Senator Spilka has filed the following bills for the 2015-2016 legislative session:
An Act relative to Innovative Communities
An Act establishing a family and medical leave and temporary disability leave insurance program
An Act to promote transparency, best practices and better outcomes for children and communities
An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare
An Act relative to providing for disposition of surplus state real property based on smart growth land use policies
An Act relative to women’s health and cancer recovery
An Act to revise the interstate compact on the placement of children
An Act to allow single family homeowners to deduct their municipal water, sewer and trash fees from their state income tax
An Act to create property tax credits for individuals with disabilities
An Act concerning Gateway Municipalities
An Act encouraging small business growth in the Commonwealth
An Act enhancing department of revenue reporting
An Act ensuring healthcare coverage for youth who have aged-out of the department of children and families
An Act establishing an eastern Massachusetts women’s county corrections facility
An Act to extend single sales factor apportionment to all retail and wholesale corporations
An Act to freeze the tolls on the Massachusetts turnpike and the metropolitan highway system.
An Act to further regulate employee benefits
An Act to prohibit tolls on the Massachusetts turnpike.
An Act to promote fairness and equity in transportation planning
An Act to evaluate the economic impact of transportation projects.
An Act relative to charter school community impacts
An Act relative to cyclist safety
An Act relative to distinctive license plates
An Act relative to expungement of criminal or juvenile records for individuals who committed offenses as children or young adults
An Act to protect animals during pet sales.
An Act relative to special education reimbursements
An Act relative to spousal waiver for home and community based services for physically disabled adults age 60 and under
An Act relative to the geographical jurisdiction of the Housing Court Department
An Act relative to the office of the child advocate
An Act relative to the retirement benefits of certain widows and surviving spouses
An Act requiring disclosure of financial incentives to prescribe or dispense certain drugs
An Act to rescind an order terminating parental rights
An Act to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship by partnering world-class innovators with state agencies
An Act to address the lack of sex-specific data in Massachusetts
An Act to clarify the net-worth measure of the corporate excise
An Act relative to the placement of foster children with their siblings.
An Act to make habilitative services available to the children of the Commonwealth
An Act to promote consistency and transparency in construction contracting
An Act to promote global trade and economic development through dual language and bi-literacy
An Act to promote higher education among employees of human services provider organizations
An Act to promote reusable energy use in the Commonwealth
An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare
An Act to update privacy protections for personal electronic information.
An Act to protect the Commonwealth’s residents from identity theft
An Act to provide greater protection in registry of motor vehicle hearings
An Act to reduce the risks associated with allergic reactions.
An Act to reform state economic substance rules
An Act creating an advance directives registry
An Act prohibiting the use of bisphenol-A in consumer products
An Act relative to the civil commitment for alcoholism or substance abuse at certain facilities
An Act to ensure microbead-free water
An Act to strengthen working families by increasing tax exemptions and dependent care tax credits
An Act to grant authority to the secretary of the department of transportation to charge and collect tolls on the roadways of the Commonwealth
An Act to interrupt the school to prison pipeline. (By Request)
An Act creating a special commission to study the health impacts of electromagnetic fields (By Request)
An Act relative to the posting of nail polish warning notices in manicure shops (By Request)
Below are the bills Senator Spilka filed for the 2013-2014 legislative session.
An Act to Create and Maintain Jobs in the Commonwealth
Senate Bill 193
This bill seeks to spur job creation in the Commonwealth by addressing the challenges identified by the Jobs Creation Commission, chaired by Senator Spilka, that hinder job retention and creation efforts throughout the state. This legislation targets a wide range of areas designed to promote job growth, including creating an internship program for unemployed job seekers to provide them with on-the-job training and skills they need to be eligible for current job openings, supporting programs to help veterans identify the skills they acquired from their military service and how to translate them to the working world, establishing a plan through the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership to promote the state to outside businesses, requiring one-stop career centers to offer resources and training to improve technology skills of job seekers, and promoting science, technology, engineering, and math in the state’s core curriculum.
