I am writing to you today with legislative, Cambridge, and public health updates.
Table of Contents
- Legislative Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- Public Health Updates
- A Glimpse at the Past Week
- Mental Health Services and Resources
State of the Commonwealth (SOTC) Address
On Wednesday, I attended Governor Healey’s first State of the Commonwealth Address. I was pleased to hear the Governor talk about the prominent role that the House played in the strengths of this year’s tax relief package, including creating a Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDTC) and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the tax package that the House passed last fall. The House and Senate worked on the tax relief package for nearly two years, and I am grateful to have worked with House leadership to establish a new CDTC and increase the EITC. If you have been following my work, you know that I have been leading on these issues with steady progress. You can read more here.
The Governor laid out a vision on some really important issues that will require significant revenue investments, including investments in the biotech sector, climate technology innovation, housing, and early education. I am not sure how this aligns with the decline in projected revenue, the recent tax cuts, and the 9C cuts that were made to important programs mid-fiscal year (read more about the cuts in the last newsletter). I look forward to learning more about her vision and priorities in the Governor’s House 2 budget. The Massachusetts Legislature serves a 2-year session. In the first year, the Governor’s budget is referred to as “House 1” and in the second year it is known as “House 2.”
Budgets and budget cuts are a reflection of our priorities, and I remain disappointed that cash assistance to lift families out of deep poverty was a part of the 9C cuts. I continue to be in conversation with the Administration and advocates to try and restore the essential TAFDC (Temporary Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and EAEDC (Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children) funds, and look forward to seeing the appropriations made in the House 2 budget that will be released shortly.
Update on bills I filed
Due to the impending Joint Rule 10 deadline, State House hearings on the thousands of bills filed this session are in their final days. One of the bills I filed was heard this week.
- An Act relative to the fair housing ordinance of the city of Cambridge (H.4234) is a home rule petition that I have filed for the Cambridge City Council. The bill adds “relationship status” and “family structure” to protected classes within the Cambridge Municipal Code to protect the rights of diverse relationships and families in the municipality.
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.
Public Health Updates
Children of Color Face Widespread Health Care Disparities
Children of color in the U.S. face widespread health care disparities, as revealed by a new review of studies published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. In various pediatric specialties, children of color are less likely to receive pain management, diagnostic imaging, and timely care. Structural racism, unequal access to resources, and unconscious bias contribute to these disparities. While comprehensive policy changes are needed, immediate steps include addressing biases within healthcare practices. The study emphasizes the urgency of tangible solutions to counteract systemic healthcare inequalities.
WHO Report Finds Global Tobacco Use Has Steadily Declined
A new report on global tobacco released by the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the progress toward reducing tobacco use and presents estimates of tobacco use prevalence for 2022, the number of users, and trends projected for 2030. The report finds that the total number of tobacco users has steadily declined between 2000 and 2022, despite the world population rising by about a third in that time. In 2000, an estimated 1.36 billion people aged 15 years and older were current users of tobacco globally. Over time, that number has declined steadily, reaching 1.25 billion users in 2022, and by 2025, the number of tobacco users is projected to decline further to 1.20 billion. In the U.S., about 20% of adults reported using tobacco in 2022, falling from about 30% in 2000, which runs close to the global average. However, only 56 countries are on track to achieve at least a 30% relative reduction in tobacco use by 2025, while 94 countries may be unlikely to achieve this target by 2025 without accelerating efforts, according to the WHO.
Study Reveals High Use of Weight-Loss Products Among Adolescents
Researchers found that almost one in 10 adolescents globally have used nonprescribed weight-loss products. The study conducted a meta-analysis of 90 articles with 604,552 participants under 18, finding that 2% used such products in the past week, and 9% in their lifetime. Usage was higher among girls. The study associates these products with negative physical and psychological outcomes. More research is urged, particularly in regions like Africa, South America, and the Middle East. The researchers emphasize the need for interventions to protect youth from potentially harmful online-marketed products. Read the study here.
A Glimpse at the Past Week
I was pleased to attend the State of the Commonwealth on Wednesday alongside colleagues and a special guest, my son. He had a great conversation with MBTA General Manager Phil Eng sharing concerns about service and asking important questions regarding repairs, schedules, and a timeline in which these issues will be addressed.
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.