February 2013

Education

Yesi Orihuela —  February 28, 2013

As a daughter of immigrant parents, I know how important access to education is in order to keep moving forward in Massachusetts. I believe that access to quality education should begin before kindergarten and should continue through adulthood through community enrichment programs and job training. As a State Representative, investing in our state’s education program has been one of my priorities. I will continue to lead the charge in supporting education by:

  • Making Higher Education Accessible To Low Income Workers
    This session I filed House Bill 1063, An Act to improve the Educational Rewards grants program to assist low income workers. This legislation would reinvest state dollars in the Educational Rewards Grant so that low-income students who are enrolled in college less than part-time or are participating in a non-degree program can receive funding for their education. Such funding allows working students to continue training for high-demand, prosperous employment opportunities.

  • Funding Our Public Libraries
    I am a leader in the fight to keep high traffic libraries open, level funded and accessible for all residents. I know the special role libraries play in our community in providing access to educational resources and technology for low-income residents and young people alike.

  • Providing Access to In-State Tuition for Children of Undocumented Immigrants
    My parents taught me that hard work and a good education could make anything possible. I believe all young Massachusetts residents should have equal access to higher education, regardless of their immigration status. This is why I am a lead sponsor of legislation that would grant children of undocumented immigrants the same access to in-state tuition at Bay State colleges and universities as all other residents.

  • Supporting Access to Pre-K and Universal Kindergarten for All Children
    During my tenure in the legislature, I have been an ardent supporter for increased funding directed to early education programs, especially for children in low-income households. I know that a solid education is built in and out of the classroom, and that is why I continue to promote policies that strengthen community enrichment opportunities. This session I filed House Bill 387, An Act to secure child safety in family childcare systems, which aims to create stronger protection and protocols within the early home childcare certification process. Providing a safe educational environment for young children is a priority of mine. This session I also filed legislation that would make owning and operating an early childcare and education center more affordable through making available an earned income tax credit for early educators.

Job Growth and the Economy

Yesi Orihuela —  February 27, 2013

Keeping small businesses alive means keeping our state’s economy alive. Protecting the rights and benefits of workers and their families is critical to the function and development of a healthy economy. As current House Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses, I have made job creation for working-class families one of my priorities. I will continue to pursue an aggressive agenda that will foster the development of a business environment that encourages job creation and innovation. I will continue to do my part to grow our economy and put more people back to work by:

  • Enhancing Our Economic Competitiveness
    A longtime supporter of legislation that will increase economic development in Massachusetts, I am proud of my record of crafting legislation that furthers the state’s commitment to a creative economy. By providing municipalities the tools to quickly begin development projects, we are creating more employment opportunities in our community and across the state. I am committed to enhancing our economic competitiveness through funding training for middle skills jobs as well as creating a more streamlined process to give local residents an opportunity to work on construction jobs.

  • Protecting Workers
    Last session I led the way in passing House Bill 3404, An Act establishing a temporary workers right to know, which provides temporary workers the right to know what wages they can expect, any safety equipment they may need and who to call if they are injured on the job. Providing temporary workers with this vital information allows them to better negotiate terms of their employment and the ability to legally dispute unlawful employment practices. Providing temporary workers with important information about the terms of their employment is just one step towards protecting all workers. Every one knows a friend or a relative who has been dismissed from their work without advanced notice for reasons out of their control. Service workers are especially susceptible to last-minute layoffs. I am working to ensure service workers will be able to retain their jobs, regardless of a change in contractor, for at least a transition period of 90 days. I will continue to listen to residents of the Commonwealth and fight for protections unique to the 21st Century workforce.

  • Investing In Our Future
    I was the lead sponsor last year of the program that funds jobs for more than 7,000 young adults in Massachusetts. Funding programs that allow students of low and middle class backgrounds exposure to hands-on practical skills is an important step to preparing our youth for future employment. I am committed to expanding Youth Summer Jobs programs to reach additional employers and job fields.

  • Starting a Conversation Between Small Businesses and Government
    As part of last year’s economic development legislation, I crafted a “one-stop-shop” small business web portal for small business owners and individuals interested in opening a business. Launched earlier this year, this website compiles a complete list of public and private resources that direct entrepreneurs and business owners to services such as counseling, technical assistance, and access to capital. As Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Small Businesses, I hosted “Small Business Listening Tours” across the state to learn more about the major concerns small business owners face across our communities. My knowledge of the concerns of small business owners will continue to inform me as I work toward creating a more conducive environment for economic growth in our communities.

