Our district has the most beautiful natural environment in Massachusetts from our woodlands to our waterways, and we should be working to preserve it. At a state level, the effort to address environmental issues is severely underfunded. We only allocate 0.5% of the state’s operating budget to environmental agencies. As a starting point, I advocate for doubling the percentage of funding as well as accelerating our transition from reliance on fossil fuels to 100% clean renewable energy with measures like incentivizing solar development. With your support, I will push for legislation that fights climate change and protects our natural resources. We recently passed the Public Lands Preservation Act, which prevents the loss of constitutionally protected lands, as well as the Climate Roadmap, which lays out Massachusetts climate policy for the future.
As a product of public schools, I know first-hand how crucial a well-funded school district is to the health and vitality of our communities. I am committed to advocating for the necessary school funding to give each and every student the opportunity to succeed. I support increasing local reimbursements for special education and regional school transportation funding, and expanding efforts to better assist English learners and economically disadvantaged students. Additionally, I sponsored An Act promoting racially and culturally inclusive K-12 curriculum to give our students a more comprehensive education. As your legislator, I continue to work with other lawmakers to push for increased local aid to our public schools, which would help alleviate local property taxes.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country. Overall, there has been a steady rise in hate-motivated crime against people of any race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity. At this point in our country’s history, racism and xenophobia are incredibly prevalent, and we must look critically at our laws to make sure we are protecting marginalized and vulnerable communities. I filed a bill reforming the current hate crimes statutes and adding gender and immigration status to the list of protected classes. We must be able to call out hate and racism when we see it in order to increase accountability and ensure that communities receive the justice that they deserve.
EQUALITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Our community values responsible gun ownership and that is why I support measures to prevent gun violence. I have represented many survivors of domestic violence and understand the strong connection it has with gun violence. Guns should not be in the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others. Moreover, we need to stop selling weapons of war and high-capacity magazines, which were not designed for our homes and workplaces, but for a battlefield. I also want to improve access to mental health care to minimize these dangers and risks to public safety.
Our seniors have built their lives in this community, raised families and worked hard to make our towns more prosperous and vibrant. In turn, it benefits all of us to help them to remain in our community. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when our seniors were at their most vulnerable, I advocated for the regional distribution of vaccines to seniors through their local COAs or community health organizations. As a legislator, I work with my colleagues to increase local aid to support programs for our aging population like Meals on Wheels and funding for the Council on Aging; together we secured additional funding for the Andover and Boxford Senior Centers in the most recent budget. I have also filed An Act relative to providing better notices and protections in process for collecting delinquent property taxes, a bill which would help seniors keep current on their property taxes so that they can keep their homes.
I am proud that Massachusetts has led the country on equality, but I also recognize there is more to do before equality is truly achieved. I support full equality—regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, ability, or national origin—and recognize that discrimination in all its forms is a pervasive problem in our society. I will continue to fight against discrimination to ensure equal opportunity, and I am committed to advancing protections to ensure that all people are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. I believe in dismantling institutional and systemic inequities with bold measures to promote justice in the workplace, in healthcare, in education, under the law, and in every aspect of life. I support the Healthy Youth Act, which advocates for science-based, inclusive sex education in public schools. I appreciate diversity, and I am committed to building a stronger and more inclusive community.
I am a woman, an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, and a defender of reproductive rights. Women should not have to argue for autonomy over our bodies. Every woman should be able to make personal decisions about the full range of reproductive health care options. In 2020, I supported the ROE Act, which removed unnecessary barriers to reproductive healthcare. I plan to continue to work toward a brighter, safer, and more equal Massachusetts for all women.
Our veterans have earned our respect and admiration. During the pandemic, the loss of so many veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers Home was a terrible tragedy; I have joined my colleagues to advocate for reforms and to fund improvements to the Soldiers’ Home. I will continue to fight for veterans’ benefits, and I am committed to supporting them with the help they need and deserve, including health care and mental health services, education, and housing assistance.
I am committed to making health care more affordable and accessible to all, because I believe essential health care is a human right. As your representative, I advocate for a health insurance system that guarantees access and lowers the cost of health care. I support controlling the rising costs of medication, expanding the definition of affordability to include other out-of-pocket costs such as copays and deductibles, and allowing for a public option for individuals and small businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each of us individually, our communities, and our Commonwealth. Throughout the pandemic, my office sent out COVID-19 newsletters to keep my constituents updated on news and resources available to them. In addition, I have sponsored multiple bills to protect frontline healthcare workers, increase unemployment insurance benefits for low wage workers, and provide emergency tax relief to workers who collected unemployment during the pandemic. I am determined to build back from the damage of COVID-19, and I will continue work to restore our vibrant community.
I am an animal lover and a proud dog mom, so protecting animals is very important to me. I co-sponsored An Act to protect animals from convicted abusers to make sure that convicted abusers are not allowed to be in possession of an animal or engage in an occupation or volunteer position where they would be working with animals. This bill would prohibit convicted animal abusers from owning or having contact with animals for a reasonable period of time with 5 years minimum for first-time offenders, and 15 years minimum for subsequent offenses. I have also added a provision in another bill to protect pets from those convicted of sexual assault.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence rates have increased drastically, and incidents of domestic violence have often become more severe. Whether physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, or any other form, domestic violence is unacceptable. I have co-sponsored multiple bills aiming to aid victims of domestic violence by expanding the definitions of abuse, improving protections for sexual assault survivors, expanding confidentiality protections, and increasing options for survivors who have been criminalized for actions as a result of their victimization. Recently, the House passed my bill, An Act promoting safety for victims of violent crime and human trafficking. I am committed to continuing to help & protect survivors.
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
Opioid addiction is a public health crisis. We should not simply brush it aside with arrests and incarceration. Instead, my efforts focus on prevention and treatment. I support programs that educate youth about addiction and identify and support students at risk, as well as ones that educate doctors about safer prescription management. We can also save more lives by increasing the availability of the overdose reversal agent Naloxone (Narcan) to first responders and caregivers and supporting long-term treatments, including housing for recovering addicts and treatment beds for those suffering from addiction. Prevention and long-term treatment are how we rescue our community from this deadly affliction.
I grew up in a working class family and have seen first-hand the challenges that they face. Working families deserve programs that train them for good-paying jobs, fair compensation for hard work, job security, and protection from wage theft and exploitation. The COVID-19 pandemic hit working families hard. To remedy this, I have worked with colleagues to pass three bills helping low-wage workers with unemployment, and I have sponsored or co-sponsored many other bills designed to protect working families. Additionally, I believe we should invest in quality childcare and early education, which will open up more opportunities for parents to provide for their families and advance their children’s future. I will continue to take the lead on these issues and advocate for working families.
Investing in public transportation and infrastructure is essential to building back a better Commonwealth. In the Merrimack Valley, it is important to make commuting options reliable, safe, and affordable. This session I filed An Act relative to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority service interruptions, an emergency law which would use any increase in revenue collections to prevent the elimination of transit services or closure of commuter rail stations, and to ensure the continued progress of capital projects. I have been working with my colleagues to increase safety and expand capacity on the commuter rail by advocating for a double-track system. I am committed to advancing solutions that will help the people of my district and the entire state.