March 2018 Legislative Update

House of Reps

Click each heading below to learn more about the legislation that the House has enacted recently.

I was pleased that the Protecting Access to Confidential Health Care Act, also known as the PATCH Act, finally arrived on the House floor for a vote. This legislation is a huge win for confidentiality in our health care system. It would fix a crucial barrier to accessing health care by ensuring that when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the patient. The bill, which has passed both chambers, must be enacted and then will be sent to the Governor’s desk for signature. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

In the aftermath of the Equifax data breach that exposed the data of 145 million Americans, the State Legislature passed this protection to ensure heightened safety standards for consumer data. This bill would make it easier for customers to implement credit freezes and requires quicker notification of security issues from companies. Under the new legislation, consumers may request credit freezes by phone or online. Companies must then implement a freeze within one day of an electronic request or three days of a written request and thaw credit within 15 minutes of an electronic request, all free of charge. I was proud to vote in favor of this important legislation. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

This legislation directs the state to develop a comprehensive plan to address the spread of Alzheimer’s and creates an Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Council. It also directs hospital and health care providers to participate in continuing education and develop acute care plans to better manage and treat patients with dementia. Finally, the bill establishes training standards for social workers who work to protect elders from abuse. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

In November, the House passed an omnibus criminal justice bill that would make sweeping changes to the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Two major components of this bill were proposed by me: diversion to treatment, which would prioritize rehabilatation over incarceration, and the establishment of a commission to look into the current bail system in the Commonwealth.

The diversion to treatment component makes it so that an alternative route to incarceration can exist for first time offenders of any age. It requires District Attorney’s offices across the State to implement such rehabilitative programs and to ensure access to veterans, juveniles, persons with disabilities, and persons with substance abuse disorders. 

The Bail Commission would study the effectiveness of the current cash bail system and seek the feasibility of a Risk Assessment Tool for the Commonwealth. There is also a component to speak to biases that can occur in such a Risk Assessment.  Changes to our bail laws will have a great impact on our criminal justice system as all defendants are impacted by the bail rules. 

Also the bill included the elimination of certain mandatory minimum penalties (although not as many as I pushed for), data collection reforms, expungement reforms, solitary confinement reforms, larceny threshold reforms, and much much more. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

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