An Act to Accelerate Entrepreneurship and Innovation by Partnering World-Class Entrepreneurs with State Agencies
Senate Bill 191
This bill authorizes the state’s Executive Offices to establish a pilot Entrepreneur-in-Residence program to place successful entrepreneurs in state agencies to identify ways to make agency services and operations simpler, more efficient, and more responsive to the needs of entrepreneurs and businesses and thereby promote job creation and economic development. The program would work to encourage improved public-private coordination, address entrepreneur and business obstacles and opportunities, and identify ineffective or duplicative government programs.
An Act Providing for the Evaluation of the Economic Impact of Transportation Projects
Senate Bill 190
This bill requires that prior to the placement or rescheduling of any project over $10 million on the Commonwealth’s statewide transportation plan, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development consult with the project sponsor, the Department of Transportation, the applicable metropolitan planning organization, and other interested parties, and issue a statement on the economic benefits of the project. The statement must include a finding as to whether the project is consistent with the needs for commercial and industrial or residential growth in the Commonwealth, the public benefit anticipated from the completion of the project, and a comment as to whether the project is likely to improve the economic vitality of the Commonwealth.
An Act to Promote Global Trade and Economic Development through Dual Language and Bi-literacy
Senate Bill 270
This bill seeks to promote and expand dual language educational programs in the Commonwealth, and promote long term economic development and trade between Massachusetts and foreign countries. The legislation establishes an office of dual language educational programs to promote and provide technical assistance to dual language educational programs and creates a State Seal of Bi-literacy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.
An Act to Reform State Economic Substance Rules
Senate Bill 1421
This bill replaces the state’s economic substance doctrine with the strong federal version in order to make the tax process clearer and more predictable for companies in all industries. The bill allows the State Tax Commissioner to disallow asserted tax consequences of transactions that do not have economic substance, otherwise regarded as “sham” transactions. The commissioner can void the tax benefits of a transaction if the transaction has no economic purpose other than the tax benefit itself. The taxpayer has the burden of demonstrating that the transaction changes the taxpayer’s economic position in a meaningful way and that the taxpayer has a substantial non-state-tax purpose for entering into the transaction.
An Act Extending Single Sales Factor Apportionment to All Retail and Wholesale Corporations
Senate Bill 1420
This bill simplifies and improves taxation of certain corporations. Under the current system, Massachusetts based companies are taxed more than those based out-of-state who earn the same amount of income. This bill would reduce taxes on Massachusetts based companies, leveling the playing field so that both Massachusetts and out-of-state retailers and wholesalers pay the same amount of tax on the same amount of income. Many other states have adopted this “single sales factor” apportionment and Massachusetts has already adopted it for the defense, manufacturing and financial services related industries.
The Electronic Privacy Act (An Act Updating Privacy Protections for Personal Electronic Information)
Senate Bill 796
This bill requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access personal electronic information from telephone and internet service providers. Personal information includes customers’ location information; who the customer communicates with, when, and for how long; the content of those communications; and other usage and billing information. To conduct a search of an individual’s personal property, the government must obtain a warrant from a court, and its application for the warrant must show that there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found in the search. This bill will help bring current Massachusetts law and practices governing search warrants into the digital age.
An Act to Establish a Foreclosure Mediation Program
Senate Bill 492
This bill establishes a foreclosure mediation program in the Commonwealth, giving homeowners and lenders the opportunity to meet prior to foreclosure proceedings to work out renegotiated loan terms through a neutral third party. This will provide borrowers and lenders the chance to meet face-to-face to try and facilitate the best solution possible.
An Act to Protect the Commonwealth’s Residents from Identity Theft
Senate Bill 793
Identity crime is a significant and growing problem affecting thousands of the Commonwealth’s citizens. Existing laws and regulations focus on some identity crime issues, while additional areas remain neglected or incomplete, leaving residents vulnerable. This legislation takes comprehensive steps to address these gaps by encouraging law enforcement officials to work together and receive training in identity crime, supporting identity theft victims, providing additional protections of personal information, and addressing some of the specific tactics used by identity thieves. The bill also creates a uniform identity theft resource and instructional steps guide to provide all alleged victims with a clear outline of the action they need to take and which agencies they can turn to for assistance.
