In addition to the break in the rain today, there’s also good news to report from the State House! Today and on last Friday, we passed major milestones for two issues on my legislative agenda: foreclosure reform and bilingual ballots.
These are two issues I’ve been working on for the last several months, and ones that will have a critical impact on Boston neighborhoods if passed. As of today, both bills have been reported favorably out of committee, with “Ought to Pass” recommendations!
Please read on below for more information on each…
This afternoon, Senate Bill 1379, An Act to Stabilize Neighborhoods relative to residential foreclosures, was given a favorable “Ought to Pass” recommendation by the Joint Committee on Housing. This legislation incorporates a key legislative priority of mine, which is to protect tenants from being unjustly evicted from their building when that building is foreclosed.
Currently, tenants who are in perfectly good standing with payment of their rent, but who happen to live in a building that’s getting foreclosed upon, are often thrown out of their homes. This is a problem that particularly affects urban neighborhoods like ours, where there are many multi-family buildings. S.1379 prohibits the lending institution that forecloses on a house from evicting a tenant unless that tenant has otherwise violated their lease.
This is a bill that will help keep thousands of hard-working people in their homes—both here in Boston and across Massachusetts. As a member of the Housing Committee, I’ve been proud to work on this bill and push for its advancement. I’ll be continuing to push to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, and to build a winning vote count for it!
Last Friday the Joint Committee on Election Laws reported out Senate Bill 20/House Bill 3665, An Act Relative to the Preparation of Certain Ballots in the City of Boston, also with a favorable “Ought to Pass” recommendation. S.20/H.3665 is a City of Boston home rule petition, which allows for fully bilingual ballots to be made available to Chinese- and Vietnamese-speaking voters in Boston in precincts where there is a high concentration of these language groups.
Currently, fully bilingual ballots are available in municipal elections in Boston, but not in state and federal elections. On state and federal ballots, all the information is translated—except for the names of the candidates… the most important part! This means that some voters’ full and equal voting rights—their right to cast their ballot with confidence that it will be counted for the person they intend, and the right to cast it privately—are compromised.
While most citizens are able to vote in English, the U.S. has recognized that acquiring a new language is especially difficult for seniors. Accordingly, the language requirement on the US citizenship exam is often waived for elderly immigrants. But state and federal ballot still remain out of reach for these citizens in Boston.
If passed, S.20/H.3665 will alleviate a very simple obstacle to stronger voter participation across all our neighborhoods in Boston. The bill is unanimously backed by Mayor Menino and the Boston City Council. Special thanks also go out to the incredible resident activists in Chinatown who have organized so effectively and testified so passionately for this bill. We’re one important step closer to passage this week!