Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
Massachusetts Second Suffolk District
Chang-Díaz Sets Early Legislative Agenda
Chang-Díaz Sets Early Legislative Agenda

BOSTON – Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Jamaica Plain) has established her legislative agenda for her first term as the Senator representing the Second Suffolk District. This week Chang-Díaz filed ten pieces of legislation and has co-sponsored six additional pieces of legislation with House and Senate colleagues. Over the course of the next six to eight weeks, legislation will be assigned to legislative committees and hearings will legislative hearings will begin in the spring.

“These legislative priorities reflect many of the issues I campaigned on and the concerns I heard about most from voters at their doors, particularly foreclosure and CORI reform” said Chang-Díaz. “I’m looking forward to getting right to work on these bills, and continuing the dialogue with 2nd Suffolk residents about the issues affecting our neighborhoods.”

Senator Chang-Díaz will continue to sponsor and co-sponsor more legislation in the coming weeks and throughout her first term, as well as fight for district priorities through the state budget process. However, the following are brief summaries of the legislation Senator Chang-Díaz has sponsored to kick off her first term:

* An Act to Require Judicial Foreclosure amends Massachusetts’ foreclosure law so that Massachusetts will join 29 other states in requiring court approval of foreclosures;

* An Act to Protect Tenants from Eviction in Foreclosed Properties enables tenants to pay rent and stay in their homes when a lender takes back a property through foreclosure;

* An Act Protecting Homeowners Facing Foreclosure establishes a set of procedural protections for homeowners facing foreclosure;

* An Act Relative to the Illegal Trafficking of Guns and Gun Violence Among Youth in the Commonwealth looks to significantly restrict the flow of guns to the illegal market, give law enforcement agencies tools to better enforce current gun laws, and establish an interstate compact to promote uniform procedures to combat illegal gun trafficking between states;

* An Act Relative to Environmental Justice seeks to enhance the health, safety and quality of life of residents and workers in urban communities who are disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards such as excessive air pollution, water pollution, hazardous waste and noise;

* An Act Promoting Healthy Communities and the Environment will create a community health index for all communities, which will assist in identifying communities who suffer disproportionate rates of disease, asthma, premature death. The legislation also establishes a Community Environmental Health Disparities Program, which will require certain proposed projects to complete a health impact assessment to help protect the health of community residents;

* An Act Improving the Fairness of Tax Laws aims to close additional corporate tax loopholes, level the playing field between small locally-owned businesses and large corporations, and prevent the unintentional loss of $60 million in state revenues. In challenging fiscal times, identifying inefficiencies across all sectors of our state is increasingly important;

* An Act Relative to the Preparation of Certain Ballots in the City of Boston will ensure equal voting rights and ballot access for elderly Chinese- and Vietnamese-speaking U.S. citizens in Boston. It provides for the preparation of fully bilingual ballots in all federal, state and City of Boston preliminary or final elections;

* An Act to Improve the Collection and Analysis of Data Relative to Traffic Stops aims to identify and eliminate race and gender bias on the part of police conducting traffic stops, through the collection, review and monitoring of traffic stop data;

* An Act to Assure Equitable Health Coverage for All Children will ensure that an equal standard of coverage is provided to all low-income children receiving care through one of the Commonwealth’s health care programs. This bill addresses the inequity that currently exists between children served by the Children’s Medical Security Plan and those served by MassHealth or Family Assistance.

The following represent some key legislation that Senator Chang-Díaz has co-sponsored with other members of the Legislature:

* An Act to Reform CORI, Restore Economic Opportunity and Improve Public Safety will assist thousands of people in getting jobs and housing because of old or irrelevant criminal records; help reduce recidivism and end the cycle of crime, homelessness and unemployment. (Lead Senate Sponsor: Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester);

* An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes will include gender identity and expression in the state’s non-discrimination statutes and will amend existing hate crime laws to explicitly protect people targeted for violence and harassment. (Lead Senate Sponsor: Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield);

* An Act Relative to Equal Access to Higher Education and Generating Revenue for the Commonwealth, which will allow any student admitted to a state or community college who has graduated from a Massachusetts high school and had attended high school in the Commonwealth for at least three years to be eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees at state and community colleges. To qualify, the student must present the University of Massachusetts, or the state or community college with a document reflecting issuance of an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) and a signed affidavit stating that the individual will apply for citizenship or legal permanent residence in accordance with federal law (Lead Senate Sponsor: Sen. Anthony Galluccio, D-Cambridge);

* An Act to Establish a Groundwater Protection Tax Credit for Homeowners will allow any owner of a residential property located across the Commonwealth to obtain a tax credit worth forty percent of private expenditures for the repair of a private sewer lateral, installation of groundwater recharge systems or the inspection or repair of wood pilings used to support personal property. (Lead Senate Sponsor: Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, D-Boston);

* An Act to Increase the Minimum Wage which will increase the minimum wage to $8.46 in 2010 and index it to inflation therein after (Lead Senate Sponsor: Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton); and

* An Act to Preserve and Protect the Integrity of the State Pension System, which seeks to increase the public trust in the states pension system by reforming pension rules and enhancing the fairness and viability of the system (Lead House Sponsors: Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, D-Boston, and Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Lexington).

The Legislature has filed roughly 6,000 pieces of legislation in the first week of the new legislative session. All legislation will be given a bill number over the course of the next six to eight week. The legislation will be assigned to a legislative committee and will have a public hearing sometime in the coming year. Residents are encouraged to use the Legislature’s web page to search, track and participate in the legislative process. The General Court’s webpage is www.mass.gov/legis

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