Legislation

Jen’s Sponsored Legislation for the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

H.133: AN ACT TO MODERNIZE PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY

Massachusetts law requires a firm to appoint a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as its managing partner. This bill would amend the General Laws by allowing non-CPA firm owners to serve as managing partners.


H.134: AN ACT REMOVING FEES FOR SECURITY FREEZES AND DISCLOSURES OF CONSUMER CREDIT REPORTS

This bill would waive the fee to place, edit or remove a credit freeze, or obtain a credit report should a consumer be the victim of identity theft.


H.223: AN ACT TO PROVIDE EQUAL ACCESS TO THE BUREAU OF SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS

This bill would allow the director of the Bureau, under the direction and supervision of the chief administrative magistrate, to hire an attorney to serve as pro se facilitator to unrepresented parents, so that they may access the Bureau’s dispute resolution processes.


H.224: AN ACT RELATIVE TO SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES FOR LOW INCIDENCE POPULATIONS

This bill creates a commission to study the way the Commonwealth currently funds education for students with severe special needs. The Commission would look at alternative methods of directing funding for the education of this population. The current formula is disruptive for both schools and families of special needs students. The Commission would focus on funding a child with severe disabilities from diagnosis through adulthood. This would offer cohesive services for the child and his or her family and would remove the funding burden from school districts.


H.225: AN ACT TO PROMOTE COST-EFFECTIVE, HIGH QUALITY IN-DISTRICT PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY

This bill, filed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, would establish a pilot program to encourage schools to create or expand high-quality in-district programs for students with disabilities. The program would provide grants to up to 6 towns to establish in-district special education programs for students previously sent to out-of-district placements. It would also create an oversight board to assess the new programs and evaluate their success and any potential cost savings.


H.336: AN ACT REGARDING SPOUSES AS CAREGIVERS

This bill would allow spouses to be included as paid caregivers in the MassHealth program. Currently, MassHealth offers programs to keep clients in their homes under the care of an individual or relative in exchange for a stipend, and coordination of care and respite services. Spouses and dependent children providing long term support for their significant other, however, are exempt from the program and cannot receive state support for the services they provide. The bill would expand the eligibility to include an enrollee’s spouse, helping more elders and disabled persons remain in their homes and out of assisted living facilities.


H.337: AN ACT TO INCREASE THE PERSONAL NEEDS ALLOWANCE FOR RESIDENTS OF LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES

The Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) pays for expenses not covered by MassHealth for nursing and rest home residents. This money helps residents pay for clothing and other personal needs. The General Laws currently allow MassHealth to set the PNA as low as $60 per month. This bill would update the laws to ensure that the PNA cannot be set at an amount less than $100.


H.353: AN ACT TO ESTABLISH ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION

This bill would amend the General Laws to ensure that a person who recently moved is not prohibited from voting in a state or national election for at least six months after moving, ensures adequate hours of operation on the last day of registration, and allows an individual who is eligible to vote to register on the day of an election. To ensure an effective same day registration process, the language would also establish an advisory committee to review the implementation of the policy, and make recommendations for improving the administration of Election Day registration.


H.489: AN ACT ENSURING APPROPRIATE ALLOTMENT OF RISK

In a rapidly changing health care payment landscape, providers are increasingly required to hold a financial stake in the health of their patients through risk-based contracts.  However, despite this transfer of risk, payers continue to hold monies in risk based capital (RBC). RBC measures the amount of capital a company needs to support its operations, considering the company’s size and risk profile.

This legislation would prohibit any insurance carrier with a risk based capital (RBC) ratio over 600% from contributing more than .5% to surplus, and would prohibit carriers with an RBC ratio over 700% from contributing to surplus. Any carrier with an RBC over 600% would be required to submit testimony to the Division of Insurance detailing how the surplus would be used to increase the relative price for any acute care hospital with a RP below .85, as compared to other acute care hospitals in a commercial carrier’s insurance network.


