, affordable, quality care for all residents of the Commonwealth, including our most vulnerable populations, is one of top priorities. In the face of an ever-changing healthcare landscape, it is vital to continue to assess healthcare standards.

Community Partners

MassCARE (Endorsed), Campaign for Children’s Health, MA School Nurses Association, Massachusetts Nurses Association (Endorsed), MA Chapter of National Association of Social Workers.

Accomplishments (Selected):

  • 2012 Healthcare Cost Containment Law: Intended to control the growth of healthcare costs and improve access and quality, this bill created new commissions and agencies to monitor and enforce the benchmark for healthcare market power, price variation, and cost growth.
  • Tobacco 21: As a member of the Needham Board of Health, one of my first votes was to raise the age to purchase tobacco and tobacco products to 21. This year, I was proud to vote again as the state followed in Needham’s footsteps, raising the age to purchase tobacco, tobacco products, and vaping products to 21 state-wide.
  • Opioid legislation: As Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder, I have spearheaded through its enactment legislation that focuses on prevention, pain management, strengthening the healthcare workforce, expanding the behavioral health system, and expanding access to care and treatment.
Quality Public Education for Our Children

According to the US News and World Report, Massachusetts is ranked number 1 in education in the country, and the 13th Norfolk District — Needham, Dover, and Medfield — ranks in the top tier in the state. However, we have so much more work to do to close the achievement gap in our state and ensuring that all of our children — no matter their race, their family’s socio-economic status, or what neighborhood they live in — are able to succeed in our public schools. In the House, I voted in favor of reforming the Foundation Budget Formula and was deeply disappointed that we were unable to find consensus on updating the formula. I vow to continue working to find this consensus to ensure that we are fully funding our schools and giving our students, teachers, and administrators the tools they need to thrive.

As a mother whose 4 children have attended the public schools in our district, I am committed to prioritizing education. As the former Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, I have developed important education policies that serve our community members with developmental disabilities and autism, ensuring that all our children have opportunities to learn and flourish.

Community Partners:

Needham School Superintendent Dr. Dan Gutekanst, Medfield Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Marsden, Dover Superintendent Dr. Andrew Keough, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials, Massachusetts Teachers Association (endorsed).

Accomplishments (Selected):

  • An act relative to language opportunities for our kids: Passed in 2002, the sheltered English immersion law (SEI) mandates one year of intensive English instruction for limited English proficient students before transitioning into regular classrooms. The LOOK bill provides a mechanism for districts to offer English language programs that best fit the needs of their English learner population, while ensuring accountability through department oversight.
  • An act relative to early childhood education: Adds a requirement that the early education subsidy rate structure adequately support high-quality education for low-income youth.
  • Special Education Circuit Breaker: The FY19 budget contained $319,345,293 for the special education circuit breaker, an increase of $2.56 million from FY18.
  • Chapter 70 Aid: The FY19 budget includes $4.9B for Chapter 70 aid, which represents a $160.6 million increase over FY18. This record level of funding not only ensures that all school districts reach their foundation budget level, but also provides a minimum $30 per-student aid increase for all districts that would otherwise not receive increases.

Local Chapter 70 (Education) Funding

  • Needham Chapter 70 Funding: $9,876,152 – Increase of $709,792 from FY18 budget
  • Medfield Chapter 70 Funding: $6,213,144 – Increase of $75,360 from FY18 budget
  • Dover Chapter 70 Funding: $812,073 – Increase of $44,217 from FY18 budget
Common-Sense Gun Violence Reform

I am strongly in support of common-sense gun violence reform legislation, which promotes public health and public safety. Massachusetts has the best and the strictest gun laws in the nation and the lowest death rate, thanks to our vigilant efforts. As the Chair of the Needham Coalition for Suicide Prevention, I find it particularly important that our state has the lowest suicide rate by a firearm.

Community Partners:

I have worked with constituents, Moms Demand Action (Gun Sense Candidate with Distinction), and worked with students in the Metrowest area. MA has had a long ban on semiautomatic assault weapons, strict licensing rules, and bans anyone convicted of a violent crime or drug trafficking from carrying or owning a gun.

Accomplishments (Selected):

  • An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence: In 2014, the omnibus gun safety bill, which I was proud to work on and vote for, contained provisions that included new gun licensing procedures, new background checks for firearms sold at gun shows and private sales, school safety initiatives, increased penalties for firearms offenses, and increased efforts for suicide awareness and prevention.
  • Voted for a ban on bump stocks and trigger cranks, which were used in the Las Vegas massacre.
  • Extreme risk protection orders: This session, I advocated for and voted to create a process by which firearms can be removed from dangerous individuals to keep themselves and others safe.
Investing in a Clean Energy Future

Climate change is real and it is happening right at this moment. I share our community’s deep concern about climate change — and I know that investing in clean energy is key to the future of our state.

