Last week State Representative Jon Santiago (D-Boston) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass its Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $42.7 billion, the House budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, healthcare, and other areas. Districts investments include $50,000 for Community Music Center of Boston, $25,000 for the South End Library Park, $25,0000 for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, and $12,000 for the Fenway Muddy River Cleanup project.
Representative Santiago filed district specific budget amendments, successfully securing $112,000 in local aid, capital improvements, needle clean up programs, and environmental clean up funds. Representative Santiago also voted in favor of passing the budget (154-1).
The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development held a hearing on several matters related to labor practices.
Representative Santiago, alongside co-petitioner Senator Harriette Chandler, testified before the committee, speaking about his experience with physician assistants in the emergency room.
With bipartisan support, the House passed legislation to provide $8 million to women’s reproductive health organizations in Massachusetts. This measure was taken in order to offset the federal funding cuts to Title X.
Representative Santiago voted in favor of the $8 million allocations for family planning clinics currently in jeopardy of losing federal funding (139-14).
The Joint Committee on Transportation held a hearing on Distracted Driving, Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety, Road Safety, Mobility Devices, and gender identification. Rep. Santiago testified on behalf of H3179, an act requiring hands-free phone usage while driving, and H3118/H3092, an act to reduce traffic fatalities. While a number of issues were discussed–constituent safety was the paramount concern.
Representative Santiago testified before the committee, speaking on his experience as an emergency room doctor to support crucial pedestrian safety legislation.
Many constituents and the Massachusetts Black and Latino Caucus feel the 1993 education funding formula is outdated and is leading to an inequality in the education quality between Massachusetts schools. Two groups of students specifically affected by this formula are ELL (English Language Learner) and Low-Income students. Constituents came in to speak on behalf of the PROMISE Act (#H586, #S238), saying that it will help to create a more equitable society and bridge the gap.
Representative Santiago stood in solidarity with the Massachusetts Black and Latino caucus in strong support of equitable education funding.
Effective as of March 1st, the Department of Correction approved a raise from 5 to 8 pre-approved visitors for maximum security inmates, and approved their ability to update their visitor list every 120 days. This change to the visitor policy comes after much conversation between the MBLLC and the Department of Correction Commissioner, Carol Mici, and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco III.
As a member of the Massachusetts Black and Latino caucus, Representative Santiago he aided in the discussion with the Department of Correction to implement this change in visitation policies.
The House voted to lift the family cap, which limited access to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (denied additional welfare benefits for children born into families already receiving welfare). Lifting the gap will provide additional benefits to 8,700 families in Massachusetts. The change will be retroactively implemented to January 1 of this year.
Representative Santiago voted in favor lifting the cap (143-1).
The House approved legislation to ban “gay conversion therapy”. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the ban, stating that medical and mental health associations do not condone these measures. The ban does not include counseling services designed to facilitate individual coping support.
Representative Santiago voted in favor of banning conversion therapy (147-8).