Serving Our Seniors
Drawing on my years of experience as an attorney in the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, I have made protecting and advocating for our seniors a top priority. In my first term, I was proud to sponsor legislation which created a specialized commission dedicated to identifying areas where we as a State could better serve our elders. As a result of the recommendations of that group, I’ve been able to introduce a few pieces of key legislation that provides the legal protections seniors are entitled to.
Following a disturbing case in Middlesex county in which a senior citizen suffering from Alzheimer’s was tricked into signing the deed of her house away to a predatory neighbor, I’ve sponsored legislation which would ensure that independent parties witness large contractual transactions between seniors and others to ensure that they aren’t exploited. As Massachusetts’ population ages, it is vital that we build protections into the law to shield seniors from predatory business practices.
Alzheimer’s Training for Social Workers
In January, working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts/New Hampshire, I filed House Bill 516: An Act Relative to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Training for Elder Protective Services Social Workers. My colleague, Senator Patricia Jehlen of Somerville, has filed companion legislation in the State Senate. This legislation seeks to establish minimum training standards for elder protective services social workers in the area of cognitive impairments. The bill will ensure that elder protective services case workers have the training they need to recognize the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease, and understand how these impairments might impact screening of cases, investigation, and service planning. The overall goal is to create interactive and effective relationships with the clients and families they serve.
Elder financial exploitation is a critical problem for our senior population. A growing number of elders are becoming victims of increasingly intricate scams, often involving complex financial instruments and complicated legal documents. In October 23, 2014, the Special Commission on Elder Protective Services recommended the creation of FAST Teams to assist protective services workers in combatting elder financial exploitation. FAST Teams provide expert resources in areas such as law and accounting to help PS workers to help them deal with these complex cases. I was pleased to secure increased funding for this program in the last budget.
The men and women who serve our country in the armed forces deserve nothing but the best when they return home. It is imperative that we support our veterans by making sure that they have access to adequate housing, jobs, and healthcare. With over 379,772 veterans living in Massachusetts, and six military bases which house current servicemen and women, we have to ensure that this extraordinary community is welcome, supported and celebrated in our state.
Extending Veteran Benefits to Survivors
Before they enter the battlefield, our soldiers must be totally confident that their families and loved ones will be taken care of. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation which would provide expanded college scholarships to the children and widowed spouses of fallen service men and women.
Removing Barriers for Veterans Seeking Employment
With Veteran unemployment higher in MA than the national average, we must do everything we can to reintegrate veterans into our community, and make sure they are able to find gainful employment. I introduced legislation which would waive the State’s professional licensure fees. From nursing licenses to crane operating licenses, the State requires consistent renewals, each bearing a fee. Vets should be able to pursue their trade without being encumbered by these costs.
Waiving RMV Registration Fees for Disabled Vets
As a small token of our appreciation for their service, I have introduced legislation which would waive registration fees for disabled veterans purchasing or registering a vehicle
Strong, comprehensive, and challenging public schools are the key to our future success as a nation and as a local community. We owe our young people a quality educational system which will prepare them for career readiness or college. We are all aware of the impact an incredible teacher can have on an individual student’s life, but we must also recognize that for many of our students who come from struggling homes, school is their best shot at breaking the cycle of generational poverty.
Instilling responsible, safe decision making skills in our young people isn’t just a priority, it’s a mandate. While the topics of sexual health and human reproduction should be discussed between parents and their children, we have to make sure that the information students are taught in school is age appropriate and medically accurate. The Healthy Youth bill I filed sets out to do just that. School districts will retain the authority to create their own curriculum, and parents will maintain the ability to opt their students out of sexual education classes. This bill simply ensures that when a school teaches reproductive health and sexual education, it is in keeping with current medical research and is oriented appropriately for the student’s age.
Empowering Parent Teacher Organizations
Parent Teacher Organizations and school booster clubs provide an invaluable service to the educational communities they serve. In addition to promoting active participation in the education of our children, these groups often fiscally support programs the district wouldn’t be able to organize or fund on their own. My bill which would permit PTO’s to conduct raffles and bazars would equip these organizations with more fundraising tools and make supporting our schools easier for parent volunteers. I’ve also advocated for and filed legislation which would remove the burdensome fees the state requires when parents register their organizations.
Day Care Insurance Disclosures
Parents should be able to find our whether or not their day care providers carry insurance in the event that their child suffers from an accident while under their supervision. This commonsense bill does not mandate insurance of all providers, acknowledging that many day care facilities are small operations out of private residences. It simply requires that day care providers inform parents whether or not they are insured.
Carbon Monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’, and deaths from this noxious fume are particularly tragic because we have the technology to prevent them. Currently, only private residences are required to have CO detectors. Scares in Massachusetts schools and workplace deaths have brought attention to this issue. As the lead sponsor of legislation which would require CO detectors in all dwellings and buildings where folks congregate, I hope we are able to eradicate this threat, and bring added safety to our surroundings.
Training Cops in Autism Awareness
There has been a precipitous rise in the number of cases of children diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. This disorder is marked by certain unique tics and behaviors, and interacting with authority figures in high stress environments often poses immense problems for those living on the spectrum. It’s vital that our emergency services personnel are well versed in the methods most effective for interacting with individuals living with Autism. The split second decisions firefighters and police make every day in emergency situations need to be informed by a strong understanding of the experience of those they are trying to save. Legislation I’ve put forward would equip emergency personnel with the training and tools they need to be aware of and handle effectively the special needs of Autistic persons.
Child Enticement, SORC, Photographing a child, Protect our communities act?