An Act to Protect Children from Bisphenol-A
Senate Bill 400
This bill is specifically intended to protect children under the age of three, one of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations. More than 130 studies suggest that low-dose exposure to bisphenol-A—common in baby bottles, toys, and other child care articles—is linked to a staggering number of health problems. This bill prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution in commerce of any toy, child care article, infant formula bottle and baby food container that is intended for a child under 3 years of age if that product contains bisphenol-A. This bill also requires manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative when replacing bisphenol-A in their products.
An Act Establishing a Cell Phone Users’ Bill of Rights
Senate Bill 1617
This bill establishes a cell phone users’ bill of rights to afford consumers better disclosure regarding rates and fees, contract terms, and wireless coverage area. It provides recourse to resolve billing disputes and errors, eliminates long term contracts and provides less restrictive contract terms, such as a risk-free trial period to test the phone and service.
An Act Protecting Engineers, Architects, Environmental Professionals, Landscape Architects, Planners, Surveyors, Licensed Site Professionals, and Contractors who Render Voluntary Services at the Scene of a Disaster or Catastrophe
Senate Bill 795
This Good Samaritan bill provides liability protection for professional engineers, architects, environmental professionals, landscape architects, planners, land surveyors, licensed site professionals, and contractors who render voluntary services at the scene of a disaster or catastrophe. The legislation stipulates that these professionals who voluntarily and without compensation provide engineering services in response to a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other catastrophic event shall not be liable for any personal injury wrongful death, property damage, or other loss caused by the engineer’s acts, errors or omissions in the performance of such services. Immunity would not be applied in cases of wonton, willful, or intentional conduct.
An Act Prohibiting Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike
Senate Bill 1705
This bill prohibits the collection of tolls or charges for transit along interstate highway route 90, which have placed an unfair financial burden on the commuters and residents of the MetroWest region.
An Act Freezing the Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike and the Metropolitan Highway System
Senate Bill 1704
This bill calls for all tolls in the Commonwealth, including the Massachusetts Turnpike, the 128 and Allston/Brighton tolls, the tunnels, and the Tobin Bridge, to be frozen at January 1, 2008 rates.
An Act to Grant Authority to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works to Charge and Collect Tolls at the Borders of the Commonwealth
Senate Bill 1702
This bill gives Massachusetts Department of Transportation the authority to place tolls on all major routes at the Commonwealth’s borders with New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
An Act Promoting Fairness and Equity in Transportation Planning
Senate Bill 1706
This bill seeks to more fully accomplish a comprehensive and coordinated intermodal transportation plan for the Commonwealth, by directing the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and the Secretary of Transportation to develop coordination mechanisms for both sub-regional and joint transportation planning by metropolitan planning organizations in order to better maintain, expand and improve transportation within the state. It also directs the Department of Transportation to study the MPO structure in Massachusetts and the methods used to decide when and where transportation projects are built.
An Act Providing for Public Input into Public Transit Decisions
Senate Bill 1707
This bill requires each transit authority to perform a community-led comprehensive service assessment that includes a market analysis, a performance analysis of the existing service, and recommendations to better align services with local demand, regional job creation goals, and statewide environmental goals. It mandates that a regular rider of the MBTA and a labor representative be included on the MBTA/MassDOT Board of Directors and on the authority advisory boards of the regional transit authorities. Finally, it requires a study assessing the feasibility of establishing one or more facilities for the purposes of overhaul and other major repair, manufacture or assembly, installation, and upgrade of mass transit vehicles in service throughout the Commonwealth.
Heather’s Bill (An Act Relative to the Release of a Body by the Medical Examiner to a Person Charged with an Offense which Resulted in the Death of the Deceased)
Senate Bill 1099
This bill addresses the injustices which occurred in the aftermath of the domestic violence murder of Heather Alleyne, 19, of Framingham on August 9, 2010. Heather’s husband was charged with the murder and then refused to allow Heather’s body to be released to her family for burial. Despite being charged with her murder, her husband still had control over her body as next of kin. This bill also addresses another fairness issue discovered after a domestic violence multiple murder. In this case, Thomas Mortimer, who pleaded guilty to killing his wife, his two young children, and his mother-in-law on June 16, 2010 last October, sought to use his children’s college fund to pay for his legal fees and bail.
