House Approves Legislation to Protect Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities from Harm

(STATE HOUSE, Boston, MA)  Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Pembroke) and his colleagues in the Mass. House of Representatives have passed bipartisan legislation to establish a statewide caretaker registry to protect individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from repeat abusers.

The bill is named for Nicky, a non-verbal young man with autism who was abused by his caretaker at a day program for people with intellectual disabilities. Nicky’s family came forward after learning there was no current mechanism in place to prevent an accused abuser from being rehired at another day program.

The bill creates a ‘do not hire’ list to ensure that caregivers who commit substantiated acts of abuse or neglect are not able to continue to harm individuals with disabilities. All state licensed employers will be required check the registry before hiring or retaining any person as a care provider.

Rep. Cutler is a co-sponsor of “Nicky’s Law,” and as House Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, helped advance the bill through House. It was approved by the full House this week on a unanimous, bipartisan basis.

“This legislation is known as ‘Nicky’s Law’ or ‘Dana’s Law’ but sadly, it could also be known as Liam’s Law, Gracia’s Law, Nat’s Law, or Megan’s Law to name just a few. These are all individuals with disabilities who were victims of some form of abuse or neglect by their caretakers. And those are just a few of the names we know about,” said Rep. Cutler. “This bill will close a critical loophole in the system and offer peace of mind to families of some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Under the bill, the Disabled Persons Protection Commission will be required to create a confidential registry listing any care providers with substantiated claims of abuse. Accused caregivers would receive notice and be given an opportunity to appeal and their names would only be added to the registry if the finding is upheld. Employers who fail to comply with the law could face a fine of up to $5,000, license revocation, and forfeiture of state contracts.

During the last fiscal year, the State Police Detective Unit reviewed 13,102 allegations of abuse, with 2,214 of these reports referred to district attorneys  for criminal investigation. According to The Arc of Massachusetts, less than 10 percent of cases referred actually result in charges against the abuser.

The legislation builds on ongoing increased support for those departments serving adults and children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. From 2012 to 2020, DPPC funding has increased by 93 percent.

Rep. Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen) is the lead House sponsor of the bill, known as An Act to Protect Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities from Abuse.  The Senate previously approved its own version of the caregiver registry. Both branches will now work to reconcile the minor differences between the two bills.

Coats for Vets program comes to Pembroke

Please spread the word about this great event to help local veterans. We have the Mass. Military Support Foundation coming to Pembroke with their mobile truck to hand out free winter coats and other home & food supplies for any veterans in need or their families. The truck will be located right behind the Pembroke recreation center. The event will be Friday, Feb. 7 from 11-1pm. Co-Sponsored by Pembroke Veterans Hanson Robin Kernan and Hanson Veterans Agent Tim White. Any questions please contact Gigi in my office at 617-722-2810 x8242. Thank you @massmilitarysupport

Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) incentive program

Good news for those looking at electric or fuel-cell vehicle purchases! The state’s MOR-EV program has been re-funded by the legislature. This state program has issued over $31 million in rebates for over 15,000 vehicles since its inception in 2014. Here are the eligibility requirements:
· Purchases and leases made on or after January 1, 2020 are eligible.
· Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) with a sales price under $50,000 are eligible for a $2,500 rebate.
· Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) with a sales price under $50,000 and an all-electric range of 25+ miles are eligible for a $1,500 rebate.

Legislature approves additional roadway funds

A close-out state budget passed by the legislature and recently approved by Gov. Baker contains additional roadway funds for our towns. Our district will receive an additional $110K, as follows: Duxbury: $53,837; Pembroke: $56,531, and Hanson: $32,174. These funds ,which are allocated based on community road miles, population and employment factors, provide direct assistance to our cities and towns for essential roadway repairs and projects. This latest round of funding is in addition to the regular annual Chapter 90 disbursement, which in our district this year totaled $1.4M.

Summary of 1st Year of 2019-2020 Session Accomplishments

As of Friday, Nov. 23, 2019, the House passed major legislation relating to education, climate change, public health and safety, children’s wellness, and protecting civil and reproductive rights. In addition, the state’s rainy day fund, also known as the stabilization fund, reached over $3 billion for the first time in the Commonwealth’s history – helping to protect critical services into the future.

During the first half of the Massachusetts 191st General Court’s 2019 to 2020 session which ended on Nov. 20, 2019, the House passed 11 pieces of significant and legislation including the historic $1.5 billion investment in public education known as the Student Opportunity Act.

The House also passed nation-leading legislation to modernize tobacco control and ban all flavored tobacco and legislation to reduce distracted driving. In addition the House passed  comprehensive legislation relating to children’s wellnesshigher education financial stability, banning conversion therapy, providing breakfast after the bell for school children, and to provide supplemental funding for women’s reproductive health organizations as a result of cuts the Title X program, which was included as part of a supplemental budget. 

