On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 the MBLLC met with Commissioner Carol Mici of the Department of Corrections to discuss a range of issues including:
Agreeing to meet at least twice a year, the two groups met to kick off the first of their 2020 meetings. These reoccurring meetings serve as an important opportunity to discuss a range of matters related to the Department of Corrections and the MBLLC constituencies housed at their facilities.
The meetings have proven to be fruitful leading to policy changes and serving as an opportunity for both organizations to help each other. The Caucus looks forward to continuing to build on this relationship and advocating for men and women behind the walls.
On February 18, 2020 MBLLC members visited the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center acting on requests from families and the men incarcerated at the facility. Following an assault on Correctional Officers on 1.10.2020, the Legislator visited the Correctional Center to ensure the safety of both the inmates and Correction Officers. The open dialogue served as an important opportunity for Legislators to express concerns raised by community members regarding alleged unsafe conditions and retaliation.
MBLLC members present for the meeting included Chairman Carlos González, Rep. Russell Holmes, and Rep. Liz Miranda. The Caucus was also joined by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, and House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Claire Cronin. The Legislators met with Department of Corrections Commissioner Carol Mici, Souza Barownoski Superintendent Stephen Kenneway, Correctional Officers, health staff, and others.
The MBLLC will continue to serve as a vehicle for the community to address concerns such as these and looks forward to working with the Department of Corrections to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
On Wednesday, February 12, 2020 the MBLLC met with Senate President Karen Spilka to discuss strategy for the coming months. With the Joint Rule 10 deadline behind them, the MBLLC discussed intentions and reevaluations regarding efforts for the remainder of the session.
The Senate President and MBLLC discussed important matters such as transportation, the Safe Communities Act, the Driver's License bill, and much more. The meeting was the second as of late between the two offices as both agreed to meet on a quarterly basis moving forward.
On Tuesday, February 11, 2020 the MBLLC welcomed 250+ guests to celebrate Black History Month and the Black leaders who make our communities thrive. The celebration was the second of its kind building on past successes of the Caucuses "Excellence" events.
The event featured a speaking program with Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, and MBLLC members. The celebration also serves as an opportunity to recognize Black Excelence 2020 Honorees who were nominated by their respective Legislators.
A full list of the honorees and their biographies can be found below.
On Wednesday, February 5, 2020 UMass Boston’s Gastón Institute and the MBLLC welcomes guests to the State House for an important discussion about Latinos in the labor force.
Latinos composed 12% of Massachusetts' labor force in 2017, and that is expected to grow to over 18% by 2035. Meanwhile, their median wage income was $29,324 compared to $47,526 for non-Latinos. We know this thanks to the report which the Gastón Institute released during the event.
The Institute's work on issues such as this are critically important as they provide us with the data to support the policy initiatives we advocate for. The MBLLC is determined to address these issues and close the wealth gap in the Commonwealth. Thank you to everyone who participated in this important discussion yesterday.
The full report can be viewed here.
On Wednesday, January 29, 2020 the MBLLC met with MassInc to discuss their recent report on electoral reform. Titled "MassForward: Advancing Democratic Innovation and Electoral Reform in Massachusetts," the report highlighted a number of barriers to electoral participation faced by minority populations. Some recommendations discussed includeed aligning local and state elections, using those savings to provide public funding for candidates, and creating an organization to educate and support prospective candidates of color.
The The Boston Foundation and The Hyams Foundation, the funders of the report, also joined the conversation to discuss potential next steps.
The full report can be viewed here.
On Friday, January 24, 2020 Rep. Liz Miranda of Boston’s 5th Suffolk district came before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Flanked by her MBLLC colleagues and other allies, Rep. Miranda spoke on the need to implement the Safe Communities Act: an MBLLC priority which she filed.
The legislation would allow us to build trust between communities and law enforcement, to create clear and uniform state-wide guidelines, and to provide mechanisms for our constituencies to be properly educated on their rights.
As is noted in the MBLLC testimony to the committee, 1 in 6 Massachusetts residents are foreign born. Those foreign born residents make up 1 in 5 workers in our State and immigrants make up $31b in yearly spending here.
The MBLLC welcomes the public to advocate in support of the bill. You can learn more through the materials below.
On Wednesday, January 22, 2020 MBLLC members joined fellow member Rep. Andy Vargas in support of legislation he filed known as the EMPOWER Act. The bill, a legislative priority for the MBLLC, would eliminate the need for a home rule petition from those municipalities that would like to lower the voting age to 16.
While before the Joint Committee on Election Laws, and on the behalf of the MBLLC, Chairman Carlos González spoke on the merits of the bill and on why it is so important for the communities we serve. Chairman González pointed to Takoma Park, Maryland as an example of success. This D.C. suburb lowered their voting age to 16, and as a result, there was a 44% turnout rate for 16 and 17 year olds following its implementation. Comparatively, the overall turnout for that same year was 11%. Takoma Park is among Austria, Brazil, and Argentina who have also lowered their voting age to 16.
MBLLC member Rep. Nika Elugardo also testified in support of the bill, as did the other to sponsors of the bill: Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler.
Information about the bill is included in the attachment below.
On Wednesday, January 22, 2020 the MBLLC and Sen. Jamie Eldridge cosponsored an important event hosted by Massachusetts Against Solitary Confinement (MASC). The event provided Legislators the opportunity to hear directly from those who have been affected by solitary confinement laws. During the event a four member panel shared stories, described examples, and spoke on the need for reform.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020 the MBLLC met with State Auditor Suzanne Bump to discuss her recent report on Municipal Police In-Service Training in the Commonwealth. Auditor Bump's report included five key findings and four recommendations. Most notably, recommendation four recommended the implementation of a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) system. The implementation of a POST system has been something championed by the Caucus for many years now with Rep. Russell Holmes leading the advocacy.
Massachusetts is one of four states without such a system. As is noted in the Auditor's report, a POST system "would ensure officers are meeting training requirements by establishing standards for police training curricula and programs, and would have the authority to decertify officers." The Caucus is thrilled to see Auditor Bump's support of POST and looks forward to collaborating on making it a reality in the Commonwealth.
Auditor Bump's full report can be viewed here.
MBLLC log posts are curated by the Caucus Executive Director.