Under this bill, in a situation where the next of kin is a prime suspect in the murder case, as determined by the medical examiner, that person will be skipped for rights to an estate and body. The rights to the estate and body of the victim will go to the person next on the list of next of kin. This allows for families to gain rights to an estate and body without the long and expensive process of attaining a lawyer and going through a full court proceeding. The suspect can appeal the decision of the medical examiner.
An Act to Permit the Setting of Both Cash Bail and Pretrial Conditions in Domestic Violence Matters
Senate Bill 791
This bill amends certain chapters of the criminal law to allow judges to set both cash bail and pretrial conditions in cases of domestic violence. Currently, the domestic violence bail statute only allows the judge to impose a cash bail or to set pretrial conditions of release. Because the purpose of setting cash bail is to address the defendant’s flight risk and the setting of pretrial conditions is to ensure the safety of the victim, witnesses, and community – two completely separate purposes – a judge should be authorized to address both purposes regardless of the statute under which bail is imposed.
An Act Relative to Domestic Violence by Repeat Offenders
Senate Bill 794
This bill creates a new aggravated assault and battery charge when the victim is a household or family member and the defendant is a repeat offender, previously convicted of certain violent crimes. This bill also allows a judge to prohibit the defendant from contacting the victim while out on bail. Ultimately, this bill improves the state’s ability to properly serve victims of domestic violence and ensures that victims of repeat, violent domestic batterers are protected.
An Act to Enhance Safety and Security in Courthouses
Senate Bill 792
This bill deters criminal conduct in court houses to ensure that those who work in the court system or come to our courts as jurors, witnesses, parties or attorneys will be safe and secure. The bill makes assaults and assault and battery offenses, committed on court property while courts are in session or open to the public, felony offenses. The bill also increases the potential penalty for willful disruption of court proceedings, and for certain threats to do bodily harm to court staff, jurors, prosecutors and attorneys, due to their performance of official duties, to a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
Municipal Tools, Public Land, and Environmental Stewardship
An Act Relative to Special Education Reimbursements
Senate Bill 269
This bill provides a financial incentive to encourage school districts to create programs to serve special education students in more cost effective district placements. Current law states that municipalities will be reimbursed at 75 percent of all approved costs that exceed 4 times the state average per pupil foundation budget. This bill adjusts the formula to provide 100 percent of all the approved costs that exceed 4 times the state average per pupil cost for the previous fiscal year.
An Act Providing for the Reimbursement of Expenditures Related to Special Elections to Fill Vacancies in the State’s Congressional Delegation
Senate Bill 337
Massachusetts currently reimburses local governments up to 100% for expenditures related to special elections to fill vacancies to the General Court, but does not provide any reimbursement for federal special elections. This bill extends the same method of reimbursement to special elections of United States Representatives or Senators.
An Act Concerning Gateway Municipalities
Senate Bill 192
This bill changes the definition of Gateway Municipality to include those cities that meet the population and household income requirements and have a rate of educational attainment of a bachelor’s degree or above that is no greater than 7 percentage points above the state average.
An Act to Assist Public Water Suppliers and to Safeguard Adequate Water Supplies
Senate Bill 972
The long-term sustainability of the Commonwealth’s public water supplies may be seriously threatened if local towns are not provided with the tools to meet the increased demand for water. This bill supplies local authorities with the tools to safeguard the long-term sustainability of public water supplies. It provides water districts with the ability to require permits for the digging of private wells, allows them to regulate private well operation and requires them to consider long-term sustainability in adopting a water supply distribution system. This bill also allows communities to create Sustainable Water Resource Funds. The community may assess reasonable fees to be used exclusively by the fund to support local projects that can offset the impacts of the increased water use.
