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2005-2006 Legislative Agenda

Legislative sessions in Massachusetts are every two years. Below is a list of legislation that NASW-MA and members lobbied for in the 2005-2006 legislative session.

Social Work Professional Issues

Malpractice Tribunal Bill HB 730 (Committee on the Judiciary)

SUMMARY: This bill will add Social Workers to the categories of healthcare professionals protected by the malpractice tribunal. Prioritized in 2003-2004 session where it passed the House but not the Senate.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty

STATUS: Passed, signed into law August 9, 2006

Child Welfare

An Act to Improve Access to Children’s Medical Security Plan HB 2788 (Health Care Financing)

SUMMARY: Provides primary and preventive health care services for uninsured dependent and adopted youths from birth through age eighteen. Funded, in part, by premiums contributed by enrollees. Requires premiums contributed by enrollees to be deposited in the Children’s and Seniors’ Health Care Assistance Fund.

STATUS: Bill was sent to 3rd Reading in the House, April 2006 where it remained.

An Act to Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome in Massachusetts SB140 (Children and Families)

SUMMARY: Directs the department of public health and the department of social services to coordinate with agencies serving families and children, the medical community and law enforcement, to reduce death and disability resulting from shaken baby syndrome, so-called; articulates initiative components, including, but not limited to parental education on shaken baby syndrome.

STATUS: Engrossed in the Senate June 30, 2006, died in House Ways and Means Committee.

Criminal Justice

An Act Relative to Treatment versus Incarceration H3556 (Mental Health and Substance Abuse)

SUMMARY: Allows the diversion of low-level offenders under court supervision from the Commonwealth's drug treatment program. Reported favorably by Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and referred to Joint Committee on Health Care Financing 10/27/05.

STATUS: Sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means where it died.

An Act Relative to Mandatory Minimum Sentences S929 (Judiciary)

SUMMARY: Allows drug offenders who are serving mandatory minimum sentences to be eligible for parole after serving 2/3rd of their sentence.

STATUS: Included as part of omnibus Public Safety Act of 2006 where it died in the Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules 7/10/06.


An Act Relative to Police Conduct Involving Victims, Witnesses or Suspects with Mental Illness or Mental Retardation with Basic Training Course and Enforcement Guidelines S1352 (Public Safety)

SUMMARY: Requesting formation of a study commission to look at training needs and how to fund it, what are the best ways to deliver the training.

STATUS: Engrossed in the Senate, sent to House Ways and Means July 14, 2006 where it died.

Elder Issues

An Act to Increase the Personal Needs Allowance for Residents of Long-term Care Facilities (PNA) SB 421, HB 2892 (Health Care Financing)

SUMMARY: Would establish annual cost of living increase for residents of nursing homes and certain other institutions that receive Medicaid. Reported favorably out of Joint Committee on Elder Affairs on 1/17/06 where it was referred to Joint Committee on Health Care financing and reported favorably on 5/31/06.

STATUS: Sent to Senate Committee on Ways and Means and was reported favorably from that committee in July 2006. No further action.

An Act Regarding Choice of Long Term Care Setting SB 434 (Elder Affairs)

SUMMARY: Based on VT model, this legislation will end the "institutional bias” in Medicaid and create a "long term care benefit” in the Commonwealth.

LEAD SPONSOR: Senator Susan C. Tucker

STATUS: Passed, signed into law 8/3/06


An Act to Establish Health Access and Affordability SB 738 (Health Care Financing Committee)

SUMMARY: Expands access to affordable coverage, controls growth in health care costs, and improves the quality of healthcare for everyone.

LEAD SPONSOR: Senator Richard T. Moore

STATUS: Passed on April 4, 2006. Signed, in part, by Governor Romney on 4/12/06 with amendments and vetoes. House overrides vetoes on 4/25/06, Senate on 5/4/06, 5/24/06 and 6/15/06

An Act to Establish Massachusetts Healthcare Trust SB 755 (Health Care Financing/Single Payer Health Care)

SUMMARY: Guarantees every Massachusetts resident first class health care coverage by replacing the current patchwork of public private healthcare plans with a uniform and comprehensive health plan.

STATUS: Never reported out of Health Care Financing.

Housing / Homelessness

An Act Removing Barrier to Emergency Shelter for Families with Children HB 1462 (Children and Families)

SUMMARY: Reduces eligibility barriers for families experiencing homelessness.

STATUS: Passed in FY06 Budget

An Act Requiring the Department of Transitional Assistance to Track and Report on Families Use of Emergency Shelter SB 92 (Children and Families)

SUMMARY: Requires DTA to provide basic information to the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees on a quarterly basis regarding the families who apply for emergency shelter services. Bill also requires DTA to provide a status report on the outcomes of the department’s new services.

STATUS: Passed in FY06 Budget

Immigrant Issues

In-State Tuition Bill SB 764, HB 1230

SUMMARY: The bill allows students to pay the same in-state tuition rates as their peers at public colleges and universities provided they have attended a Massachusetts high school for three years and have graduated or received the equivalent of a diploma. If the student is not a legal permanent resident, they must sign an affidavit stating that they have filed an application to become a legal permanent resident, or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

STATUS: Died in the House.

Mental Health

An Act Relative to Reimbursement for Drugs to Treat Mental Illness HB 1608 (Mental Health and Substance Abuse)

SUMMARY: Allows consumers to access appropriate medication for their mental illness.

STATUS: 5/30/06 reported favorably by Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, referred to joint committee on Rules then referred to House Committee on Rules.


Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes HB 21 (Revenue)

SUMMARY: In 1968 corporations paid 16% of all taxes in MA. By 2003 this had declined to 4%. As a result of tax reforms of the past two years, corporations now pay 7% of all taxes. This bill would create $170 million in additional revenue for the state.

STATUS: Passed in House at $105m from original $170 million. Passed Senate 7/14/05 at $120m. Back to House and passed at $85 million on 9/28/05. Ultimately passed and was signed by Governor in December 05 at $85 million.

Restore personal income tax to 5.95% HB 2346 (Revenue)

SUMMARY: Restoration of personal income tax with the personal exemptions at 2001 levels.

STATUS: Sent to study on March 29, 2006. Died.


An Act Relative to Responsible Welfare Reform SB 71 (Children and Families)

SUMMARY: Revises the state’s welfare law to avoid federal fiscal penalties and preserve subsistence benefits for vulnerable families with children. The bill also directs DTA to provide necessary services and work supports to TAFDC recipients with disabilities and other substantial barrier to employment. Family wellbeing and "fiscal responsibility” are the goals of this bill.

STATUS: Languished in conference committee for over 6 months and then reported out of House Ways and Means on one of the last days of session in July 2006. It was passed in House and Senate and Gov sent it back with amendments. Legislature did not take substantive action after this. Still unclear what entire status of the bill is. Many components have changed.

Workplace Issues

An Act to Establish a Self-Sufficiency Standard in MA HB 3664 (Labor and Workforce Development)

STATUS: Sent to study order on April 26, 2006. Died.

An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage H3782 (Labor and Workforce Development)

SUMMARY: Would raise minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.25 per hour by 2007 and index it to inflation.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative J. James Marzilli, Jr.

STATUS: Passed legislature in July 2006 and after Governor Romney’s veto, was overridden on July 31st 2006 at $8/hr by 2008.

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