FLURRY OF BILLS, VETO OVERRIDES PASS AS LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS

REP. ULTRINO JOINS COLLEAGUES TO RESTORE FUNDING FOR VITAL PROGRAMS

BOSTON – As the 2015–2016 legislative session came to an end on Sunday, July 31, Representative Steve Ultrino (D – Malden) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing critical legislation that invests in the state’s economy, allows record levels of clean energy development, expands access to health care, improves municipal governance, and takes a first-in-the-nation stance to ensure pay equity. The Legislature also responded to Governor Baker’s vetoing of important state programs by restoring funding to dozens of line items, including public housing, education, public health, the arts, and assistance for the needy.

“The last few days have been an incredible capstone to my first term as Malden’s state representative,” said Representative Ultrino. “I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished, so excited to continue this work next session, and so honored to be representing my community. We’ve just taken some historic steps forward, and I’m eager to see Massachusetts continue to grow.

The Legislature met late into the night on the last Saturday and Sunday of July in order to approve compromises on bills and wrap up overrides of the governor’s vetoes. The House and Senate approved compromise language on bills regarding economic development, clean energy, municipal modernization, transportation networking companies like Uber and Lyft, and on pay equity. They also agreed on language that expands health care coverage to cover treatments for Lyme disease and HIV-associated lipodystrophy. If the lipodystrophy bill is signed by the governor, Massachusetts will become the first state in the country to cover the ailment caused by certain medicines used to treat HIV.

“Massachusetts has always been a leader in driving policy changes across the country, from the U.S. Constitution to education, equal marriage and health care reform,” said Representative Ultrino. “This week, we can add first-of-its-kind pay equity legislation and coverage of a tragic HIV-related disease to the list of progressive policies that began in Massachusetts.”                                                                  

The House led the charge in overriding a number of vetoes, restoring funding to public schools, public health, public housing, and other programs. The Massachusetts Cultural Council also saw funding restored after advocates across the state, including dozens in Malden, lobbied legislators to support the arts.

Other overrides taken up and passed by the legislature restored major funding for the State University Internship Incentive Program, early learning, and state aid for public libraries. Massachusetts continues to establish itself as a top model for education for the rest of the country and the Legislature continues to dedicate itself to providing the necessary means to meet the state’s objective. School districts like Malden will see a funding boost after the legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of the special education circuit breaker line item.