An Act Providing for Disposition of Surplus State Real Property Based on Smart Growth Land Use Policies
Senate Bill 1535
The bill would empower local communities and key stakeholders, benefit the public while generating revenue for the Commonwealth, and promote smart growth principles by reforming the current procedure for declaring state land surplus and effecting dispositions of this land. The bill would create a Surplus Land Coordination Committee to guide the disposition process and enhance coordination among state agencies, establish a professional smart growth review by the regional planning agency for significant parcels, and set consistent timeframes for parcel disposition. The bill would also allow a right of first refusal for municipalities to purchase surplus parcels, direct funding to the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund, and create a Capital Projects Trust Fund to be used to meet the capital improvement needs of the Commonwealth, consisting of a portion of net cash proceeds of the Commonwealth’s disposition of surplus real property.
An Act to Promote Reusable Energy Use in the Commonwealth
Senate Bill 1418
This bill creates a one-time tax credit, not exceeding $1,000 for single-unit dwellings or $1,500 for multi-unit residential properties, for the purchase of energy efficient heating items.
An Act Relative to Reusable Beverage Containers
Senate Bill 1616
Bottle redemption handling fees have remained the same for 21 years. These current fees do not reflect the increased cost of doing business, which has forced many redemption centers to close. Bottle redemption centers not only provide a business opportunity and a source of revenue for many in the Commonwealth, but they also offer an environmental benefit by increasing recycling rates. This bill would update the bottle redemption laws to reflect changes in cost of doing business today by increasing the handling fee by 1 cent, requiring a review of the handling fee every five years, and requiring distributors to pick up containers from redemption centers free of charge.
Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities
An Act to Expand Juvenile Jurisdiction, Increase Public Safety, and Protect Children from Harm
Senate Bill 26
Current law requires that all 17 year-olds accused of a crime to be automatically tried as adults in criminal court, regardless of the circumstances or severity of the offense. This bill raises juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17 year-old offenders, and makes corresponding changes to the General Laws. Ultimately, this bill improves public safety, while bringing the Commonwealth’s approach to young criminal offenders in line with most other states, recent developmental research, and many other legal age limits in the Commonwealth.
An Act Establishing Age-Appropriate Accountability for Children
Senate Bill 797
This bill eliminates the Commonwealth’s unconstitutional sentencing scheme, which currently mandates a life without parole sentence for anyone age 14 or older who is convicted of first degree murder. Second, the bill provides judges with discretion to sentence based on both the circumstances of the offense and the individual before the court. Finally, the bill requires that young people have sufficient access to programming while in prison and have increased opportunity to demonstrate rehabilitation and earn a pathway to parole, when appropriate.
An Act Revising the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
Senate Bill 25
The goal of this legislation is to ensure a more effective, efficient, and fair process for the interstate movement of children. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), as adopted in 1960 and as currently implemented, is not an effective mechanism for states to ensure that children placed across state lines for purposes of foster care or adoption are placed with safe, suitable parents that can provide proper care. This bill revises the ICPC and makes the application of the compact more uniform, creates an interstate administrative body to promulgate rules and regulations, clarifies the state responsibilities, and establishes timeframes for approval. Ultimately, this revision of the ICPC will ensure that children placed out-of-state need to be assured of that they will receive the same protections and services as if they remained in their home states.
An Act Relative to Children who are the Subject of an Abuse and Neglect Investigation
Senate Bill 31
This bill seeks to prevent a child subject to a care and protection order from being assigned a parole officer or put in the court system, while still allowing a judge to send a probation officer to the home to complete a home study or act as an agent for the court. It also seeks to expunge the record of any child who has ever been assigned a parole officer because of a care and protection order.
An Act to Keep Siblings Together
Senate Bill 39
This bill ensures that vulnerable children in foster care are placed with their siblings unless the Department of Children and Families can show by clear and convincing evidence that the children’s best interests require that they be separated. The Department can always separate siblings when safety so requires, but this bill ensures that such separations do not occur simply because of administrative convenience or carelessness. It also ensures regular and timely court oversight of sibling placements.
An Act Rescinding an Order Terminating Parental Rights
Senate Bill 798
This bill specifies that neither parent shall be considered a party in a hearing on a motion to vacate an order terminating parental rights and neither parent has an independent right to be heard. It also makes clear that a child who is the subject of a failed adoption may file such a motion, if the other requirements of the bill are met.
