Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I would like to continue our conversation on racial equity by sharing some of my recent work. I appreciate your communications and I am grateful for the opportunity, as your State Representative, to be engaged in meaningful initiatives led by members of the Black and Latino Caucus.
On June 30, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives to enact legislation that guarantees your right to vote in person or by mail after completing an application mailed to your home in both the primary and general elections this Fall. This bill is a valuable tool to expand voting options in this uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic and to defeat voter suppression. Registered voters will receive two applications to request mail-in ballots: one will be mailed by July 15th for the primary election, and another in September for those who want to vote by mail in the general election. All vote by mail ballots will be accompanied by an envelope with pre-paid return postage, removing an unnecessary barrier to participation. In addition, this legislation provides absentee voting for any person taking precaution related to COVID-19. In an effort to combat voter suppression and ensure access to voting polls, this bill requires that prior to a change in polling location, the select board (in the case of Needham, Medfield, and Dover) or city/town council must evaluate and report on whether the change in location would have a disparate adverse impact on access to the polls on the basis of race, national origin, disability, income or age, and release the report 3 days before a change is made. While it is just the beginning of what we must do to address historic structural injustices, Massachusetts can be a leader for the rest of the country. Voter suppression is one of the gravest threats to our democracy. Increasing access to the ballot box is one of the strongest ways we can combat the voter suppression that is directly related to the racism that plagues our country. Promoting participation in the democratic process is the critical to ensure decent and empathetic leaders that reflect our values and our goals are elected to positions in our towns, state and at the federal level in the Congress and White House
In the same formal session today, I joined with my colleagues in the House to unanimously vote for An Act to reduce racial inequities in maternal health. This bill requires formation of a legislative commission tasked with examining and making recommendations on reducing and eliminating racial inequities in maternal mortality. According to the CDC, pregnancy related deaths in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) women occur approximately 3 times more often than white women on average and rises to 4 times more likely in women over the age of 30. This legislation serves as the conduit to substantive change to improve the health outcomes of BIPOC women across the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has taken steps to ensure meaningful change, but there is so much more work to do. I shared with you that I am listening and learning every day and I have cosponsored the following legislation recommended by the Black and Latino Caucus to support tangible reform to the systems and structures of racism in our Commonwealth.
- HD.5128 – An Act relative to saving black lives and transforming public safety, filed by Representative Liz Miranda;
- H.2146 – Resolve providing for a “Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training” to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of a Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) system, filed by Representative David Vieira and Representative Russell Holmes;
- H.3277 – An Act to secure civil rights through the courts of the Commonwealth, filed by Representative Michael Day.
I will continue to listen to you my constituents, my colleagues in the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, and all stakeholders for racial equity. We must continue our conversations, we must be committed to listening and learning so that our words will inform the necessary actions to move the Commonwealth forward.
Yours in service,