The Fall State House Update
From Carolyn Dykema
Next Wednesday marks the beginning of the 2020-2021 MA Legislative Session. State Rep. Carolyn Dykema, now in her 6th Legislative Session, reflected on some of the progress and events of the 2019-20 session in her Fall State House Update newsletter. Among her efforts are 41 filed bills. The following are some newsletter highlights.
Enacted in November, the Student Opportunity Act (S2365) invests an additional $1.5 billion in the Commonwealth’s public schools over the next seven years. Monies will “give teachers the tools they need to help all students reach their full potential and allow more students to be able to get educational resources they need.”
Dykema joined colleagues to pass the Hands-Free Driving Bill (H.4203) early in December. This public safety bill requires the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving.
Set to take effect in February 2020, the Hands-Free Driving legislation:
- “Defines hands-free devices as those that engage in voice communications with and receiving audio without touching, holding or otherwise manually manipulating the device
- Allows for drivers to use mapping or navigation devices if they are affixed to the windshield or integrated into the vehicle and only involve a tap or a swipe
- Exempts use of electronics in case of an emergency and for first responders using devices as part of their duties
- Establishes fines for violators: $100 for the first offense; $250 for the second offense; $500 for third and subsequent offenses.”
Dykema, along with her House colleagues, passed a ban on flavored tobacco (H.413) in November. This ban of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes, is intended to curb teen nicotine use in the Commonwealth. “More than 80 percent of teens who have used a tobacco product started with a flavored product such as mint or menthol.”
A top priority for Dykema is addressing transportation issues. In November, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board voted to adopt a series of resolutions based on the recommendations of the Mass DOT’s Rail Vision Study Advisory Committee, where Dykema served as a legislative appointee. The following list includes resolutions “to move more commuters off roads and onto public transit”:
- Establishment of goals of rail transformation to be more “productive, equitable and decarbonized” using electrified service, 15- to 20-minute frequencies, and capital improvements designed to maximize ridership and improve reliability.
- Authorization of a “phase 1” electrification plan to begin the process of electrifying several lines in the Commuter Rail network.
- Establishment of a Regional/Urban Rail Transformation Office to oversee the process of meeting the goals of Rail Vision.
- Recommendation that the Legislature authorize public-private partnership use for transformative rail projects.
Do you have comments for the Mass DOT upcoming construction projects? Still in the early stages, planning is underway for several major, multi-year construction projects. “Most significant of these are the I-495/I-90 Interchange Improvement Project and the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project.”
Rep. Dykema encourages residents to “provide input to the Mass DOT project teams on any issues that you feel will impact our communities.”
Soon the House will begin floor debate on transportation funding and improvements. Dykema will be voting for a bill that makes “badly-needed investments in our road and rail systems.” Investments include:
- “Over $8 billion in capital authorizations for road and bridge projects
- $200 million for the Chapter 90 program that funds local roads in FY2021
- $790 million for rail improvements
- $330 million for regional transit authorities
- $475 million for climate change resiliency efforts.”
If you are interested in more details of Dykema’s Fall State House Update, you can email her to request an electronic copy: firstname.lastname@example.org