The Massachusetts House: Failing on Civil Rights

It is shameful that the FY19 budget released yesterday from the Joint Conference Committee did not include any provisions from the Safe Communities Act. At a time when our country’s conscience has been shocked by family separation at the US-Mexico border, for the Massachusetts legislature to ignore provisions to protect undocumented families right here at home is deeply troubling. The Safe Communities Act, which was the product of rigorous crafting and compromise, is simply common sense: we should uphold constitutional protections for all our residents, and we shouldn’t allow state resources to be co-opted by federal enforcement. Despite this, Governor Charlie Baker continued to make false and misleading statements about the bill, and our Democratic House leadership followed his lead.

While the Massachusetts Senate bravely and overwhelmingly approved Senator Jamie Eldridge’s amendment to add these protections into the Senate budget, the House refused even to debate a similar amendment. When House and Senate negotiators met to create a compromise budget in conference, Speaker DeLeo told the press that it would be “difficult” to pass such protections despite the fact that a significant number of his own legislators – including members of his legislative team – co-sponsored the original bill. This is one more example of why the Progressive Caucus needs to be strengthened: to make sure that House leadership can no longer ignore the mandate of its own members on progressive legislation that would safeguard our liberties and our communities. As the candidate who has earned endorsements of multiple state and local level progressive organizations including Mass Alliance, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, Progressive Massachusetts and Woburn Welcomes, I am the only one in this race who won’t hesitate to add my voice in opposition to Speaker DeLeo and House leadership when civil rights are in question.  That’s why I’m asking for your vote on September 4: we can do better, Massachusetts, and we must.