An Act to Prevent Shackling and Promote Safe Pregnancies for Female Inmates
Senate Bill 1171
This bill prohibits the shackling of women during pregnancy, labor and delivery in Massachusetts state and county correctional facilities. It further outlines basic standards of prenatal and postpartum care to ensure safe and healthy outcomes for female prisoners and their pregnancies and to promote good reproductive health for women returning to their communities.
An Act Relative to the Civil Commitment for Alcoholism or Substance Abuse at Certain Facilities
Senate Bill 921
Currently, people who are civilly committed are subject to incarceration at either MCI Framingham or MCI Bridgewater. Since the main purpose of civil commitment is to provide detoxification and remove the danger of harm to oneself or others, placing an individual in either facility is unduly punitive and not conducive to substance abuse treatment. This prohibits the placement of civilly committed individuals to these facilities and requires the Department of Mental Health, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, to create standardized evaluation tools for assessing civilly committed men and women. These departments shall also provide a study detailing the needs required to meet the obligations of this bill.
An Act to Provide Greater Protection in Registry of Motor Vehicle Hearings
Senate Bill 1703
This bill prevents the disabled from having their licenses revoked because of mental or physical handicap.
An Act Relative to Spousal Waiver for Home and Community-Based Services for Physically Disabled Adults Age 60 and Under
Senate Bill 564
Adults with chronic, disabling conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s Disease and epilepsy are often ineligible for Medicaid because of their working spouse’s income. The existing rule penalizes these disabled, married individuals because it forces them to choose between MassHealth coverage or their marriage. This bill requires the rules to be waived so that spousal income and assets are excluded when determining Medicaid eligibility for physically disabled adults aged 19-60 who meet the criteria for nursing home care.
An Act to Make Habilitative Services Available to the Children of the Commonwealth
Senate Bill 494
Private health insurers have traditionally denied coverage for: Occupational therapy (OT), Physical therapy (PT), and speech therapy (ST) to children born with developmental delays. Insurers do so because they distinguish between “rehabilitation” and “habilitation” in their insurance contracts. Children with congenital or genetic disabilities have never attained a specific level of skill to lose, so insurers deny reimbursement for these vital services. Chapter 207 of the Acts of 2010 requires private health insurance to cover habilitative and rehabilitative services for individuals who are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This bill extends that coverage for habilitative care to developmentally delayed children younger than 19 years old. It requires insurance coverage for developmentally delayed children for OT, PT, and ST in order to allow a child to attain or retain the capability to function age appropriately within their environment and to enhance their functional ability.
An Act to Promote Higher Education Among Employees of Human Services Provider Organizations
Senate Bill 587
This bill allows employees who work for a state-contracted provider and the employees’ spouse to receive tuition reimbursement for any courses or programs taken at either a community college or a state college or university.
An Act Further Regulating Employee Benefits
Senate Bill 1288
This bill provides a “killed in the line of duty” benefit, in the form of a 1-time payment of $100,000, to the family of Massachusetts Department of Transportation employees killed on or after September 14, 2010 in the line of duty, or who have sustained injuries that were the direct and proximate cause of the employee’s death while working on construction on the state highway system. This benefit shall be administered and paid for, subject to appropriation, by the state board of retirement.
An Act Relative to the Retirement Benefits of Certain Widows and Surviving Spouses
Senate Bill 1289
This bill provides entitlements to the surviving spouses of members who remarried before July 1, 2000 and whose pension, upon remarriage, was terminated or otherwise reduced. These entitlements include accidental death benefits, pensions to surviving spouses of firefighters, police officers or corrections officers killed in the line-of-duty, a member survivor allowance, and an allowance to widows of disabled public employees.
An Act Relative to Women’s Health and Cancer Recovery
Senate Bill 493
This bill puts an end to “drive through mastectomies” by requiring health insurance plans to provide coverage for a minimum hospital stay in relation to inpatient hospital care for a mastectomy, lumpectomy, and lymph node dissection for the treatment of breast cancer, as determined to be medically appropriate between a physician and patient, and to require the provision of coverage for secondary consultations, reconstructive surgery, prosthetic devices, and lymphedema therapy. It also prohibits health insurance plans from either rewarding doctors who determine a short length of stay is medically appropriate or penalizing doctors who determine a long length of stay is medically appropriate for a specific patient.