  • Ensuring Our Small Businesses Thrive In Our Communities
    I was a key voice in the small business regulatory reform in Massachusetts., which was signed into law in 2010. Through working with the Patrick Administration, I have seen to it that more than 150 regulations have been changed or removed to provide relief to small businesses. Additionally, I am proud of my role in the creation of the Small Business Banking Partnership (SBBP), which shifts state treasury bonds away from offshore investment accounts and back into small community banks, who then pledge to support small businesses through loans. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. I continue to voice my support for regulatory changes and innovative programs that will make owning a small business easier in Massachusetts.

Partnering with law enforcement and citizen crime watches, I will continue to push for more community policing funds to target trouble spots and prisoner release programs that help ex-offenders integrate back into society without disruption to our neighborhoods. I am committed to being a voice for my community on this issue through:

  • Calling for Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform
    Our first step towards comprehensive criminal justice reform is making sure those suffering from mental health and addiction issues are treated by train professionals rather than incarcerated. By creating opportunities for individuals to get back on the right path, we can then focus on keeping our communities safer. We can work to keep criminals off the streets. By advocating for smoother transitions of ex-offenders re-entering the community, we can create paths towards more productive and healthy lifestyles. I will continue to work with my fellow members of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus to put an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violence drug offenses in addition to supporting transition-service oriented system to prevent re-incarceration.

  • Supporting Ex-Offender Re-Entry Transitions
    I was a member of a coalition effort to include reforms to the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system. The new reforms make it easier for employers to access CORI records, while providing protections to ex-offenders who have been sentenced due to a minor crime so that they will have a better chance at re-entering the workforce.

  • Providing Support For Individuals Suffering From Mental Health Issues
    I will continue my work to provide the same number of mental health facilities for women, both public and private, as there are for men. By providing treatment to women suffering mental health or substance abuse issues, we can reduce the number of relapses of patients who are in the most need of services.

  • Taking Steps to Protect Children involved in Court Proceedings
    To protect children in the court system I have recently filed legislation that provides child advocates in probate and criminal court proceeds to receive a full day of training to recognize indicators of domestic abuse. This will bring Massachusetts up to the National standard and allow judges to make more informed decisions with the knowledge of accurate information regarding histories of domestic abuse.

 

Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry’s campaign for State Senate is up and running on all cylinders and building big momentum with key endorsements in advance of a special primary election now set for Tuesday, April 30.

Rep. Forry greeted voters at Ashmont Station on Monday. She is flanked by volunteers Deirdre Havershaw, Craig Galvin and Chris Shannon of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which has endorsed Rep. Forry's candidacy for Senate.

Rep. Forry greeted voters at Ashmont Station on Monday. She is flanked by volunteers Deirdre Habershaw, Craig Galvin and Chris Shannon of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which has endorsed Rep. Forry’s candidacy for Senate.

In the last week, the five-term state lawmaker and her campaign team have opened a campaign headquarters, coordinated an aggressive, district-wide nomination signature drive, and conducted door-to-door canvass operations that deployed dozens of volunteers across the First Suffolk district.

Forry’s campaign scored a flurry of key endorsements this past week, including the Ward 15 Democratic Committee, MassEquality, and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters— which has joined Carpenters Local 67 in supporting Forry’s candidacy.

“We are off to a great start,” said Rep. Forry, who has served in the state Legislature since 2005. “These endorsements are a huge boost to our efforts. I am honored to have the support of these organizations, which contribute so much to the vibrant civic life in our communities.”

“We’re running a grassroots campaign,” Rep. Forry added. “Over the next two months I intend to meet as many of my future constituents as possible to let them know about my accomplishments in the Legislature and about my vision for our district moving forward. I am personally knocking doors, visiting businesses and greeting commuters outside of T stops. We are hitting events all over the First Suffolk district, from Mattapan Square to Broadway.”

Over the weekend, Rep. Forry attended more than a dozen district events, including three ward caucuses in South Boston, Mattapan and Dorchester. She addressed the ward 6 and 7 Democratic committees at South Boston’s Curley Community Center before making it back to Dorchester in time to address the Ward 15 Democratic Committee. The Ward 15 committee voted to endorse Rep. Forry’s candidacy for Senate following their meeting.

Rep. Forry addressed a ward caucus at South Boston's Curley Community Center on Sat., Feb. 23.

Rep. Forry addressed a ward caucus at South Boston’s Curley Community Center on Sat., Feb. 23.

“Even though my current House district does not include Ward 15, I have built strong relationships across the city and I have worked hard to earn their support,” Rep. Forry said. “I am proud that the Democratic activists in Ward 15 are in my corner.”

Team Forry also got a big lift from two major organizations that endorsed her candidacy in recent days: MassEquality, the state’s leading advocacy organization for ensuring the rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which represents more than 22,000 men and women across the region.

