On Friday May 22, 2020 the MBLLC wrote to legislative leaders expressing their concerns and wants regarding elections in the age of COVID-19. The virus has forced reforms in how people work, govern, collaborate, and more. In order to ensure fair, accessible, and equitable elections, we will now need to reconsider how we vote for those elected to govern us. Read the full letter below.
The MBLLC invites Black and Latino high school students to take advantage of and sign up for Biotech in Action: a free summer program run by Cambridge based Biogen. The summer program offers young adults an easy way to see if a career in the biotech industry is right for them. Those who are interested can apply here.
This will be the second year that the MBLLC has partnered with Biogen to try to bring this opportunity to more diverse populations. To help see that through, Biogen has reserved space for underrepresented populations and MBLLC members have been actively engaged with their districts to direct students to the program.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's program will be held virtually through a partnership with MIT that is detailed further here. We urge you to apply, help spread the word, and learn more about the program through the materials below. You can also visit the Virtual Community Lab website here.
Last week the MBLLC invited Mayors, City Councilors, Town Managers, and Selectpeople to join the Caucus for a series of discussions regarding COVID-19. Building on previous MBLLC listening sessions, the roundtable discussions served as a way to continue the Caucus' tradition of meeting with others while focusing intently on listening to what they need from the Caucus.
The first of the meetings was held on Monday, May 18, 2020 with elected officials from Springfield and Holyoke. That was followed by a meeting with electeds from Boston on the same day and a meeting with electeds from the Merrimack Valley on Friday, May 15, 2020.
The Caucus was told about a range of concerns including widening disparities, need for increased testing, barriers to virtual learning, small business assistance, and more. The Caucus will use this input and feedback to inform its continued advocacy for communities of color during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, April 27, 2020 the MBLLC welcomed business owners to fill out a bilingual survey to help the Caucus better understand how our local businesses are being affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. The MBLLC is committed to minimizing the economic impact on Micro / Small Businesses: a thriving and vibrant part of our local communities.
The full survey is linked here:
On April 15, 2020 the MBLLC sent a letter to the Governor requesting that he recognize communities of color as COVID-19 hotspots, increase accessible community based testing in these communities, and take a proactive approach to preventing further outbreaks in these communities. The data has proven that this virus is disproportionately impacting communities of color and the situation unfolding in Chelsea, MA is a testament to that fact. The MBLLC remains committed to mitigating the COVID-19 impact on the communities we serve.
On Tuesday, April 14, 2020 the MBLLC joined the Asian Caucus in addressing bigotry arising during the COVID-19 era. Speaking on the joint statement below, MBLLC Chairman Representative Carlos González (D – Springfield) noted, "Our Caucus categorically denounces discrimination in all its forms, and especially so in the Anti-Asian sentiment arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease has no race or ethnicity, and as it indiscriminately ravages all of our communities, we must remain united against the bigotry that threatens to distract us from the true enemy.”
On Thursday, April 9, 2020 the MBLLC advocated for a pause in the Crisis Standards of Care guidance that the Department of Public Health (DPH) released to help hospitals determine who receives priority access to resources during the COVID-19 surge. Using comorbidities as a determinant, as was recommended in the guidance, would disproportionately impact minority communities. Common comorbidities include diabetes, a history of stroke, and more.
The MBLLC called for action through a letter to Governor Baker and also shared their concerns with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) as hospitals across the Commonwealth began updating their standards to align with those recently released by the DPH.
The MBLLC later coalesced other Senators and Representatives in a sign-on letter to the Governor reiterating the need for a change in the standards. Learn more about the original request through letters and press release included below.
As of April 20, 2020, the Standards where updated as is summarized in this Boston Globe Article and as can be seen in full here.
On Wednesday, March 25, 2020 the MBLLC petitioned the Governor Baker to request a Major Disaster Declaration for Massachusetts. If approved, independent contractors and the self-employed would become eligible for Unemployment Insurance that they would not have access to otherwise.
The following day, as is detailed here, Gov. Baker announced that he had submitted an official request to for the declaration which President Trump later granted on March 27, 2020 as is shown here. We thank the Governor for the request and look forward to continued collaboration in fighting COVID-19.
As Coronavirus/COVID-19 forces everyone around the world to adjust and change the way they work, the MBLLC will serve as a voice for our constituencies to mitigate the impact from this crisis. That will include working with the Department of Corrections (DOC) to ensure the safety of the incarcerated and the DOC staff, while recognizing some changes will be required to ensure that.
Most recently, the DOC announced the suspension of visits as is detailed below. Following that announcement the MBLLC quickly spoke up regarding a now rescinded attached memo which would have placed a moratorium on staff discipline and suspensions. We thank DOC Commissioner Carol Mici for addressing this promptly and we look forward to continuing to work with the DOC during these trying times.
Additional information from the DOC can be found in the Q&A document linked here.
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020 the MBLLC met with the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition (MAWOCC) via conference call to discuss their efforts. Focused on empowering women of color throughout the Commonwealth, the organization is 400+ strong as they fight for important matters such as racial and gender parity on public boards and commissions. They are seeking to implement this through H4153 and requested the MBLLC's support to make it a reality.
The MBLLC looks forward to working together with the MAWOCC and welcome's you to explore their work through their website here. You can also learn more about H4153 here and we urge you to share your support of the bill with your State Legislators.
MBLLC log posts are curated by the Caucus Executive Director.