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News from Representative Kay Khan

Type:  Newsletter Archive 

 

Dear Friends,

It has been another busy few months on Beacon Hill and in the district. I am pleased to share with you some legislative successes including a bill I sponsored to modernize the nurse-midwives regulations and the passage of a balanced state budget. In the district, years of hard work to restore a historic bridge in Newton paid off this spring. I was also honored for my work by state and local organizations. 

I hope you’ll take a moment to catch up on what I’ve been working on in my latest newsletter.
 
Legislative Successes
  
 
 
Rep. Khan Announces Nurse Midwives Legislation Signed Into Law
 
It was a great start to 2012, as my own legislation, An Act Relative to Enhancing the Practice of Nurse Midwives, (H. 2369) was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on February 16, 2012.
 
This law amends Chapter 112 of the General Laws which governs the practice of nurse-midwives.  Previously, nurse-midwives were authorized to order tests and medications under a “supervising physician.”  However, this new law replaces the supervising physician language with language to reflect modern collaborative practice between nurse-midwives, obstetricians and gynecologists.
  
This law updates the General Laws and eliminates barriers to the use of nurse-midwives in Massachusetts by more accurately reflecting today’s practice arrangements with obstetricians-gynecologists.  Great news for practitioners and patients alike!

Legislature Passes Balanced FY13 Budget
 
In the House Budget, there was great support for the many crucial line items concerning the Commonwealth’s children, families and individuals with disabilities and because of this, nine out of my eleven filed amendments were adopted and included in the Legislature’s final FY13 budget.
 
The FY13 budget represents the Legislature’s continuing commitment to cities and towns, boosting investments in local aid, Chapter 70 funds for our public school districts, and the Special Education Circuit Breaker – the three largest sources of direct state aid to municipalities and public schools. 
 
The budget increases funding for local aid by $288.9 million over FY12 projected spending, including $899 million for unrestricted local aid.  Chapter 70 funding is increased to $4.17 billion with Newton receiving $16,173,152, ensuring that all school districts receive at least an additional $40 per pupil in aid.  Additionally, the budget fully funds the state’s obligation for the Special Education Circuit Breaker at $242 million for first time since FY08, ensuring that students with special needs receive the services and education they deserve.
 
In another effort to aid cities and towns, the budget directs $25 million from the state’s FY13 budget surplus to the state’s community preservation trust fund. This is in addition to language that strengthens the Community Preservation Act (CPA) by expanding the use of funds to rehabilitate and support existing outdoor parks, recreational centers and affordable housing.
 
As House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, I am pleased with our decision to not only increase general funding for education and municipalities, but also to provide funds to improve special education and guarantee transportation for homeless students. These decisions indicate a real dedication to children in our community.
 
 
House Passes Legislation to Support Family Child Care Providers
 
To kick off the month of June, I joined my colleagues in passing a bill that had been assigned to my committee, the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, and was given a favorable report through the legislative process.  This bill would improve the quality of child care services and give a voice to family child care providers across the Commonwealth who accept children with vouchers.
 
This legislation aims to improve quality early education and care by encouraging providers to obtain more education and training, to open up their homes to children in need of child care and making care more accessible for families across the state.  In doing so, H.3986, An Act improving quality in early education and care by family care providers, will create jobs for both providers and parents who may not have had the opportunity to previously work.
 
I was so pleased that my colleagues recognized the importance of this legislation and what it does for our children and families in the Commonwealth.  This bill will aid in job creation and give our families a sense of security by offering reliable and trustworthy child care while giving providers a sense of empowerment.
 
 
House Passes Bill to Cut Health Care Costs
 
Most recently, along with my fellow representatives, I helped pass legislation to diminish the burdensome costs of health care while allowing our world-renowned health care system to continue to provide high-quality services. The crushing cost of health care is resulting in lower take-home pay and less spending power for mortgages, rent, food and other necessities for thousands of us. This reform will save Massachusetts over $160 billion dollars over the next 15 years.
 
Some of the changes to the health care system in this bill include the promotion of health information technology and use of electronic health records to optimize efficiency. This legislation would also make available to consumers comparative price and quality information, and information from providers about services and payments. The bill provides consumers with new protections, including the patient’s right to appeal medical decisions made by their Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) doctor and the right to receive a second opinion from any provider.
 
Additionally, I filed an amendment that would remove the tax exemption on soda and sweetened drinks. The monies earned would have been allocated to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund. Unfortunately, this matter was not taken up for consideration, but I will continue to push this issue in the next legislative session. 

  

District News
 
 
 
 
Massachusetts Commission on the Status of WomenAnnounced Three Unsung Heroines from Newton
 
In a ceremony at the State House on May 16th, 2012, Newton residents Joan McGrath, Susan Heyman, and Beth Wilkinson were honored as members of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2012 class of Unsung Heroines.  The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference.  They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns.
 
I recommended Ms. McGrath for her outstanding contributions to the Social Justice Commission at St. Bernard’s Church, to the Ward 4 committee of the Newton Democratic City Committee, as a board member of the NDCC Executive Committee, and to the Newton community.
 
Congratulations to all three of these accomplished Newton residents for their well-deserved Unsung Heroines awards.
 
 
Rep. Kay Khan Holds Lower Falls Bridge Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
 
On Tuesday, May 8th, I was delighted to celebrate a very special Bridge Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Newton Lower Falls on the Trestle Bridge crossing the Charles River, connecting Newton and Wellesley.  After many years of working with many dozens of involved Newton residents on this environmental project, it was especially gratifying to see it come to fruition.
 
