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2011-2012 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 2011-2012 legislative session.

Social Work Professional Practice

Loan Forgiveness for Social Workers: An Act Establishing an Education Loan Repayment Program for Social Workers in Areas of Need (H3804)

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. David Torrisi, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge

STATUS: Hearing held on May 12, 2011. Redrafted and reported favorably from the Joint Committee on Higher Education and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on November 14, 2011.

Social Worker Safety in the Workplace (H4254)

SUMMARY: This legislation would require employers of social workers to create safety plans for their workplaces and perform annual risk assessments relative to factors which may put social workers at risk of workplace assault. The bill would focus on prevention of assault in the workplace and in the field.

LEAD CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Sean Garballey and Sen. Sal DiDomenico

STATUS: Ordered to a third reading on 7/30/2012. Loan Repayment for Behavioral Health Providers included in Health Care Payment Reform Legislation.

Child Welfare and Child Mental Health

Collateral Services: An Act Relative to the Coordination of Children’s Mental Health Services (H1417, S990)

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 CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Ruth Balser, and Sen. Steven Tolman

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 6/29/12.

Criminal Justice

An Act Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in MA to 18 (H450, S64)

SUMMARY: In Massachusetts, all 17-year-olds accused of a crime are automatically treated as adults, regardless of circumstances or severity of the offense, making MA out of step with national and international standards. Only 12 other states set their age of criminal jurisdiction below 18. This bill would put MA in line with the majority of other states in the nation.

LEAD CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Kay Khan, and Sen. Karen Spilka

STATUS: Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means on 7/27/12.

Discrimination and Equity Issues

An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights (H502, S764)

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 CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Carl Sciortino, Rep. Byron Rushing, Sen. Ben Downing, and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz

STATUS: Signed into law by the Governor on November 28, 2011.

Economic Equity and Workplace Issues

An Act Investing in Our Communities (H2553, S1416)

SUMMARY: This legislation would raise $1.2B in new revenue keeping tax increases down on low and middle class families and raising most of the revenue from those who can afford it.

LEAD CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Jim O’Day, and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 3/21/12.

An Act Establishing Paid Sick Days (H1398, S930)

SUMMARY: Entitles all employees within the Commonwealth to a minimum of seven paid sick days per year; articulates appropriate usage of said sick days; directs the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to establish a multilingual outreach program to educate the public about the availability of said sick days.

LEAD CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Kay Khan, and Sen. Pat Jehlen

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 6/29/12.

Elder Issues

An Act Increasing the Personal Care Allowance for Residents of Long Term Care Facilities (H187)

SUMMARY: Would establish annual cost of living increase for residents of nursing homes and certain other institutions that receive Medicaid. Increases the Personal Needs Allowance to $72.80 from $60/month.

LEAD CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Alice Wolf, and Sen. Pat Jehlen

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 6/29/12.


An Act Establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts (S501)

SUMMARY: 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 SPONSOR: Sen. Jamie Eldridge

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 6/29/12.

An Act to Encourage Preventative Care (S511)

SUMMARY: This bill would eliminate co-pays for preventative care for those who receive CommCare, similar to private plans.

LEAD SPONSOR: Sen. Pat Jehlen

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 6/29/12.

An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Controlling Costs by Reforming Health Systems and Payments(HB1849)

STATUS: Signed into law by Governor on July 31, 2012.

Housing and 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.

STATUS: Increased funding in the FY13 budget.

An Act Removing Barriers to Financial Stability & Asset Development for Low-to-Moderate Income Families (S1839)

SUMMARY: This legislation will remove state-imposed barriers to asset development by increasing the TAFDC asset limit, allow TAFDC and EAEDC recipients to own reliable cars, increase the TAFDC work expense deduction to $250 from the $90 level where it has been since 1988 and allowing TAFDC recipients to use vocational education to meet their work requirements throughout their period of time-limited assistance, in addition to other provisions.

LEAD SPONSOR: Sen. Jamie Eldridge

STATUS: Referred to Senate Committee on Ways and Means on 8/11/11.

Immigrant Issues

Education Parity Act (In-State Tuition) (H2109)

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 CO-SPONSORS: Rep. Alice Wolf, Rep. Denise Provost, and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 3/21/12.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

An Act to Amend the Commonwealth’s Drug Treatment Program to Allow for the Diversion of Low-Level Offenders Under Court Supervision (H1435)

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

LEAD SPONSOR: Rep. Marty Walsh

STATUS: Accompanied a study order on 6/29/12.


Casinos or Slots in Massachusetts

SUMMARY: NASW MA Chapter is in opposition to expanded gambling in Massachusetts. In 2007, the NASW board voted to oppose casinos. In 2009, the NASW board additionally voted to oppose slots in MA.

LEAD SPONSOR: Sen. Flanagan

STATUS: Conference committee convened on October 20, 2011. Signed into law by Governor in November 2011.

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