JCRC 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 | Read JCRC's Testimony
(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 | Read JCRC's testimony
(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.

LGBTQ

An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors-Became Law April 2019
(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.

Racial Justice

An Act to reform police standards and shift resources to build a more equitable, fair and just commonwealth that values Black lives and communities of color - Click here to read our testimony
(S2820/H4860)
Would create a system for certifying and decertifying officers, impose limits on the use of force, eliminate qualified immunity, ban use of facial recognition technology statewide for one year, and allow school districts to opt out of having an officer on-site.

An Act to Save Black Lives
(HD5128, filed by Rep. Liz Miranda & SD2968, filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem)
This bill would re-write the rules on use of force and establish serious, enforceable consequences for violations. It would reduce the role of police in situations where social interventions are safer and more effective; require police to use de-escalation techniques and tactics; limit force to the minimum amount necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose; require that any use of force be proportional; require other officers to intervene if they witness an excessive use of force; and ban police use of choke holds, rubber bullets, tear gas, attack dogs, and no-knock warrants. It would also mandate data collection on injuries and deaths caused by police and other law enforcement officers, make records of police misconduct public, and explicitly recognize that police violence is a danger to public health.

An Act to Secure Civil Rights
(H.3277, filed by Rep. Michael Day)
This bill would fix the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act to enable people whose rights have been violated to secure redress in court. Laws and policies that are supposed to hold police accountable are meaningless without a strong enforcement mechanism. The MCRA is supposed to be that mechanism, but unfortunately the current law is broken. This bill would fix language in the statute requiring a plaintiff to show that a violation of rights was accompanied by “threats, intimidation or coercion,” which courts have interpreted to let officers off the hook for many direct violations of rights, even ones involving terrible physical abuse. It would also eliminate in Massachusetts the judicial doctrine known as “qualified immunity,” which shields police from liability if the right that was violated was not “clearly established.” Today, it is not uncommon for courts to acknowledge that the police violated a constitutional right, but still fail to hold the officer liable because of qualified immunity.

Congresswoman Pressley’s resolution condemning police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force

Resolve providing for a "Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training" to Study and Make Recommedations Concerning the Implementation of a Peace Officers Standards and Training (Post) System
(Rep Holmes/Rep Vieira)
Resolve to provide for a “Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training” to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of a statewide Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) system that certifies police officers and enable de-certification for misconduct and abuse.

An Act to Reform Civil Service Exams
(Rep Holmes)
Establishes an Office of Diversity and Equal opportunity to establish guidelines and review for diversity plans for all state agencies, establishes a peace officer exam advisory board to review examinations for appointment and promotion of peace officers.

An Act Establishing a Special Commission on Structural Racism
(Rep. Holmes)
Establishes a commission to study how the systemic presence of institutional racism has created a culture of structural racial inequality which has exacerbated disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system in Massachusetts.

Combatting Hatred

An Act Relative to Genocide Education | Read JCRC's testimony
(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

An Act ensuring safe and participatory 2020 state elections in response to COVID-19 - Became law July 7th, 2020 Click here to Read JCRC's Testimony 
(Rep. Moran/ Rep. Lawn)

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inadequacies of our voting infrastructure and created an urgent need to address these issues ahead of the 2020 elections. The bill accomplishes this by relaxing restrictions for voting by absentee ballot by making COVID a reason for request. It also creates an online portal to request a mail-in ballot for the September primary and ensures everyone will receive a mail-in ballot for the general election in November. There is also an expansion of early voting for the September primary and November general election as well as enhanced safety protocols for in-person voting including social distancing and personal protective equipment for poll-workers.

MA Rank Choice Voting Initiative

The Massachusetts Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative may appear on the ballot in Massachusetts as an initiated state statute on November 3, 2020. The ballot measure would enact ranked-choice voting (RCV) for the following primary and general elections: state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional representatives, and certain other offices. RCV is a voting method in which voters rank candidates according to their preferences. The candidate that receives a majority of first-preference votes is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, and the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots are tallied as their first preference in the following round. The process is continued until a candidate wins a simple majority (50%+1) of the vote.

Election Day Registration | 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. 

Implementing Automatic Voter Registration

JCRC was one of 57 organizations to sign on to a letter to Secretary William Galvin, urging him to to implement recently enacted automatic voter registration legislation using a “back-end” approach at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. On Wednesday, October 16th, the MA House of Representatives voted to adopt an amendment requiring that the AVR statute be implemented as enacted in 2018 with a back-end process at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, unless otherwise prohibited by law.

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.

H.4622, An Act to provide short-term relief to families in deep poverty - Click here to read JCRC's testimony
(Sen. DiDomenico / Rep. Decker)

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.

An Act promoting housing stability and homelessness prevention through a right to counsel pilot program in MA in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency (Sen. Sal DiDomenico)

An Act to ensure right to counsel in eviction proceedings
(Sen. Sal DiDomenico/Rep. Chynah Tyler)

An Act establishing a right to counsel in certain eviction cases (Rep. Rogers​/Rep.Day​​)
One of the most important ways to fight homelessness is to prevent evictions. 93% of tenants facing eviction in court have no representation. Housing stability is one of the most pressing issues that our Commonwealth is facing. These bills ensure the right to counsel in eviction proceedings.

More Priorities

Gun Violence Prevention | Click here to read JCRC's testimony 

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.