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2009-2010 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 2009-2010 legislative session.

Social Work Professional Issues

An Act Encouraging Licensed Social Workers and Human Service Providers to Work in Child Welfare and Human Service Programs HB 3568

(Loan Forgiveness for Social Workers)

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 CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, Rep. Carl Sciortino, Senator Marian Walsh

STATUS: Hearing held June 24, 2009 at State House

An Act Improving Emergency Access to Mental Health Services HB 4681

SUMMARY: This legislation improves acute mental health services by including LICSWs to the list of physicians, psychologists, psychiatric nurses and police officers who may authorize emergency restraint of dangerous persons for the purpose of emergency examination if a person is in danger of harming themselves or someone else.

LEAD CO-SPONSORS: Representative David Sullivan, Senator Jamie Eldridge

STATUS: Passed, signed into law August 9, 2010

An Act to Modernize the Board of Registration of Social Workers HB 174

SUMMARY: This legislation changes the composition of the social work licensing board to increase its effectiveness. The legislation adds two additional members, increases to 3 the number of LICSWs on the board, and removes certain designations within the board.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Rodrigues, Senator Morrissey

STATUS: Passed, signed into law November 2009

Child Welfare and Child Mental Health

Child Mental Health Coalition Bill: An Act Relative to the Coordination of Children’s Mental Health Services HB 3586 or SB 2156

SUMMARY: New legislation filed would ensure collateral services are included in the law passed in 2007-2008 session that expands child mental health. Social Workers benefit from payment for collateral services since they are often the providers of such services.

LEAD SPONSORS: Senator Steven Tolman, Representative Ruth Balser

STATUS: Hearing held May 27, 2009 at State House

Criminal Justice

An Act to Reform CORI, Restore Economic Opportunity & Improve Public Safety HB 3523

SUMMARY: Comprehensive legislation reforming the sentencing system and Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system in MA.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Liz Malia, Senator Harriett Chandler

STATUS: Passed, signed into law August 6, 2010

Disability and Elder Issues

An Act Increasing the Personal Care Allowance for Residents of Long Term Care Facilities HB 545

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

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Kathi-Ann Reinstein


Health Care for All: An Act Strengthening Health Care Reform SB 873

SUMMARY: An omnibus bill that would work to strengthen current health care reform by improving benefits and access to care, prohibit lifetime caps in all Massachusetts health insurance plans and promote continued outreach to educate residents on health and well being.

LEAD SPONSORS: Senator Richard Moore, Representative Stephen Kulik

STATUS: Hearing held October 20, 2009 at State House

Act Relative to the Massachusetts Health Care Trust HB 2127

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 Patricia Jehlen, Representative Matt Patrick

STATUS: Hearing held October 20, 2009 at State House

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

An Act Relative to Treatment versus Incarceration HB 1962

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

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Martin Walsh

STATUS: Hearing held June 10, 2009 at State House

Economic Equity and Workplace Issues

Revenue Measures with Working Family Agenda Coalition

SUMMARY: NASW co-chaired the statewide coalition in 2009 that worked together to successfully advocate for more than $1 billion in new revenue, which significantly helped to offset the state budget deficit. This new money supports services and programs critical to the Commonwealth.

STATUS: Passed, signed into law 2009

An Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes HB 1728

SUMMARY: This bill will add Massachusetts to 9 other states, Washington D.C., and 81 counties and cities that protect transgender people by making the protection of transgender people explicit, uniform, and visible to the general public.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Carl Sciortino, Representative Byron Rushing, Senator Ben Downing

STATUS: Hearing held July 14, 2009 at State House

Housing / Homelessness

Mass Rental Voucher Program (budget line item 7004-9024)

SUMMARY: MRVP is a budget item that helps low income working families, the disabled, seniors and others experiencing housing uncertainties to avoid entering shelter and to quickly move homeless households into stable housing. The FY2010 funding request is between forty and fifty million.

STATUS: Program was funded at $33,047,202 in FY 09.

Emergency Aid to Elderly Disabled and Children (EAEDC) HB 171

SUMMARY: This bill would give EAEDC recipients a $124/month grant increase; establish a program to provide legal representation to EAEDC recipients denied SSI benefits and provide other key reforms benefiting low income people.

LEAD SPONSOR: Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein

STATUS: Hearing held September 15, 2009 at State House

Immigrant Issues

Education Parity Act (In-State Tuition) HB 1175 and SB 603

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.

LEAD SPONSORS: Representative Marie St. Fleur, Senator Anthony Galluccio

Priority Bill NASW Opposes

Casinos or Slots in Massachusetts

SUMMARY: NASW-MA is in opposition to casinos in Massachusetts including the introduction of slot machines. (In 2007, the NASW board voted to oppose casinos. In 2009 the NASW board voted to also oppose slots in MA.) NASW is proud to have worked with our coalition partners to let legislators know how harmful and damaging slot machines are to individuals, families, and communities. We are also concerned about government seeking to capitalize on people’s losses to support the state budget.

STATUS: Legislation was headed for passage in the legislature but stalled because the Governor Patrick opposed the slots provision

Bills NASW Co-Sponsors / Supports

Psychotherapy Consumer Protection Bill

SUMMARY: This bill protects the term "psychotherapist” and requires that anyone holding themselves out as a psychotherapist be a licensed mental health provider. The bill has been controversial with the psychoanalyst group.

An Act Relative to Continuity of Care

SUMMARY: Proposed legislation would provide for continuity of care for individuals with mental illness who are in a continuing course of treatment, amending MGL Section 15 Ch 176O to require that a carrier continue coverage of treatment through an out-of-network option for any insured who is engaged in a continuing course of treatment with a licensed mental health provider who was eligible for payment under the plan.

Paid Sick Days

SUMMARY: This legislation would create more productive, healthy and equitable workplaces while promoting the health and welfare of families by directing that all employers in the Commonwealth provide a minimum of 7 paid sick days per year per employee.

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