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2007-2008 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 2007-2008 legislative session.

Social Work Professional Issues

Loan Forgiveness for Social Workers HB1191 (Redrafted as HB4914)

SUMMARY: The purpose of the program is to encourage social workers to work in child protective services programs or in underserved geographic areas by providing for the repayment of qualified educational loans. To be eligible for this program, an applicant must commit to working a minimum of thirty-five hours a week for at least one year in an eligible program or area.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Representative Carl Sciortino
DPH LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM FAQSREAD HEARING TESTIMONY

An Act to Improve Access to Mental Health Services HB1873

SUMMARY: This bill would protect social workers who wish to practice in any geographic area for any period of time after termination of a partnership, employment or professional relationship with an agency where they have been employed.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Ruth Balser, Senator Steven Tolman

STATUS: Passed, signed into law August 25, 2008
READ HEARING TESTIMONY

Child Welfare and Child Mental Health

An Act to Improve Access to Children’s Medical Security Plan HB1152

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.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Steve LeDuc

STATUS: Passed, signed into law August 2008, included in Health Care Cost Containment Bill

CHAC child Mental Health Bill with MSPCC HB1872

SUMMARY: This omnibus bill will make child mental health a priority in MA. It is currently being drafted and finalized. NASW signed on to draft concept from MSPCC and Children’s Hospital.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Ruth Balser, Senator Steven Tolman

STATUS: Passed, signed into law August 2008

Criminal Justice

An Act Improving Public Safety in the Commonwealth HB1416

(CORI Reform)

SUMMARY: Comprehensive legislation that would reform Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system in Massachusetts.
READ HEARING TESTIMONY

Disability

An Act Relative to Training for Law Enforcement in Dealing with Individuals Suffering from Mental Illness SB1378

SUMMARY: Requesting formation of a study commission to explore training needs and how to fund them, what are the best ways to deliver the training to police officers.

LEAD SPONSOR: Senator Cynthia Creem
READ HEARING TESTIMONY

Elder Issues

An Act to Increase the Personal Needs Allowance HB1126

SUMMARY: Would establish annual cost of living increase for residents of nursing homes and certain other institutions that receive Medicaid.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Robert Correia, Senator Susan Tucker

STATUS: Passed in FY 08 state budget, money secured again in FY09

Elder Mental Health

SUMMARY: Two budget line items that would address mental health problems elders face that can sometimes be ignored by family and providers, like depression and anxiety.

STATUS: Pilot program included in FY09 state budget

Health

An Act Strengthening Health Reform HB1166 & SB 661

SUMMARY: Enhances access to coverage and clarifies health reform’s definition of affordability. The bill is supported by the ACT Coalition, which spearheaded Chapter 58 of the acts of 2006 – the comprehensive health care bill.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative John Scibak, Senator Mark Montigny

STATUS: Included as part of Health Care Cost Containment Bill passed 7.31.08
READ HEARING TESTIMONY

Single Payer Health Care SB703

SUMMARY: Bill would guarantee 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.

LEAD SPONSORS: Senator Steven Tolman, Representative Frank Hynes

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

An Act Relative to Reimbursement for Drugs to Treat Mental Illness HB1907

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

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Thomas Stanley

An Act Relative to Treatment versus Incarceration HB1912

SUMMARY: Allows the diversion of low-level offenders under court supervision from the Commonwealth's drug treatment program.

LEAD SPONSOR: Rep Marty Walsh

An Act to Establish Comprehensive Mental Health Parity HB1871

SUMMARY: This bill would establish comprehensive mental health parity, by eliminating the arbitrary distinctions of the 2000 MH Parity Act and requiring coverage of all disorders that are listed in the DC: 0-3R, DSM, and the International Code of Diseases (ICD), to the same extent as all other medical conditions, including substance abuse, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorders, and a host of other illnesses are subject to a 24 session limit.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Ruth Balser

STATUS: Amended version passed and signed into law 8.5.08
FACT SHEET

Economic Equity and Workplace Issues

Closing Corporate Loopholes: Tax Fairness Act

SUMMARY: Governor Patrick filed the Tax Fairness Act in early 2007, which would close approximately $500 million in corporate tax loopholes over two fiscal years. NASW strongly supports this legislation since we recognize funding for programs important to our members is reliant on revenue to the state. Additionally, closing corporate loopholes is an issue of basic fairness and levels the playing field for all businesses in Massachusetts. NASW also supports the Governor’s municipal package that would bring increased aid to cities and towns.

STATUS: Amended version passed and signed into law 6.08

Housing, Homelessness and Welfare

An Act Regarding Low Income Persons with Disabilities and Elders HB600

SUMMARY: This bill would have four key components: Give EAEDC recipients a $124/month grant increase; establish a program to provide legal representation to EAEDC recipients denied SSI benefits; require DTA to outreach to elders and disabled individuals in areas with low food stamp participation rates; require DTA to help screen elderly and disabled food stamps advocates for unclaimed medical deductions and help them with obtaining needed documentation to claim increased medical deductions for food stamps.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Ruth Balser

An Act Relative to Responsible Welfare Reform HB85

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.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Tony Cabral, Representative Steve LeDuc
READ HEARING TESTIMONY

Mass Rental Voucher Program budget line item

SUMMARY: MRVP was cut by the governor in Nov 2006 with his 9C powers but will be restored by Gov Patrick. This new budget item would expand/improve the program. Drafting not yet finalized.

STATUS: Passed in FY 08 state budget and increased again in FY09 budget.

Immigrant Issues

Education Opportunity Act (In-State Tuition) HB1197

SUMMARY: This 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.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Marie St. Fleur

Co-Sponsored Bills

An Act to Provide for Equitable Coverage in Annuity Policies HB 2729

SUMMARY: This bill has long been supported by NASW. It would prohibit discrimination in all insurance products (health, disability, annuities, and life) requiring that state regulated annuity policies sold to residents of Massachusetts must be gender-neutral in all the terms and conditions of the contracts, including premiums and benefits.

LEAD SPONSOR: Joint Committee on Financial Services

STATUS: Passed, signed into law 7.31.08

< Back to Past Legislative Agendas

National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts Chapter
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tel: (617)227-9635 fax: (617)227-9877 email: chapter@naswma.org
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