H.490: AN ACT RELATIVE TO ENSURING TRANSPARENCY OF HEALTH PLAN FORMULARIES

As consumers are asked to be more savvy health care shoppers, they can only do so with accurate information. While the cost of a drug varies significantly depending on the source, consumers who are increasingly facing co-insurance (rather than a fixed co-pay) must know the cost of a drug before they can choose the plan that most efficiently meets their needs. Without this information, consumers may be unnecessarily increasing their costs and the likelihood that they forgo needed medications. This bill would ensure that all the necessary cost information is available to consumers when they choose their health plans, whether through the Health Connector website, their employer’s health insurance website, or other means.


H.491: AN ACT RELATIVE TO TRANSPARENCY AND ACCESS IN HEALTHCARE

This bill would require health care transparency across the board for consumers in the Commonwealth. It would require drug manufacturers to disclose Wholesale Acquisition Cost, and research and development (R &D) costs of drugs to the Department of Public Health (DPH), to be reported on DPH’s website. It would also require Pharmacy Benefit Managers to annually disclose to the Division of Insurance (DOI) information related to generic prescriptions, rebates, and more. Lastly, it would require health plans to provide all information relative to costs of drugs on their websites and report the information to DOI. Transparency and access to this information will enhance consumers’ participation in their care.


H.492: AN ACT TO REDUCE HEALTH CARE COSTS THROUGH IMPROVED MEDICATION MANAGEMENT

This bill would ensure that step therapy or “fail first” programs are based on appropriate clinical guidelines, and that any required drug sequences are developed independently by clinical experts. It would also establish protections for when patients should be exempted from step therapy programs, such as when a drug is contraindicated or has been previously tried. Finally, it would ensure that exceptions processes are transparent to patients and health care providers.


H.593: AN ACT TO SUPPORT EQUAL ACCESS TO COMMUNITY CARE FOR ELDERS AND THE DISABLED

This bill would allow the Program for All-inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) participants with incomes over the program limit to remain on the program and be charged a reasonable premium. If the individual’s income is greater than 300% of the Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) level, but less than the average monthly cost of a nursing home as calculated by the Division of Medical Assistance, and the individual is participating in a Home and Community Based Waiver or PACE, then the individual would pay a monthly premium that is the difference between gross income and 300% of SSI.


H.594: AN ACT RELATIVE TO A BUNDLED PAYMENT PILOT PROGRAM

This is a cost savings bill that would create a Bundled Payment Pilot program through the Office of Medicaid. A bundled payment is when there is a single predetermined payment to multiple providers for an entire episode of care. The pilot program would emulate the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) models of care. Under this pilot program, providers would enter into payment arrangements that include financial and performance accountability for episodes of care. CMS has found that the bundled payment model could lead to higher quality, more coordinated care at a lower cost to Medicare.


H.595: AN ACT TO ADDRESS THE FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY OF THE HEALTH SAFETY NET

The Commonwealth continues to need a strong safety net for uninsured and underinsured residents and the Health Safety Net program is an integral part of protecting these patients. However, in recent years, the program has operated with a funding shortfall, and this financial instability threatens the viability of the program. This bill would address the financial stability in three ways.

First, it would reinforce the current statutory requirement of the Unemployment Assistance Trust Fund’s contribution to support the Health Safety Net with at least $30 million annually, which has not been fulfilled in recent years.

Second, the bill also would protect the federal revenue generated by Health Safety Net spending by dedicating it to the Health Safety Net Trust Fund. Third, the bill would allocate responsibility for any funding shortfall in the program equally among hospitals and surcharge payers. While hospitals and surcharge payers are currently assessed an equal amount to fund the Health Safety Net, currently hospitals alone are solely responsible for any funding shortfall in the program.


H.596: AN ACT TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE HEALTH CARE COST CONTROL

This bill would require the state to compare our total health care spending with our projected health care spending if the Commonwealth implemented a single payer health care system. If, after several years, the “Single Payer Benchmark” outperformed our actual health care spending, the state would be responsible for developing a single payer implementation plan and submitting it to the Legislature.


H.627: AN ACT ESTABLISHING A STUDENT TUITION RECOVERY FUND

This bill would create a Student Tuition Recovery Fund to help Massachusetts students who have been defrauded by for-profit schools. The Fund would allow eligible students an opportunity to recover tuition and related costs if the for-profit school they attended closed, failed to provide the services promised to their students, or violated state law. Students would be able to submit a claim for reimbursement to the Attorney General’s Office which would oversee the Fund. Twenty-two other states have already established a Student Tuition Recovery Fund.


