HOUSE BILL BANS PRISONERS FROM WORKING OUTSIDE OF MASSACHUSETTS -- BILL PROTECTS MASSACHUSETTS TAXPAYERS, REFLECTS BAY STATE VALUES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Representative Natalie Higgins, 978-602-3772
House Bill Bans Prisoners from Working Outside of Massachusetts
Bill protects Massachusetts taxpayers, reflects Bay State values
May 26, 2017 (BOSTON) – Representative Natalie M. Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would prevent an inmate of a state correctional facility from laboring outside the Commonwealth. The bill ensures that taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly and are used to support crucial projects within the state.
“Prison labor programs are funded by Massachusetts taxpayers and, therefore, work done by prisoners should occur within Massachusetts to help address the needs of the Commonwealth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These programs play an important part in supporting prisoners as they reenter society. In addition to protecting taxpayer dollars, this legislation will help ensure the integrity of prison labor programs.”
“We have seen the success of inmate work in our communities, including the inmate community work program in Bristol County which has saved the taxpayers of Bristol County $1.3 million annually,” said Representative Claire D. Cronin (D-Easton), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “We have a legitimate state interest in keeping these programs in the communities that we serve, both from a financial and public safety perspective”
“I applaud the passage of today’s legislation because it sends an important message on how state money should be spent,” said the sponsor of H.3034, Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral (D–New Bedford). “It is now clear that Massachusetts law prohibits inmate work programs from taking place outside of the boundaries of the Commonwealth to ensure that the benefits of such programs are recouped right here in our communities, saving state taxpayers money. Rehabilitation, in the communities where inmates are serving their time, should be the main goal of these programs.”
“I am proud to join my colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used to fund projects within our State, supporting our own communities’ needs,” said Higgins.
Massachusetts inmates may currently provide services within the county where they are incarcerated. This work includes the care of public lands, buildings and grounds, and raising produce to be used in public institutions and state forests.
As the House continues its work on criminal justice reform, this legislation reflects a commitment to providing inmates with re-entry supports. Labor programs are considered a vital “step-down” program that can help individuals reintegrate and curb recidivism.
Originally published in: http://www.leominsterchamp.com/articles/investment-needed-in-all-levels-of-education/
It is that time of year again! The school year is winding down, and graduations are happening all over North Central Massachusetts. This is a time for celebration, for all of the hard work our students, teachers, and staff have put into a successful school year. It is also budget season — the time to establish our priorities, whether that is at the federal, state or local level.
We should be proud of the rich history Massachusetts has as the creator of public education. Our leadership in public education, not only in the country, but internationally, is the result of investments at the state and local level. A more educated community means higher wages, a broader tax base, a stronger economy, and a healthier community.
However, over the last few decades, we have witnessed a decline in those investments. Let’s take a look at the different levels of public education.
• Our K-12 System. The Education Reform Act of 1993 established the Foundation Formula for our schools and increased state aid for local school districts. However, the formula has not been updated in the last 24 years, and many unexpected costs have rendered the formula obsolete, including health insurance, transportation, and special education needs. The debates this week about the Leominster public school budget illustrate many of these shortcomings.
• Early Education. Massachusetts has some of the highest costs of child care, and the average annual fees for full-time infant care is $17,000. For the average single parent in Massachusetts, that is nearly two-thirds of their annual income. Yet data shows that for every dollar of investment in early education, there are seven dollars of long-term benefits to the individual and their community.
• Public Higher Education. We have experienced significant cuts in state funding since 2001, resulting in 31 percent cuts in per student expenditures, more than $5 billion in deferred maintenance across our 29 public colleges and universities, and an over-reliance/exploitation of part-time (adjunct) faculty members. This comes at a time where higher education is even more necessary for economic stability.
If we are going to create a truly affordable and accessible public education system from early education to higher education, we need to find new revenue that will not put more of a burden on low- and middle-income families. The Fair Share Constitutional Amendment will raise more than $2 billion for public education, to make public higher education more affordable, and public transportation, roads, and bridges. Fair Share will likely be on the ballot in November 2018, after its final legislative Constitutional Convention in June.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to strengthen the City of Leominster. As always, you can reach me at Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov or at my office at (978) 227-5278.
Representing Leominster -- Episode 2 -- with Guests City Councilor Sue Chalifoux Zephir & State Representative Jen Benson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT Natalie Higgins. 978-602-3772
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASS PREGNANT WORKERS FAIRNESS ACT
May 10, 2017 (BOSTON) – On Wednesday May 10, 2017, Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined with her colleagues to pass An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
“One half of all pregnant women and new mothers in Massachusetts are in the labor force and earning income to support their families,” said Higgins. “There is still a great need to ensure reasonable accommodations are given when needed.”
Unfortunately, there are still stories of discrimination and of women having miscarriages due to increased labor demands at work, medical issues arising because management doesn’t allow extra bathroom breaks, water or a chair to sit on and women being forced to make the decision to stay in the workforce or have a healthy pregnancy. This shouldn’t be a choice forced upon pregnant workers.
One half of all pregnant women and new mothers in Massachusetts are in the labor force and earning income to support their families and there is a great need to ensure reasonable accommodations are given when needed.