Thanks to the Governor Patrick's Accelerated Bridge Program of 2008, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and MassDOT were able to consider designing a plan for the restoration and reconstruction of this old rail trestle bridge crossing the Charles River in Lower Falls. The bridge became unusable and dangerous to the community after trains stopped running approximately 35 years ago.  After many public hearings, the design for the project was finally approved by the Newton Conservation Commission in May 2010.  Reconstruction of the bridge began in late fall of 2010 and was completed in May 2011.  Landscaping and screening continue, but thanks to the determined efforts of so many dedicated Newton residents, the bridge is now useable for pedestrian and cycling traffic.
 
Speakers and attendees of the ribbon cutting included Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley, Alderman Deb Crossley, Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, DCR Commissioner Edward Lambert, members of the Newton Bike and Pedestrian Task Force and many others from the City of Newton and the Town of Wellesley.
 
 
Awards, Appointments, and Special Events in 2012
 
Newton Conservators 2012 Charles Johnson Maynard Award
 
In May, I was honored to receive the 2012 Charles Johnson Maynard Award from the Newton Conservators (along with the Newton Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force), which recognizes efforts to improve biodiversity, habitat reclamation and natural resource protection.  This Award recognized the successful restoration and reconstruction of the old rail trestle bridge crossing the Charles River in Lower Falls.  What was once an abandoned and dangerous bridge is now a lovely green space, providing recreational opportunities along the Charles, and an improved habitat for wildlife.
 
 
Arc Legislator of the Year
 
In March, The Arc of Massachusetts honored me with the “Outstanding Legislator of the Year” award at the 34th annual legislative reception hosted by The Arc and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC).  The Arc and the MDDC are among the most passionate and effective organizations in advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities on Beacon Hill, and it was a great honor to be selected for this prestigious award.    
 
I am currently serving my second term as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.  Throughout my time as Chair, I have been an unwavering voice for the disability community, and I am proud of my record of working with my colleagues in making important strides in the name of equality.
 
 
Crime and Justice Commission
 
As many of you know, I am one of the legislature’s leading advocates for crime and justice policy and have a long record of successful advocacy on behalf of juveniles, incarcerated women, and the mental health needs of many of our incarcerated population.  Most recently, I served on the Criminal Justice Policy Commission, looking at ways to prevent crime by implementing data-driven, evidenced based public safety reforms that protect citizens in our cities and towns, reduces recidivism and saves taxpayer dollars.  I continue to participate as an official observer of this commission and look forward to seeing a report with recommendations and legislation, which is due by March 31, 2013.
 
 
Northeast Juvenile Firesetting Conference
 
To kick off May, along with my Conference Co-Chair Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), I held an informational briefing at the State House with The MA Juvenile Firesetter Stakeholders Group.  The Group wasestablished by Fire Marshal Coan and Attorney General Coakley to address the ongoing issue of and interventions for juveniles who set fires.
 
The following week, I spoke at The Northeast Juvenile Firesetting Conference in Natick. The Conference began in 2006 in response to a need for collaboration, training, and shared resources for people in all fields working on juvenile firesetting in Massachusetts and the Northeast.  Each year the conference strives to address topics relevant to our multi-disciplinary attendees and to provide workshops that reflect current best practices in firesetting assessment and treatment.
 
The Conference brought together over 250 fire service, education, mental health, state and child protective service agencies, burn care providers, law enforcement and juvenile justice professionals from the Northeast and across the U.S.  This conference explored new ideas and best practices to strengthen and protect families that are affected by this issue.
 
As a Psychiatric Nurse and Committee House Chair, I had the opportunity to offer remarks at this event. It was a privilege to meet so many talented people who have devoted themselves to limiting the frequency and effects of this devastating phenomenon.
 
 
Rep. Khan Hosts Eating Disorder Briefing
 
In March, I had the pleasure of hosting an event with the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) to educate policy makers and the general public on early intervention, including the possibility of adding eating disorders to required school health screenings.  Speakers included Beth Mayer, LICSW President of Multiservice Eating Disorder Association (MEDA); Dr. Bryn Austin, ScD Associate Professor in Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children’s Hospital; and Dr. Jennifer Smith, Director of Outpatient Programs, Northampton Walden Behavioral Care. Attendees also heard remarkable personal stories shared by those who have suffered from this disease and by their family members.
 
About Public School Screenings for Eating Disorders
 
In American high schools, 30% of girls and 16% of boys suffer from disordered eating. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.  Eating disorders can have a devastating impact on children’s health, causing severe illness and even death. Eating disorders impact every organ system in the body, including cognition.  The emphasis on early intervention leads to better treatment outcomes and is the most effective prevention mechanism.
 
 
Rep. Khan Hosts Organization of Nurse Leaders Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Event
  
In April, I was thrilled to host a special event for public policy leaders entitled: Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Event. Massachusetts was recently accepted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AARP into the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing State Action Coalition. Bringing together legislators and knowledgeable officials involved in this campaign was a powerful tool to raise awareness about this important movement.
 
Campaign for Action is an initiative designed to improve the quality of patient care by fully utilizing the expertise and experience of nurses - the largest segment of the Massachusetts health care workforce - and by enhancing their skills and capabilities.  
 
 
I hope that you have a safe and wonderful summer!
 
Sincerely,
 
Kay Khan