H.628: AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE STATE UNIVERSITIES TO OFFER CLINICAL AND PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATE PROGRAMS

There is a significant difference between a clinical and professional degree program, and a PhD. Currently, Mass. General Laws prohibit state universities from offering doctorate level programs. In the current job market, there is an increasing request for higher levels of education for entry level positions. Many employers are seeking a clinical or professional doctorate rather than a Master’s Degree. Many other states already allow for their state universities to offer these advanced programs, but prohibit those institutions from offering PhD programs. This bill would update the General Laws in order to align MA’s state universities with those across the country, and allow for state universities to offer clinical and professional doctorate degree programs.


H.1080: AN ACT TO PROTECT PUPPIES AND KITTENS

This bill would prevent the sale of dogs or cats less than 8 weeks of age, provide a remedy to consumers who are sold a sick dog or cat, regulate certain breeders, and ensure the sources from which pet shops receive puppies and kittens adhere to certain standards and do not have more than 3 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.


H.1128: AN ACT RELATIVE TO DIABETES PREVENTION

In the Commonwealth, 690,004 are currently impacted by diabetes, which costs the state economy $6.6 billion. This bill would create a Massachusetts Diabetes State Action Plan through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The Diabetes State Action Plan would call on appropriate state agencies to collaborate to identify and better understand the impact of diabetes in Massachusetts, set goals to reduce the increasing impact of the diabetes, and develop state agency and department plans to reduce the frequency of the disease.


H.1328: AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE FORT DEVENS FIRE DEPARTMENT

The intent of the bill is to clarify that members of the Devens Fire Department are owed the same protections provided to other firefighters employed in the Commonwealth. The bill is similar to prior legislation that clarified that members of the Massachusetts Military Reservation Fire Department are owed the same retirement rights, injury leave rights, and collective bargaining rights as other firefighters employed in the Commonwealth. The bill would accomplish this goal by clarifying that the various definitions, found in G.L. c. 32, G.L. c. 41, Section 111F, G.L. c. 150E, and G.L. c. 149, Section 30A, cover members of the Devens Fire Department.


H.1724: AN ACT RELATIVE TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY

This bill was written in response to recent innovations in heating and cooling technology, and would give consumers unrestricted choice of what is best for his or her home, so long as efficiency goals are met.

Heat pumps, mini-splits, and other technological breakthroughs in heating, cooling, and water heaters have progressed in the past few years. The efficiency of electric heaters, which used to be the most inefficient means of heating or cooling water or space, has improved dramatically.

This bill would allow consumers to choose the system or device that is most efficient for their home or business without restriction as to the type of fuel consumed. It would also allow the transmission companies to provide incentives for these systems or devices based solely on their efficiency.


H.1725: AN ACT RELATIVE TO LOCAL ENERGY INVESTMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE MODERNIZATION

The energy system in Massachusetts is undergoing a significant transition as consumer-centric technologies upend the historic model of supplying energy to consumers. Distributed solar, efficiency, and smart energy management can reduce the need for traditional utility infrastructure expenditures and reduce costs. This bill would make reforms to grid planning standards and utility and consumer incentives. The language includes updates to the Department of Public Utilities’ current Grid Mod proceedings by promoting local energy resources and customer control and establishing consumer protections.


H.1726: AN ACT TO PROMOTE GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE, REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, AND CREATE JOBS

This bill would assist the Commonwealth in reaching the greenhouse gas reductions mandated by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, by placing a fee on the carbon dioxide pollution that results from burning fossil fuels. Eighty percent of the revenues would be returned via rebates to households and employers, while 20 percent would be used to fund green infrastructure, including transportation improvements, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and protection against the impacts of climate change

There is worldwide agreement among experts on climate policy that such a “carbon price” is the most effective and cost-effective means of achieving the deep cuts in greenhouse gas pollution that are necessary to protect our climate. The northeast U.S., including Massachusetts, already imposes such a fee on carbon pollution from power plants via the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as do California, several Canadian provinces, and much of Europe.

