Final Days of the Legislative Session

The formal legislative session (190th) ended Tuesday (7/31/18) at midnight. Though we had luck with the passage of S2606, the abuse registry bill (“Nicky’s Law”) in the Senate, we were not as fortunate with the House. Given the volume of bills, the veto override actions and the short amount of time, “Nicky’s Law” (H4026) did not get out of the House Ways and Means Committee to be placed before the full House for a vote. There were a number of larger bills that demanded much time like healthcare, economic development, energy, opioids, education, and housing.

We are encouraged that there does not seem to be controversy over the registry bill. During the last few weeks, we made a huge push with members of the Senate and House Ways and Means Committee along with leadership in both chambers. Special thanks to all the members of the GA committee, along with Maura Sullivan and Leo Sarkissian who reached out to everyone.

We feel confident that The Arc will make progress during the informal sessions between now and the end of the year. There did not seem to be any resistance to the bill, and with a quick review of the Senate vote (36 yeas, 0 nays), there is hope that the House will concur. We will continue to work closely with legislative leadership as we move forward.

Operation House Call (S1222/H1954) remained in the Ways and Means Committee. The Arc will be working with the Sponsors to request the legislation be heard through informal sessions.

Housing (Accessory Apartments S2132) remained in the Senate Rules Committee. There was also an effort to insert “accessory apartment” language in a larger housing bill and that legislation did not make it to the floor for a debate and vote.

Dental Therapist Expansion (S1169/H2474) was also caught in the logjam at the end of the session and didn’t get approval from the legislature. The language for this legislation was included in the bigger healthcare bill but both bills ran out of time. The Dental Therapist bill may also have a chance through informal sessions given there is wide support for the bill.

Criminal Justice Training regarding Autism (S1313) as well as Hospital Training – Autism (S1221/H3236) also suffered the same fate as other bills that had support but the legislative session ended before any action could take place.

Higher Education Opportunities for Students with I/DD (S698/H634) had tremendous advocacy efforts and support but the bill did not get reported out of the Ways and Means Committee. The Arc will work with our partners and our sponsors to get the bill through in informal sessions.

Loan Repayment Program for Human Service Workers (S42/H116) was in good shape with the language added to the opioid legislation but at some point, the language was stripped and the bill suffered the same fate as other bills where time ran out before the legislature could take any actions. The Loan Repayment bill remained with the respective Ways and Means Committees.

The message is that we are not giving up after a session of wonderful progress moving so many of our bills through committees and garnering great support throughout the legislature. Thank you to all who spoke, testified. and wrote to your legislators in hopes to brings these bills through to fruition. There is still work to be done, so stay tuned to The Arc. If you have any specific questions about any of The Arc’s priority legislation, please contact Maura Sullivan at sullivan@arcmass.org.

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