State Legislature Bills Advance

Commonwealth Peace and Justice Agenda

by Cole Harrison

Four bills supported by MAPA are moving forward in the state legislature.

The bill to establish a Special Commission Relative to the Existential Threat Posed by Nuclear Weapons to Massachusetts. (H.3688S.1555) reflects growing concern about nuclear war in the context of the Russia/Ukraine war and nuclear weapons buildups by the great powers.  It was introduced by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa and Sen. Jo Comerford.

In April, a poll revealed that 63% of Massachusetts adults – including 80% of those who identify as Democrats – support the establishment of a Citizens’ Commission to investigate and report on what measures may be necessary and appropriate to protect Massachusetts citizens from nuclear weapons.

The Taxpayers’ Right to Know bill (S.2828 / H.4718 ) instructs the State Treasurer to prepare a yearly, easy to understand report to Massachusetts taxpayers on how the U.S. Congress and State Legislature spent their tax dollars in the prior budget year.  The sponsors are Rep. Carol Doherty and Sen. Jo Comerford.

We believe that if citizens knew how their tax dollars were being spent – for example that more than half goes to Pentagon accounts – their views on budget priorities would change. The information would be provided in a simple and easy to understand format such as a piechart.

The nuclear weapons commission and taxpayers’ right to know bills were favorably reported by their original committees and are both now in the House and Senate Ways and Means committees.  Please use our easy tool to contact the leaders of those committees and of the legislature, and your own Representative and Senator, calling on them to declare their support.

A measure to establish a five-year moratorium on building new prisons in Massachusetts passed the House, in the form of a provision within the government operations bond bill, and awaits action in the Senate.  The Baker administration has sought to build a new women’s prison in Norwood to replace the aging Framingham facility, but advocates led by Families for Justice as Healing call for community-based decarceration instead.   MAPA joined a Springfield to Boston walk in September to raise awareness of the issue.

The Work and Family Mobility Act, which would give Massachusetts drivers’ licenses to residents without legal immigration status, passed both houses of the legislature.  It was vetoed by Governor Baker but the margin of passage was sufficient to allow the legislature to override the veto, so it should become law in June.  MAPA testified and joined rallies in favor of the bill.