I have been working on multiple clean energy policies, including raising both the renewable portfolio standard and the net metering cap. I am also in strong support of policies that promote environmental justice. Although there is still much work to do, I am proud that the Legislature has made significant investments in energy storage technology, which will be absolutely vital to transforming our grid to 100% renewable sources and to promoting electric vehicles, which will decarbonize our transportation sector — the sector that produces the most emissions (40%) in MA.

Community Partners:

Green Needham, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Interfaith Group for Environmental Justice, League of Women Voters,

Accomplishments (Selected):

  • Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program (MVP): Provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects.
  • Energy Diversity Act: Set high procurements for offshore wind and large-scale hydropower, representing the largest purchase of clean energy in Massachusetts history.
  • An act to advance clean energy: Authorizes the establishment of programs related to energy storage, renewable energy sources, and other clean energy technologies. Established energy efficiency standards for appliances.
Efficient, Accessible, and Reliable Transportation

One of the most predominant issues I hear from constituents is regarding transportation — whether it’s the train, the traffic, the add-a-lane project, bicycles, and pedestrian safety — these issues affect nearly everyone in our Towns. I have met with constituents, interest groups, and other stakeholders on a myriad of issues related to transportation in Needham.

In the light of the recent tragedy in the town of Needham, I worked to successfully secure $200,000 in funds for Needham pedestrian safety improvements.

I have worked to be responsive to concerns about the MBTA. Through advocacy and collaboration with the Town and Keolis/MBTA, I restored Saturday commuter rail service and were able to change the departure time of an important morning commuter train to better meet the needs of commuters. I have worked to establish better practices to manage train idling and, in response to concerns, Kelois is currently working on the maintenance and repair of train platforms.

I have continuously partnered with MassDOT to ensure a high level of communication with constituents as the Add-a-Lane project has progressed and worked with individual constituents who have specific, related issues and concerns. Furthermore, I have worked to preserve the 59 bus route, which transports older adults and those with disabilities and I successfully secured the $70,000 that allowed the construction of the Rail Trail, in which the town delights.

Community Partnerships:

Town of Needham, Department of Public Works, Department of Public Safety, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Leadership of Keolis/MBTA, and the Needham Transportation Committee.

Justice for All: A Fair System

This session, the Legislature passed comprehensive criminal justice legislation, seeking to fulfill the promise of justice for all. In the past, there have been – and still are – racial and socio-economic inequalities in our criminal justice system, and the omnibus bill passed this year worked to change that.

Community Partners:

Progressive Needham, League of Women Voters.

Accomplishments:

Criminal justice omnibus reform bill

Key provisions:

  • Eliminates certain mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses.
  • Codified the Brangan decision; requires that bail be set no higher that the person’s financial resources allow, so that people are not held pre-trial for an inability to pay. Eliminates ‘fine time’, wherein defendents have to serve jail time because they are unable to pay court fees and fines.
  • Increases access to diversion programs, especially for those with a substance use order, mental illness, for veterans, and for juveniles.
  • Establishes solitary confinement reforms.
Championing Women’s Rights

As a woman, a mother, a nurse, I support a woman’s right to make all choices, including reproductive choices. I support laws that guarentee this right and I work to ensure access to quality healthcare and education and advocacy services. A woman’s right to these services should be readily available in safe settings that preserve and protect the privacy and rights of each individual, regardless of income, age, marital status, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. While I have always been commited to these goals, I know that in light of the present federal dynamics, which threaten these goals, we must be vigilant and determined.

Community Partners:

Planned Parenthood (Endorsed), NARAL Pro-Choice (Endorsed).

Accomplishments (Selected):

  • Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Outlaws discrimination and establishes rights for pregnant and nursing women and promotes their health and economic security.
  • An act relative to contraceptive coverage: Ensures that, no matter what happens at the federal level, insurers in MA will have to continue to provide contraceptives without copays or deductibles.
  • An act negating archaic statutes targeting young women: Removes antiquated statutes from MA law, including restrictions on abortion, contraception for homosexual couples, punishment for pharmacists giving out contraception, punishment for doctors performing abortions, and sharing information about contraception or abortion.
  • Legislation to create a sexual assault kit tracking system: This year, the Legislature voted in favor of and funded the creation of a sexual assault evidence kit tracking system. It is vital for us to ensure that the evidence from a sexual assault is not lost or destroyed and that victims can decide how they would like to pursue their individual cases when and if they are ready to do so.
Standing With Our LGBTQ Community

Massachusetts has been a leader on rights for our LGBTQ community members and we have made it clear that discrimination has no place in our state.

LGBTQ rights have always been important to me, as Chair of the LGBTQ Aging Commission and as chief sponsor of the funding for the LGBTQ Youth Commission.

I was proud to vote for the transgender anti-discrimination bill in 2016, which protects transgender people from discrimination in public places, such as restaurants, stores, hospitals, and in restrooms, and encourage everyone to Vote Yes on 3 and uphold this important law.