“We are thrilled to endorse Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry in this special election for State Senate,” stated Kara Suffredini, Executive Director of MassEquality. “She has been a champion for the civil rights for all people and an unwavering, powerful voice for the LGBTQ community throughout her career in the Legislature. Rep. Forry played a pivotal role in the debate to ensure that our hard-won rights remain secure in the Commonwealth. She will add an important new progressive voice to the State Senate.”

“Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry has been a tremendous ally in the State House for the Carpenters and for working families in Massachusetts,” said Chris Shannon of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “Linda has always been there for us when we’ve needed her. She understands the vital role that our hard-working members play in the local economy. She always has our back and we are proud to stand with her in this campaign for State Senate.”

In other campaign developments:

• Rep. Forry is now officially a candidate for State Senate, according to city and state election officials. Scores of volunteers collected well in excess of 700 signatures so far and the city of Boston certified more than the 300 required to make the ballot.

• The Forry for Senate campaign opened its headquarters last week at 100 Hallet Street— an office building in Neponset in the heart of the First Suffolk district. The office is located right next to the Keystone Apartments and Florian Hall— a key polling location. The office has ample room to conduct large volunteer trainings and phone banks, several of which have already been held in the space.

Scores of volunteers gathered more than 700 signatures to nominate Rep. Forry for State Senate over the last several days.

Scores of volunteers gathered more than 700 signatures to nominate Rep. Forry for State Senate over the last several days.

• The Forry campaign has been updating its growing base of volunteers on Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook site has many photos of the candidate and her team at work: http://www.facebook.com/ldfforboston. The Forry campaign office can be reached by phone at 617-766-6149.

Rep. Forry is a native Bostonian who was born and raised in the First Suffolk district and has lived within the Senate seat’s boundaries her entire life— first as a youngster growing up in Uphams Corner and today as a mom and homeowner in Lower Mills. Elected in 2005, she is currently the House chairman of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business and has been the architect of several key legislative achievements in recent years, including new laws aimed at reducing health care costs for small businesses, protecting temporary workers from unfair hiring practices and funding community-based projects aimed at stimulating new jobs across the state.

She and her husband Bill Forry are raising their four children in Dorchester. Linda is a graduate of St. Kevin Grammar School, Monsignor Ryan Memorial High School, and Boston College. She is presently a candidate for a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (2013).

Affordable Housing

Yesi Orihuela —  February 25, 2013

Our cultural landscape requires development in order to enhance its diversity and improve its well being, while ensuring that we are providing housing for a range of incomes and family sizes. I will continue to prioritize transit-orientated developments (TODS) that are located directly near bus, T, or commuter rail stations which will provide housing for residents who require access to public transportations, as well as revitalize the neighborhoods they are built in. Through working with the Patrick Administration and municipal officials, I will focus on:

  • Developing Our Neighborhoods
    For nearly a decade, I worked with the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. Here I developed on expertise on how to generate economic development that will strengthen our communities while preserving the character of our neighborhoods and allowing for more affordable housing opportunities. We know that in order for a community to grow, a community must be a healthy and affordable place to raise a family. I will continue to work with my colleagues on Beacon Hill to ensure that all cities and towns across the Commonwealth meet at least the 10% affordability requirement.

  • Preventing Foreclosure
    I was successful in seeing to the enactment of legislation that helps negate the effects of foreclosed homes in our community. I am fighting to assist more than 100,000 homeowners by working to pass legislation that aims to streamline a process for homeowners to work with banks and receive mortgage loan modifications if possible. I am committed to increasing home values in our community and not letting the effects of foreclosure sweep our neighborhoods.

Energy and the Environment

Yesi Orihuela —  February 24, 2013

Clean and green energy is necessary for the health of our planet, or families, and our economy. Funding renewable energy source is a way to create sustainable green jobs – the type of jobs we should be investing in – and help to reduce energy costs for small businesses. Furthermore, parks, open spaces, bike trains, and walk paths in urban areas such as Boston improve the lives of Boston’s residents and are something I intend to support by:

  • Creating Green and Open Spaces for City Residents
    I have been committed to seeing to the completion of the Neponset Greenway Trail. Last year, we celebrated the opening of the Walter Baker Pedestrian Bridge, one small piece of the Neponset Greenway Trail, and this year the Department of Conservation and Recreation will begin construction of the beginning of the entrance to the trail in Mattapan. The Neponset River Greenway will expand outdoor access to residents in urban areas, and will also lead to expanded transit access. I have also fought for years to try to bring 6 million dollars in federal funding to clean up the Shaffer paper site.

