JCRC 2019-2020 Legislative Priorities

JCRC focuses on collaboration between the private and public sectors, bringing together philanthropists, social service agencies, and community leaders to help individuals and families overcome their hurdles towards opportunity and inclusion.

Civil Rights

Immigration

Safe Communities Act
(Sen. Eldridge/ Rep. Balser & Rep. Miranda)
This new and streamlined Safe Communities Act has the same core provisions to restore community trust in police by avoiding entanglement in immigration matters and protecting due process for all. This bill ends questions about immigration status, unless required by law; requires consent for questioning by ICE; limits notifications to ICE; and ends 287(g) agreements between sheriffs and ICE.

The Work and Family Mobility Act
(Sen. Crighton/Rep. Bouvier & Rep. Barber)

Massachusetts currently issues two types of drivers license: a REAL ID compliant license and a standard license. This legislation would open the standard license to all qualified state residents regardless of status, ensuring that all drivers are trained, licensed and insured -- and removing unlicensed driving as a key entry-point to the deportation pipeline. With this legislation, Massachusetts would join 12 other "REAL ID-compliant" states that issue licenses to all immigrants, including our neighbors Connecticut and Vermont.

LGBT

An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors-Became Law April 2019 | Click here to read JCRC's testimony
(Rep. Khan)
This bill, which passed the House last session, will ban deceptive conversion practices that can lead to depression, substance abuse social withdrawal and suicidality. It is intended to protect minors from harmful, fraudulent and abusive practices and prohibits any licensed mental health professional from forcing minors to change sexual orientation or gender identity.

Combatting Hatred

An Act Relative to Genocide Education
(Sen. Rodrigues/Rep. Roy)
Hatred and anti-Semitism are on the rise.  In 2017, ADL tracked an 86% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in K-12 schools right here in Massachusetts. Many of these incidents involved Holocaust-related imagery and language. Memory of prior atrocities is fading.  According to survey data released last year, many adults lack basic knowledge of the Holocaust, and this lack of knowledge is even more pronounced among millennials. Yet, the overwhelming consensus (93%) is that all students should learn about the Holocaust in school. Education is key to combating hate.  By learning about the Holocaust and other genocides, students will have the opportunity to explore how stereotypes, prejudice, and religious and ethnic hatred can escalate to atrocity.

An Act establishing a hate crimes grant program
(Sen. Moore/Sen. Day)
Seemingly every day a violent and threatening incident motivated by intolerance and bigotry is carried out in every pocket of the Commonwealth. We must meet this crisis head-on through education, community intervention and meaningful partnerships.  Our public schools and institutions are best positioned to develop a generation of residents committed to understanding and respect. The bill directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in coordination with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and the Governor’s Hate Crimes Task Force, to establish a grant program for the education and prevention of hate crimes and incidences of bias in public schools.

Defending Democracy

Read JCRC's Policy on Defending Democratic Norms

Election Day Registration - Click here to read JCRC's testimony
(Sen. Creem/Rep. Malia & Rep. Vargas, and Rep. Benson)
Currently, to cast a ballot in Massachusetts, citizens must register to vote at least 20 days before an election. This arbitrary restriction can be a deterrent that keeps thousands of otherwise qualified Bay State residents from participating in our democracy. Election Day Registration would remove this deterrent that keeps thousands of otherwise qualified Bay State residents from participating in our democracy.

Economic Justice

Lift the Cap on Kids-Became Law in April 2019 | Click here to read JCRC's testimony
(Sen. DiDomenico/Rep. Decker)
Welfare benefits go up by about $100 a month as family size increases, unless the child is excluded by the Cap on Kids. The Cap on Kids denies TAFDC to children conceived while – or soon after – the family received benefits. It passed the House and Senate last session only to be vetoed. This cap must be repealed.

Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty
(Sen. DiDomenico/ Rep. Decker)
Deep Poverty is income below 50% of the federal poverty level or $889/month for a family of three. Currently, TAFDC, which is intended to help families reach their basic needs is capped at $593month. This bill increases TAFDC by 10%/year until it reaches 50%. It also increases EAEDC benefits.

An Act Relative to Credit Building
(Sen. James B. Eldridge, Sen. Jason M. Lewis & Sen. Tram T. Nguyen)
Legislation to create upward economic mobility by allowing credit building through rent reporting. Currently only 1% of credit reports include rental payments- this bill would enable low-income and others to build credit. 

An Act Relative to Fairness in Debt Collection
(Rep. Brodeur/Sen. Eldridge)

Approximately 1 in 4 Massachusetts residents has a debt in collection. This bill would: Increase the amount of income that is protected from garnishment; prohibit employers from disciplining an employee due to wage garnishment; decrease the statute of limitations on consumer debt from 6 to 4 years; prohibit the use of arrest warrants in debt collection; prohibit imprisonment for unpaid consumer debt; decrease the rate of interest that can be charged on judgments; and more protections.

An Act Relative to Economic Mobility for Families with Low Income
(Rep. Vega/Sen. Lewis)
This bill directs the Secretariats to study the impacts of minimum wage increases on cliff effects and accordingly make changes in assistance programs to avoid cliffs. This bill also makes data and information around economic mobility and assistance programs more accessible to families so that they are better informed and can benefit from the available resources.

More Priorities

An Act Relative to Female Genital Mutilation | Click here to read JCRC's testimony
(Sen. Boncore, Sen. Chandler, Sen. Feeney, Sen. Jehlen)
Twenty-eight states have already passed laws banning FGM, Top Massachusetts law enforcement officials testified last session that existing state criminal laws would not cover FGM. Massachusetts must act to stop this practice. This legislation will act as a preventative tool for families who want to end this practice but remain afraid of social pressures to do so. The bills will provide community wide education on the harmfulness of FGM, education for first responders, penalties for the practice of FGM, including for trafficking girls for FGM, and a civil remedy for victims.