An Act to Address the Lack of Sex-Specific Data in Massachusetts
Senate Bill 566
This bill ensures that studies funded by the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund are designed and carried out in a manner sufficient to provide for a valid analysis of whether the studied variables affect women, racial and ethnic minorities, and low income individuals differently than other populations in the study. The bill also requires that the Center for Health Information Analysis conduct a survey of health insurance coverage, which includes information gathered by the Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey. The results of the survey shall be publically reported with data that is stratified by sex, sex-race, and sex-race-socioeconomic status.
An Act to Address Inequities in MassHealth Readmission Penalties
Senate Bill 565
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that the state adopts a fair system for penalties to incentivize hospitals to reduce preventable Medicaid readmissions and a fairer method of measuring so-called preventable readmissions. This bill establishes a more appropriate penalty for those hospitals where the actual number of readmissions exceeds the number of expected readmissions. It also limits the application of a financial penalty to only those readmissions above the expected number calculated by MassHealth. Hospitals exceeding the expected number would face up to a 75% penalty for those readmissions that exceed the expected rate. This legislation also affords due consideration to those hospitals that have made important advances in reducing preventable readmissions by requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to limit penalties for those hospitals that have shown demonstrable progress.
An Act to Reduce the Risks Associated with Allergic Reactions
Senate Bill 1100
This bill requires the Department of Public Health to promulgate regulations to allow businesses or other entities to retain and administer doses of epinephrine to individuals whom an employee or agent reasonably believes is experiencing anaphylaxis. Those who administer the doses will not be liable for related injury that results from ordinary negligence. The regulations include reporting requirements for related incidents, annual publication of all incidents, and a mandatory training program for the persons that may administer the epinephrine doses.
Animal Care and Protection
An Act Relative to Protecting Puppies and Kittens
Senate Bill 401
This bill seeks to protect dogs, cats, and their owners by improving the state’s “Puppy Lemon Law” so that families who unknowingly purchase a sick puppy are able to either obtain a refund for the purchase price of the dog, exchange the dog and obtain reimbursement for the cost of veterinary fees, or retain the dog and obtain reimbursement for veterinary fees associated with treating the sick animal not to exceed 150 percent of the purchase price. The bill also prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks old and requires the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to promulgate rules and regulation for breeders, with an exemption for small scale hobby breeders.
An Act Ensuring the Safety of People with Pets in Disasters
Senate Bill 1172
This bill ensures that people who care for pets and service animals will be incorporated into disaster plans. Specifically, this bill requires each political subdivision of the Commonwealth who establishes a local organization for civil defense in accordance with the state civil defense plan to ensure that any emergency plan of operations shall include strategies to support the needs of people with household pets and the needs of household pets under their care, including service animals. Such local organization for civil defense shall take appropriate steps to educate the public regarding the resources available in the event of an emergency and the importance of emergency preparedness planning. This will not only protect animals, it will also increase public safety by reducing the number of residents that refuse to evacuate during an emergency due to concerns for their animals.
Tax Relief for Working Families, Homeowners, and Persons with Disabilities
An Act Strengthening Working Families by Increasing Tax Exemptions and Dependent Care Tax Credits
Senate Bill 1419
This bill provides greater tax relief for working families by increasing the income tax exemptions for dependents and the dependent and child care tax credit for middle class families.
An Act to Allow Single Family Homeowners to Deduct their Municipal Water, Sewer, and Trash Fees from their State Income Tax
Senate Bill 1417
This bill allows homeowners to deduct municipal fees for water, sewer and refuse collection incurred at their principal place of residence from their state income tax.
An Act to Create Property Tax Credits for Individuals with Disabilities
Senate Bill 1416
This bill allows disabled property taxpayers the ability to use the same property tax credit currently available to seniors, regardless of their age. Many persons with disabilities are living on a fixed income and need protection from the increasing property taxes in order to maintain their daily living expenses.