By rebating 80 percent of the funds according to a progressive formula, the bill would ensure that low-and-moderate-income households come out even or ahead from the combination of fees and rebates. Moreover, because the bill rebates funds to employers based on their number of employees, most business sectors would come out ahead, and there would be a net gain to employment in the state. Additional protection would be provided to rural households and to business sectors that face strong competitive pressures from companies outside the state.


H.1802: AN ACT RELATIVE TO AMENDING THE JUNIOR OPERATOR LAW

This bill would amend the Junior Operator Law to require the RMV to send all written warnings or citations issued to junior operators to the operator’s parent/guardian. This would keep parents informed of their child’s driving status and help them work with their child to prevent loss of license or other consequences.


H.1803: AN ACT RELATIVE TO COUNTERFEIT AIRBAG PROHIBITION

Over the past few years, tens of thousands of counterfeit airbags have been confiscated by federal agents in raids across the country. Unfortunately, federal law enforcement agencies have limited authority to combat this problem, as many fake airbags do not violate federal trademark law. As a result, several thousand faulty airbags enter the stream of commerce each year where they are sold over the internet through legitimate and illegitimate websites, putting Massachusetts motorists at risk.

A solution to this issue is to outlaw fake airbags in Massachusetts. State law in Massachusetts does not currently protect consumers from those who knowingly manufacture, import, or sell these dangerous products. Over the past few years, ten states have enacted similar laws (AL, CT, FL, IA, LA, NJ, NM, NY, OH & TX) with broad bipartisan support. This language was also used as model legislation by the Council of State Governments in their 2015 “Suggested State Legislation” docket.


H.2414: AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE PUBLICATION OF NOTICE REQUIREMENTS

This bill would remove posting and placement requirements for bylaw updates, including posting at least twice one week apart in a newspaper, posting in two or more newspapers, and posting in a conspicuous place. Rather, this language would allow zoning and bylaw announcements to be treated the same as Open Meeting Law requirements.


H.2810: AN ACT RELATIVE TO AUTOMATED RETAIL CHECKOUT SYSTEMS

This bill would relieve the current mandate for the Division of Standards (DOS) to inspect and test the operation of all automated retail checkout systems in all establishments with 3 or more cash registers in every 24 month period to a discretionary inspection. Currently, DOS is also required to examine and test the operation of any retail checkout system whenever a complaint is received.

The DOS Director’s position was that since there is currently a 98% accuracy rate on these scanners, the mandate of inspection within the 24 month period places an unnecessary and burdensome obligation on the Division and its resources, and those resources would be better allocated elsewhere. The legal requirement that the Division respond to complaints by inspecting and testing the accuracy of the pertinent scanner would continue as the effective means by which to address a pricing discrepancy while conserving the resources of the Division.


This bill would create a Healthy Kitchens Massachusetts School Building Authority pilot program for public elementary and secondary schools with the purpose of updating school kitchens for fresh food preparation and storage. Included is a farm-to-school pilot program, which aims to improve access to locally sourced foods in school cafeterias, increase the supply of fresh, locally grown farm products served for meals and snacks in K-12 school environments, and incorporates better education and engagement around healthy food choices. To provide incentive to schools, the pilot will also include a grant program.


H.3576: AN ACT RELATIVE TO CAMPUS SAFETY

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s Task Force on Campus Safety produced a report in June 2016, which emphasized the importance of providing a “clear and concise” definition of “affirmative consent”, as it relates to sexual activity between students, and offering resources to higher education institutions. This bill would include a definition of “affirmative consent” in the General Laws for schools and students to refer too. Additionally, the bill would create a task force to study the feasibility of creating a state assault review board to serve as an independent and impartial point of view for judicial proceedings.


H.3766: AN ACT PROHIBITING THE COLLECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION FROM A CONSUMER

This legislation prevents a telecommunications or internet service provider that has entered into a franchise agreement, right-of-way agreement, or other contract with the state of Massachusetts or a political subdivision from collecting personal information from a customer without express written approval from the customer.