It is early in the 2015-2016 Legislative Session on Beacon Hill and I am pleased to take this opportunity to share with you some of my activities, budget successes, and the news that I am honored once again to be appointed by Speaker of the House, Robert A. DeLeo, to serve as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities for the 2015-2016 legislative session. I am eager to continue working with my colleagues on the critical issues this committee oversees, including child welfare, juvenile justice, public welfare, and children and adults with physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities, in addition to serving my community.
Finally, I would like to thank my constituents for the honor and opportunity to once again represent you in the Massachusetts Legislature. If you have any questions, concerns or would like to know more about my work in the House of Representatives, you may contact my office at 617-722-2011, follow me on Facebook and Twitter, or check my website kaykhan.org, where you will find more information about the bills I have filed for the 2015-2016 session.
I hope you’ll take a moment to catch up on what I’ve been working on.
FY2016 House Budget Highlights
I am pleased to report that in April I was able to secure funding in several areas through the offering of amendments during the FY16 Budget debate in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Our debate in the House signaled an ongoing commitment to fiscal prudence and targeted investments in many areas. This continuing practice has resulted in Massachusetts retaining its AA+ bond rating, the highest in the state’s history. The House budget included no new taxes or fees and reduces its reliance on one-time revenue sources from the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, leaving the balance in excess of $1 billion. Some of my accomplishments in the final House budget include:
• Invasive Aquatic Plant Maintenance - $350,000
This funding is to handle the costs associated with the management of aquatic non-native plants in the Charles River lakes district and the Mystic River.
• International Institute of New England - $150,000
This funding is used for refugees seeking asylum in the United States experiencing extreme human rights abuses, who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.
• Nursing and Allied Health Workforce Initiative - $200,000
This will address the primary goal of a more educated and diverse nursing workforce with 66% of registered nurses at the BSN or higher degree level by 2020 and to be at 80% by 2025.
• Employment Services Program - $6.25M
An additional $6.25M for a total of $11.25M for the Department of Transitional Assistance that provides supports for young and expecting parents to complete secondary education and for clients of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to help move clients into employment.
• DCF Social Workers - $300,000
An additional $300,000 for a total appropriation of $201.9M to maintain the Fiscal Year 2015 investment in social worker staffing as recommended by the Child Welfare League of America for the Department of Children and Families. This appropriation will help to lower the caseloads as directed by the Legislature.
Teens Leading the Way
This year I have had the privilege of working with members of the group “Teens on Fire.” These young men and women have been lobbying for cosponsors to the bill I filed in January 2015 regarding teens with criminal records in certain circumstances being expunged rather than sealed. This bill would assist teens with completing their education, housing and job searches, giving them a second chance. This bill would hold these youths accountable, while providing opportunities to prevent recidivism.
Representative Khan with Senator Karen Spilka, Senate sponsor of the
expungement bill, along with members of Teens Leading the Way
Additionally, I hosted a panel with this group of young activists at the State House with my colleagues in the House and Senate, where we heard from experts and advocates of criminal justice reform, who focus on the need for reform regarding juvenile records. Panelists participating in the informational briefing included Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy Nechtem.
Sexual Abuse Task Force
I was recently selected by the Children’s Trust Fund to serve on the Sexual Abuse Task Force, established in the previous legislative session, and charged with, "developing guidelines and tools for organizations serving children and youths. The task force shall also develop a 5-year plan for using community education and other strategies to increase public awareness about child sexual abuse, including how to recognize signs, minimize risk and act on suspicions or disclosures of sexual abuse.” This task force will submit recommendations to the Governor and the Clerks of the House of Representatives and the Senate by December of 2015. In addition, I continue to serve on the Special Commission to Study the Commonwealth's Criminal Justice System established in 2011.
I recently participated in METCO Lobby Day at the State House and it was wonderful to meet with parents whose children are enrolled in the Newton Public Schools. METCO is an incredibly important grant program which the City of Newton participates in, is funded by the Commonwealth and has always been a budget priority of mine. It is a voluntary program intended to expand educational opportunities, increase diversity and reduce racial isolation, by permitting students in certain cities to attend public schools in other communities that have agreed to participate.
Unsung Heroine Nominee: Ruth Dain
Every year, State Representatives are invited by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women to nominate an Unsung Heroine from our own districts and this year I selected Ruth Dain from Newton. Over the past 30 years, Ruth, a born organizer, has shown true dedication to the children and families of Massachusetts. Throughout her career, with her talents she helped with funding needs for the Newton Family Daycare System and both founded and served as the Executive Director of Provider Resources Inc., a 501C3 non-profit which trained family childcare providers in basic principles of nutrition. Ruth has served as the Campaign Manager and advisor for numerous Newton candidates for elected office on many occasions, as well as the Ward 2 Chair for the Newton Democratic City Committee. I am looking forward to celebrating her triumphs on June 17th at the State House.