  • Supporting Smart Growth
    Through my role as Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses, I oversaw the passage and of legislation that reauthorizes the Community Preservation Act, providing “smart growth” program for communities to preserve open space and history sites. The Community Preservation Act also helps to enable affordable housing and create outdoor recreational facilities. I look forward to continuing to advocate for smart growth in all 351 towns across the Commonwealth, especially in the 1st Suffolk District.

Election Reform

Yesi Orihuela —  February 22, 2013

There is an obvious need to educate our voters, especially in immigrant and low-income communities. Campaigns tend to focus on telling these communities to vote, pushing one candidate or another, and sometimes passing out poll-cards aimed at telling voters who to vote for. If we are to work to increase turnout and political participation, we must educate people about why electoral participation is important. I will continue to develop a more accessible electoral process through:

  • Advocating For 21st Century Approaches To Elections
    I am working closely with MassVOTE and other organizations to change the way voter registration works in Massachusetts. By allowing our young people to pre-register to vote gives them more opportunities to be engaged in the political process. I support no-excuse absentee balloting, allowing residents with physical limitations, schedule conflicts, and lack of access to transportation to vote without having to stand in line at the polls on Election Day. I support allowing eligible citizens to register to vote online through secure websites, which is a cost-saving measure for cities and towns. I also believe our voter lists should be kept up-to-date by coordinating with the US Postal Service National Change of Address Database, which identifies voters who have may have moved since the previous election and updates the voter lists.

  • Making Our Districts Reflect Our Communities
    I am proud of the worked I accomplished last legislative session as a member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistrict, which created new Congressional and State Districts after a statewide listening tour. Through my commitment to creating more minority-majority districts, we were able to create the first minority-majority Congressional district in Massachusetts.

Civil and Legal Rights

Ken Donovan —  February 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Historically, the Commonwealth has become a beacon of tolerance for all residents, regardless of the color of their skin or whom they choose to love. As a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants from Haiti, I am a passionate supporter for the rights of people of color, immigrants, individuals with developmental and physical disabilities, and individuals of low-income backgrounds. I am proud to know that is in part because of me. In 2005 I spoke against an amendment that would outlaw equal marriage, and again in 2008 I lead the charge against those who would vote to repeal a discriminatory 1913 law that equal marriage opponents hoped would block out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts. The subject of individual rights should not be at the will of a ballot. I will continue to fight for civil rights through:

  • Protecting Access to Women’s Healthcare
    Eliminating disparities in women’s health care is one of my priorities. As you may know, women of color contract Sexual Transmitted Infections at a higher rate than white women. Low-income Latinas are twice as likely and black women are three times as likely to experience an unintended pregnancy as their white counterparts. I will continue to fight for equal access and reproductive healthcare. I am a mother of four children and know first-hand what needs to change in order for women to be more informed of their rights as new mothers. I filed legislation that requires hospitals to post documentation about mothers’ breastfeeding rights and related educational information. I also filed legislation that will oblige insurance companies to disclose to their clients that pregnant women have the right to Short-Term Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits.

  • Supporting Our Neighbors in the LGBT Community
    I am proud of my voting record on equal rights issues, which has received the endorsement of MassEquality. Last session I was proud to vote in favor of the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights bill, which protects transgender individuals from discrimination.

Public Transportation

Yesi Orihuela —  February 20, 2013

We cannot continue to allow our roads, bridges and public ways to deteriorate and our MBTA system to raise rates and reduce services, instead transit-orientated development has the capability of spurring economic growth. Sustaining and enhancing our transit system through new projects while also maintaining highly used roads and services and promoting alternative transportation opportunities will help ease congestion on our roadways, provide our residents with additional job opportunities, and will result in faster commute times into and out of downtown Boston. I support a progressive way of raising revenue to bring our public transportation system into the 21st Century through:

  • Rehabilitating Our Train Stations
    As a supporter of the redevelopment in and around Ashmont Station, it is rewarding to see the economic development that grew as a result of the reconstruction of the station. I am committed to seeing to the completion of other transit-oriented development projects and will continue to finance such projects to support smart growth in neighborhoods through the 1st Suffolk District.

  • Establishing More Commuter Rail Stops
    For years I have worked with my colleagues in the Legislature to create access to the Commuter Rail in my district. I pledge to work with the Patrick Administration to create more local stops along the Fairmont Commuter Rail. Creating more local stops in my district will lead to economic development and job growth, as well as easier access to downtown Boston for individuals who depend on public transportation.

Veterans Affairs

Yesi Orihuela —  February 20, 2013

Legislation was passed to expand the “Welcome Home Bonus” program which gives Massachusetts veterans expanded access to monetary bonuses upon returning from duty. This bill also establishes the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty to honor fallen service members and offers increased housing opportunities for veterans. For more detail on this law, please click here.