Helping to protect the most vulnerable children and families in the Commonwealth, the House voted tolifts a decades-old family welfare cap to extend cash benefits to the 8,700 Massachusetts children and their families who had previously been excluded.  The House also voted to protect public sector employee rights and to approve campaign finance reform.  

Finally, the House acted to address climate change by advancing a $1 billion investment over the next 10 years to help communities across Massachusetts adopt technologies that cut greenhouse gas emissions, fortify infrastructure, and reduce municipal costs.

The House passed the following bills during the first year of its two-year session.

Enacted Laws

An Act Relative to Educational Opportunity for Students (S.2412)

An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids (H.3594)

An Act to Support Improved Financial Stability in Higher Education (H.4099)

An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving (H.4203)

An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control (H.4196)

An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors (H140)

An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness (H.4210)

An Act Relative to Campaign Finance (H.4223)

Awaiting action from the Senate

An Act Relative to GreenWorks (H.3997)

An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell (H.4218)

Enter Rep. Cutler’s 8th annual Student Art Show

Click here to download entry packet.

Local high school students are invited to participate in Rep. Josh Cutler’s 8th annual Sixth Plymouth District Student Art Competition. Selected works will be hung on display at the Massachusetts State House.

The competition is open to any high school age student living in Pembroke, Duxbury or Whitman-Hanson. Any original piece of artwork completed by the student within the last 18 months and not previously entered in the competition is eligible.

Each student may submit up to three pieces in a format suitable for hanging. Categories are photography, paintings, drawing and pastels and mixed media. There will be an award for Best in Show.

The deadline for submitting entries is Friday, February 14, 2020. Any original student work completed in the past year is eligible. A panel of local artists will judge the works and select winners. Artwork will on display in March at the Massachusetts State House, and an online gallery of all winning entries will be posted to Rep. Cutler’s website.

“We’ve got some talented young artists here on the South Shore and this is a way to showcase their efforts,” said Rep. Cutler. “I can’t wait to see all the entries and be able to share them with our State House visitors.”

Entries should be no larger than 28 inches wide by 28 inches tall by 4 inches thick; not weigh more than 15 pounds; and be original in concept, design and execution.

Entries may be delivered to Rep. Cutler’s office, 620 County Road, Hanson, via their high school teacher, or at the Duxbury Art Association by the entry deadline. Entry forms must be completed and attached to the work.

Click here to download entry packet.

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Child Wellness Legislation

The House and Senate have passed legislation supporting the health and wellness of children across the Commonwealth. This bill aims to break down silos to better address the complex health and wellness needs specific to the Commonwealth’s 1.4 million children. The effort seeks to create a foundation for better access to services and more data to inform future policy, while supporting a holistic approach to children’s wellbeing. 

“With this legislation the House continues to build on its session-long focus on child and adolescent wellbeing, and our work will help children across the Commonwealth grow into healthy and productive adults,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop).  “This first step in our initiative will begin to develop a comprehensive support system for our most vulnerable children especially for foster children and youth who face behavioral or complex medical issues.”

The legislation seeks to address child wellness in the following eight areas:

  1. Secures healthcare benefits for foster children until the age of 26, making it easier for this vulnerable population to access MassHealth benefits they are entitled to at minimal cost to the Commonwealth. It codifies the practice for Massachusetts in the event of change on the federal level to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Requires insurance companies to maintain accurate and accessible provider directories for health plans. The provision directs companies to make the directories available without requiring users to create a new online account or profile. The directory must be updated frequently to ensure the information is correct. Insurance companies must take steps to make the directories user-friendly for individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency. Establishes a task force to develop recommendations to ensure the accurate electronic posting of directories headed by the Commissioner of Insurance.
  • Creates childhood behavioral health centers of excellence via a pilot program that designates three regional centers to act as clearinghouses to connect families, providers, and educators to services and training opportunities. Requires the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to report on progress and impact after one year of implementation.
  • Requires the Heath Policy Commission to conduct analysis within the next year of children with medical complexities to analyze costs and population characteristics of this group in order to develop recommendations about how to serve this unique population.
  • Establishes a task force to study pediatric behavioral health screening tools.
  • Creates a special commission to examine the pediatric workforce to address pediatric provider availability and adequacy. The commission would recommend strategies for increasing the pipeline of pediatric providers and expanding access to practicing providers.  
  • Charges a 17-member special commission to review school-based health centers for the purpose of strengthening, improving, and considering ways to replicate best practices across the state.
  • Creates a special commission chaired by the Child Advocate to review and make recommendations on mandated reporting to improve responses to child abuse and neglect.

The bill now goes to the governor.