Parent Child Home Program
I was happy to co-sponsor and offer remarks at a briefing for the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) at the State House. This program provides families with a mentor that models behavior for parents and teaches them how to work with their children's mental and developmental needs. The program's oldest site is located in my district of Newton and, unfortunately, has had their budget cut in half from 9c cuts, meaning that several families will no longer be able to receive services from the Newton location. Investing in programs like PCHP is a sensible, long-term investment. I am hopeful that through the budget process funding will be restored.
Family Impact Seminar
I sponsored a Family Impact Seminar along with my colleague Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, developed by Clark University's Mosakowski Institute, to provide state-of-the-art research to strengthen families. The briefing focused on reforming foster care as well as child protective services, and featured three of the country’s leading experts to discuss what can be done to improve the lives of children and their families who are involved with the Commonwealth’s Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Commonwealth Cultural Awards
As an advocate for funding of the arts and humanities, I was thrilled to present the Highland Street Foundation in Newton and its Executive Director Blake Jordan with the 2015 Commonwealth Award for Cultural Philanthropy. Through its Free Fun Fridays and other programs, Highland Street Foundation has opened doors to thousands of Massachusetts residents to our museums, theaters, music halls and science and nature centers. By doing so, Highland Street has also given our organizations a chance to expand their audiences by demonstrating that their programs are for families of all backgrounds and interests, spreading their generosity and vision throughout the Commonwealth.
Rep. Khan with Massachusetts Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker
and Commonwealth Award honoree Blake Jordan
Recent Honors and Awards
I was honored to be recognized, along with some of my colleagues in the legislature, by the Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition for leadership and advocacy on behalf of persons with mental Illness and their families. I also received the “Legislator of the Year” award from the Massachusetts Association of Nurse Anesthetists on April 11, 2015, as well as the "Excellence in Nursing Research Award" from the Massachusetts American Nurses Association on April 10, 2015. Furthermore, I recently attended the MASOC/MATSA (Massachusetts Adolescent Sex Offender Coalition/Massachusetts Association of the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) Conference on April 10, 2015 and was honored to receive the “Outstanding Legislator Award” for legislative leadership to stop sexual violence.
Mental Health Caucus: Parity Laws
Rep. Denise Provost, Rep. Michelle DuBois, Rep. Christine Barber, Rep. Liz Malia,
Sen. Joan Lovely, Rep. Kay Khan, Laura Goodman and Rep. Ruth Balser (L-R)
On May 14th, as Co-Chair of the Mental Health Caucus, I hosted a training session along with my Co-Chair, Representative Ellen Story, on mental health parity laws, which included guest speakers, my Newton colleague Representative Ruth Balser and Health Law Advocates Staff Attorney, Laura Goodman. Parity, first introduced in Massachusetts in 2000 and federally in 2008, require most health plans to provide comparable coverage for both behavioral health and medical services. Ensuring that citizens can access adequate treatment for mental health and substance abuse is critical. There has been a lot of work done to enhance Parity with many new developments that provide better access to services for mental health and substance abuse treatment. This presentation provided an important overview of these laws and information on how legislators could help ensure their constituents are receiving equal coverage for all health needs.
Legislators Ride the T Day
In March, I participated in Ride the T Day for Legislators and boarded the 7:47am Commuter train at the Auburndale station which was quite an eye-opening experience! It was a completely packed train with no seats and a challenge to hold on if you are of shorter stature. It was certainly an informative experience, one that I will be sure to keep in mind as we examine and attempt to fix the critical challenges facing the MBTA.
I am incredibly flattered to be acknowledged, alongside Newton resident, Lisa Rosenfeld, Counsel to the House Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, in a recent publication "Can't Catch a Break" by advocates and authors Susan Sered and Maureen Norton-Hawk, of Suffolk University. I have worked on issues relative to women who enter our criminal justice system throughout my time in the Legislature and this book documents the day-to-day lives of women in the Boston area, as they struggle to survive sexual abuse, violent communities, ineffective programs, discriminatory local and federal policies and incarceration, all while providing policy analysis with a personal account of how marginalized women navigate an unforgiving world.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my work here in the State Legislature. I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day and a great start to the summer!
Eleventh Middlesex District
House Chair, Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities