I am writing to you today with legislative, public health, and Cambridge updates.
I also invite you to join me and my staff at my annual Diaper Drive on Saturday, December 9th at Raymond Park, where we will be collecting donations and distributing them to the Cambridge Community Center and Transition House. At the event, I'll provide warm drinks, have a cookie decorating station, and use this time with my legislative staff to provide office hours. Please feel free to stop by to connect, donate diapers, or decorate a cookie.
Table of Contents
- Legislative Updates
- Public Health Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- A Glimpse at the Past Week
- Mental Health Services and Resources
FY23 closeout supplemental budget update
I am proud of the House’s efforts, led by Speaker Ron Mariano and Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz, in conference committee negotiations with the Senate to finalize a FY23 closeout supplemental budget that strongly reflects House priorities. Thanks to the Speaker’s strong stance on upholding the right to shelter and ensuring that no one spends a night in a place not meant for human habitation, the Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter funding includes House-led stipulations that the Administration must stand up an overflow site for folks on the waitlist for an EA shelter.
Yesterday and today I joined my colleagues in the House in an informal session, ready to pass the supplemental budget. However, Republicans continue to hold up passage of the bill, which also includes funds for the negotiated raises for public employees. We will be in session tomorrow and, if Republicans continue to block a vote, we will be back in session on Monday. As we enter the holiday season and winter weather is upon us, it’s hard to understand these tactics.
Updates on bills I filed this session
Seven common sense gun safety bills that I filed this session were heard by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security this week. As I have noted in previous newsletters, I am grateful to serve with Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, and Judiciary Committee Chair Michael Day, who are all dedicated to improving gun safety and continuing Massachusetts’ leadership on the issue. I also appreciated the opportunity to support Chair Day as he wrote and shepherded the omnibus gun package through the House, and to have worked with him to have three of the bills listed below — An Act relative to firearms in certain public buildings, An Act relative to crime gun data reporting and analysis, and An Act relative to ghost guns — largely reflected in the omnibus.
- An Act relative to firearms in certain public buildings (H.2305) would prohibit possession of any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in the statehouse and the surrounding grounds. It also prohibits possession of any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in or near a building designated a polling place or a place where ballots are to be counted and prohibits individuals from knowingly possessing any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded at a demonstration on public grounds. The only exceptions would be for on-duty law enforcement officers.
- An Act requiring licensed gun owners to submit a yearly affidavit (H.2306) would require cardholders and those in possession of a license to submit a yearly affidavit to the license authority. The affidavit will serve the purpose of informing the license authority that the holder has not lost a firearm or had a firearm stolen.
- An Act relative to crime gun data reporting and analysis (H.2307) would require the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to develop a biennial report analyzing the firearms trace data collected and non-identifying gun sales transaction data held by the firearms records bureau and supply this data to a university or non-profit researcher for analysis to help determine their source.
- An Act making firearm owners civilly liable for damage caused by lost or stolen firearms (H.2308) would impose a civil liability for those who do not report the loss or theft of a firearm, rifle, shotgun, or machine gun if it is later used in a crime. Individuals can be held civilly liable for any damages resulting from the crime.
- An Act relative to the reckless discharge of firearms (H.2309) would require a state prison sentence of up to 5 years or a house of correction sentence of up to 2.5 years for anyone convicted of putting others in danger by firing a weapon when a reasonable person would know that doing so was unsafe.
- An Act authorizing the voluntary disavowal of eligibility to purchase a firearm (H.2311) would require the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to establish a list of people who voluntarily disavow eligibility to purchase a firearm, distribute the list to acute care hospitals and emergency facilities, and adopt regulations for its maintenance and distribution.
- An Act relative to ghost guns (H.2312) would address the loophole that allows gun pieces to be legally purchased or made to create a fully functioning firearm that lacks a serial number.
Public Health Updates
88,000 People Disenrolled from MassHealth in October
MassHealth, the Medicaid program in Massachusetts, experienced its largest monthly decline, with 88,000 people losing coverage in October as part of a year-long effort to reassess eligibility for its 2.4 million members. The majority lost coverage for procedural reasons, with 46% confirmed as ineligible, and 52% lacking sufficient information for assessment. The combined Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program rolls have decreased by nearly 5% since April. MassHealth officials predict that disenrollments will triple in the last five months of the federally required Medicaid redetermination program that was initiated after the continuous Medicaid enrollment protection during the COVID-19 public health emergency concluded this March. The Massachusetts Health Connector - the state’s affordable insurance marketplace - has seen increased interest, with 38,000 new enrollees since April, suggesting that many people who failed to meet MassHealth eligibility requirements have gained coverage again.
Launch of Medication Abortion Toolkit for Massachusetts Public Colleges and Universities
Last week, the Healey-Driscoll Administration, in collaboration with the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation, announced the launch of the Medication Abortion Toolkit for Public Colleges and Universities, a guide designed to assist Massachusetts' public institutions in developing readiness plans to provide or make referrals for medication abortion on college campuses in accordance with Massachusetts law. The toolkit aims to maximize students' access to sexual and reproductive health services. It includes initial planning steps for university administrators to manage with planning committee members and campus community stakeholders, a guide to establishing referral relationships with nearby or telehealth abortion providers for care that may be available on campus, and support tools for clinicians and health center teams to be able to order, prescribe, and implement medication abortion protocols.
New Study Finds Overdose Death Increase in Pregnant and Postpartum People
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently published a study aiming to better understand trends and sociodemographic characteristics in pregnancy-associated overdose mortality. This research revealed an overall increase in overdose deaths among pregnant and postpartum individuals ages 10-44 from 2018 to 2021. For pregnant or postpartum birthing people aged 35-44, the overdose mortality ratio tripled in the same three-year period. These data align with the rising overdose mortality rates of women across the nation, suggesting that pregnancy and postpartum overdose mortality is reflective of the overall U.S. overdose crisis. Furthermore, researchers found that upwards of 73% of pregnant and 74% of postpartum deaths occurred while most individuals were alone, outside of healthcare settings, many at home or another drug-consumption location. These findings highlight the importance of implementing evidence-based, harm-reduction strategies to curb the wave of overdose death among pregnant and postpartum people.
Community Meeting on Central Square Shooting
A community meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 6 in the Cambridge Senior Center at 806 Massachusetts Avenue to discuss an early Thanksgiving morning shooting in the area of 10 Magazine Street in Central Square. Food and light refreshments will be available starting at 6 p.m. and the meeting will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. To register and join the meeting virtually, community members can visit camb.ma/communitymeeting2023.
Cambridge Public Health Helpline Supports Residents with COVID-19
To speak with someone, call the confidential COVID-19 Hotline at 617-933-0797. Learn more here.
City Offering Free At-Home COVID Tests in Partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance
The tests can be picked up Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM in the CHA lobby at 119 Windsor Street. Cambridge businesses or organizations that would like free rapid tests to provide to customers can call the COVID-19 hotline at 617-933-0797 to request them. The at-home COVID test expiration date can be checked here.
A Glimpse at the Past Week
It was great to join Harvard University in its appreciation for organized labor. When workers are empowered to negotiate their value, everyone wins.
Mental Health Services and Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know you are not alone. There are some great resources here: https://www.decker4rep.com/2021/mental-health-services-and-resources/
Intimate Partner Abuse Prevention Helpline
This initiative is designed to prevent intimate partner violence by fostering accountability and change in people who harm or may harm their partner. You can find more information at 10to10helpline.org or by calling 877-898-3411.
Overdose Prevention Helpline
The Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Helpline is a virtual spotting/overdose detection service for people who use drugs. Learn more at: https://www.massoverdosehelpline.org, or access it by calling 800-972-0590.
As always, please contact me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.