Senate panel wants homeowners insurance clarity The Boston Globe

“In a time of profound public mistrust of both governmental and financial elites, the Committee finds no justification for a regulatory process marked by a no-exceptions rejection of public notice, informational access, and consumer input.”

Read the article about the report

Report: Home insurance rates yield high profits, get little scrutiny Press Release

A report by the State Senate lambasts the process of setting Massachusetts home insurance rates and calls for immediate changes to state law to protect residents.

In 2015 the Massachusetts Division of Insurance considered, and granted, requests by several of the state’s biggest insurers to raise their rates on homeowners coverage by as much as 9%. Yet neither the public, nor state legislators, nor insurance experts in the state Attorney General’s office, were informed of the requests.

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Marking the 50th anniversary of a win for gender equality

In 1966 Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb became the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon.  The rules restricted the competition to men, but Bobbi jumped in at the starting line to join the male runners.  She completed the course in an impressive 3 hours and 21 minutes.  To mark the 50th anniversary of her trail-blazing, the State Senate honored her.  Here, with Sen. Jehlen, Sen. Lewis, our honoree, and Sen. Lovely.

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Bedford High School students go to Beacon Hill to represent METCO Bedford Minuteman

“These kids are really the heroes of their own education,” Barrett said. “They get up much earlier than their peers at a time when research shows students should be sleeping in. I am blown away by the quiet passion of these students.”

Read the article about METCO

People with disabilities testify against exclusion from proposed health Office Press Release

An initiative to reduce health disparities linked to race and ethnicity should be widened to include people with disabilities, according to experts and self-advocates who turned out en masse at the State House.

A proposed new Office of Health Equity is directed explicitly to work in tandem with the existing Massachusetts Health Disparities Council, already tasked with a three-part focus on race, ethnicity and disability.  Yet recent legislative action, little noticed, seeks to exclude people with disabilities from the scope of the new Office, de-aligning its mission from that of the Council.

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Librarians educate legislators

Each year, Massachusetts residents borrow 6.5 million items that happen to be unavailable at their local libraries.  This, thanks to resource sharing among communities.  I recently chatted about funding for this initiative and others with Sudbury librarians Megan Statza Warren, Esme Green and Marie Royea.

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Taking on big money and environmental harm

The League of Women Voters does terrific work, pushing back against global warming and unlimited money in politics.  Local chapters came to the State House recently to advance these causes.  Above, with team Concord-Carlisle; below, with the group from Waltham.LWV - collage

Keep kids out of detention The Boston Globe

A budget priority of mine: The detention diversion program run by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps is an initiative to prevent young people from re-entering the juvenile justice system. Its community-based support includes 24/7 case management — coordination with probation staff, face-to-face communication and curfew checks and weekly family check-ins.

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Read the article about juvenile detention

Health equity push expands to include disability and gender Press Release

An initiative to reduce health disparities linked to race and ethnicity has widened to include women and people with disabilities, thanks to a bill just passed by the State Senate.

Health disparities are gaps in access to care or in actual outcomes that confront certain groups disproportionately.  As they relate to disabilities, health disparities include inaccessible doctors’ offices, ill-equipped examination rooms and frustrating communications barriers.

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Health equity push expands to include disability and gender Press Release

An initiative to reduce health disparities linked to race and ethnicity has widened to include women and people with disabilities, thanks to a bill just passed by the State Senate.

Health disparities are gaps in access to care or in actual outcomes that confront certain groups disproportionately.  As they relate to disabilities, health disparities include inaccessible doctors’ offices, ill-equipped examination rooms and frustrating communications barriers.

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Catching up with the LWV

Many thanks to the Weston League of Women Voters of Massachusetts for hosting its recent legislative talk. State Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley, and I took questions on solar initiatives and rising health care costs, to name a few. Photo courtesy of Katherine Wolfthal of the League.

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A priority of mine for the upcoming state budget season

Walking the State House halls with Boston Bar Association President and Lincoln resident Lisa Arrowood. We discussed funding for legal aid lawyers, who represent low-income people confronted with non-criminal crises like evictions, heating shutoffs and high hospital bills.

Sen.Barrett and Lisa Arrowood

Senate passes bill to close gender pay gap Press Release

The State Senate has passed a bill to close the wage gap between men and women workers in Massachusetts.  The legislation, which passed unanimously, mandates equal pay for comparable work, boosts wage transparency and requires the hiring process to be fair.

Women comprise almost half the state’s workforce, but earn roughly 82% of what men make.  African American women earn 66 cents for every dollar made by male workers; Latina women only 54 cents.

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Bill would allow more review of homeowners insurance rate increases The Boston Globe

I want these rate increases discussed in an open forum. I don’t want million-dollar propositions handled in private, where only industry is heard.

Read the article on homeowner’s insurance

Bike advocates press for road safety measures Press Release

Bicyclists from around Massachusetts gathered at the State House recently to call for new road safety measures to prevent traffic injuries and deaths. One of the bills before the Transportation Committee sets a minimum distance for cars to pass bicyclists; another aims to stop cars from blocking bike lanes.

Both pieces of legislation are authored by State Senator Will Brownsberger, D-Belmont, and backed by local State Senator Mike Barrett, D-Lexington. Barrett, a committed cyclist, is a longtime supporter of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail and other pathways across his district. He says the Legislature should act on bike safety now.

Barrett on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

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Seth Moulton opened his home, heart to a refugee The Boston Globe

Congressman Moulton injects some much-needed perspective into the conversation about refugees: As Americans, we don’t turn our backs on those in need.  We lend a helping hand.

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Read the article on Congressman Moulton’s story