This page contains information on bills Senator Cyr has filed in the Massachusetts State Senate.
An Act relative to grandparents raising grandchildren (S.906): Would create a Children's Court pilot program in the Barnstable County probate court that would provide specialized interventions and guidance for matters involving children, including, but not limited to, children impacted by a parent's substance misuse.
An Act relative to families impacted by substance misuse (S.33): Would require data collection for Department of Children and Families (DCF)-involved families to determine how many children are DCF involved in connection with a parent or guardian's substance misuse.
- Directs Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to give special consideration to otherwise non-qualifying projects as part of a municipality’s percentage of subsidized housing for purposes of the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) list in cases where special circumstances are present. These include: a need for one bedroom units, higher than the statewide average home price, investments in regional projects have been made, and covenant housing on Nantucket.
- Increases flexibility for directing unused Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds towards housing.
- Defines 'tiny home', and requires that tiny homes be permitted in municipalities that permit accessory dwelling units, as long as the tiny home is not used for short-term rentals or seasonal housing, and meets certain specifications relative to setbacks, dimensions, and connection to a public water and sewer system.
- Allows accessory dwelling units without a special permit, subject to reasonable restrictions by the municipality.
- Allows DHCD to enter financing agreements with school districts, municipalities, and developers for the creation of affordable workforce housing.
- Gives DHCD the first right of refusal on foreclosures due to a tax lien to assist the owner or take title to the property for use as affordable housing.
- Allows municipalities to implement a bifurcated property tax.
- Allows municipalities to implement a property tax exemption for year-round rentals to low- and moderate-income households.
- Allows a municipality to create a property tax exemption for a unit that is rented on a yearly basis, and occupied year-round, for an amount not to exceed 150% of the fair market rent established by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for such metropolitan statistical area.
- Establishes a special commission to study the building code, fire code, health code, and sanitary code and report to the legislature the impact of these codes on the development of affordable housing.
- Establishes a statewide transfer tax on property sales where the property value exceeds $2 million.
- This bill will direct the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) to establish and administer a Trust Fund for the benefit of regions, communities, and neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures.
- In addition to any monies from Massachusetts state government sources, the Trust Fund will be authorized to accept mortgage payments from borrowers when a court finds that a supposed mortgagee cannot substantiate its claimed right to receive them. Mortgages transferred to the Trust Fund will be monitored for such traditional prime lending characteristics as principal of no more than 80% of the present day value, and no prepayment penalties. The bill will take effect immediately upon enactment.
Would allow accessory dwelling units as of right, provided that towns have the authority to regulate ADUs as a short term rental. A city/town cannot prohibit or require a special permit for an ADU within the main structure of a single-family dwelling, with many provisions. This does not address detached accessory units on the property (e.g., a garage). Minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet, subject to reasonable dimensional requirements, unit must be clearly accessory (less than 900 square feet or ½ floor area of principal dwelling – whichever is smaller); municipality may require principal dwelling or ADU to be owner-occupied; municipality may prohibit or restrict short term rental of ADUs, and municipality may limit total ADUs to 5% total non-seasonal single-family units.
Would allow judges, in their discretion, to impose a bond requirement on plaintiffs who file abutter appeal cases if the judge thinks the case lacks merit and is being used merely to delay a housing development. These frivolous abutter appeals cases can severely impact and delay housing development projects that have city approval and are ready to move forward but cannot because of neighbors who wish to stop the project. By allowing judges to impose a bond, frivolous abutter appeals lawsuits would be discouraged while ensuring the right of abutters to bring legitimate concerns about a development to court.
Would require that if a municipality already has an Open Space Residential Development (OSRD) ordinance, the municipality must meet certain general requirements. These include: an easier way for developers to “prove” they are building the same number of homes, laying out homes to protect natural resources, and permanent preservation of 30-60% of developable land. If a municipality does not have OSRD, an owner proposing 5+ homes in district with minimum lot size 30,000 sq. ft. or more may use the cluster option set forth in this second part of this section. OSRD is an alternative to conventional subdivisions—it allows the developer to build the same number of homes on smaller lots and permanently preserve the remaining land.
This legislation aims to make it easier for first-time homebuyers to save for a single-family home in the Commonwealth by allowing any individual to open an account with a financial institution and designate that account, in its entirety, as a first-time home buyer savings account. Individuals are able to contribute up to $5,000 to the account each year, saving up to $50,000 for the costs associated with purchasing a first home. The account is tax deductible each year, providing individuals with additional savings for a down payment, realtor fees, or closing costs.
Would establish a trust fund for affordable housing on Martha's Vineyard that could receive contributions from towns wishing to dedicate revenue to the trust fund.
Would ensure that older adults in the middle income are able to access and afford home care services and supports available through the State Home Care program by proposing to raise the income threshold for subsidized services to the state median income. It also proposes to ensure that no one at or below median income pays more than 60% of the cost of their care plan, and links the affordability of care to avoidance of institutional placements.
Would provide nursing home staff with career advancement opportunities, promote a supportive work environment, and would create a pathway to a living wage by establishing a $90 million wage pass-through for front-line workers, including Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs), nurses, dietary, laundry, housekeeping, activities and social service staff, and by requiring the state to fund an annual direct care add-on tied to the Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) care inflation factor used by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Would direct the Commissioner of the Blind to create a registry of people whose visual acuity is found to be 20/60 or less in the better eye. The registry will be used to determine the extent to which visual impairment impacts residents of the Commonwealth. It would also inform those not eligible for services from the Massachusetts Commission of the Blind of alternative resources.
An Act for community empowerment (S.1945):
Allows municipalities to enter contracts for/fund renewable energy projects in order to help stabilize energy prices and purchase more renewable energy. Would support renewable energy projects by granting municipalities the ability to enter into long-term, financeable contracts on behalf of all residents, and businesses in the community through a democratic process. First, a community chooses to make use of Community Empowerment through a democratic process, such as a town meeting. Renewable energy project proposals are then chosen by the community through a public process involving the Select Board, town energy council, town council, and/or the community electric aggregator. Once a proposal is chosen, the community enters into a Community Empowerment contract with the project developer. This contract enables the project developer to receive the financing necessary to build such project. Once the project is operational, electricity customers would see included in their bill a credit or debit related to their participation in Community Empowerment.
Ratepayers should not be subject to surprise fees and maintenance costs from their electricity providers due to private utility poles, posts, wires, fixtures, or other appliances. This bill mandates realtors disclose private utility information during home sales, and ensures that utility companies notify ratepayers as to whether their poles are privately owned on their utility bill. This legislation will also offer ratepayers a vehicle to compel utility companies to take over maintenance of private poles through the Department of Public Utilities.
Would exempt solar panels from local property tax in cases where the solar panels benefit a municipality or governmental entity in either Barnstable or Dukes County.
Would improve the customer experience and the efficiency of the solar market by making small yet significant changes to the interaction between a project owner (host customer), offtakers, and their utility. This bill establishes guidelines for timely bill crediting and problem resolution, increases the frequency with which changes to Schedule Z are made, and requires a utility to obtain the host customer’s written consent before the utility is allowed to purchase net metering credits.
The bill will create a special state-wide commission to design, standardize, and draft suggested guidelines for compliant solar energy system installations within historic districts by December 1, 2020. The commission allows representatives advocating for the preservation of historic districts to explicitly document concerns in regard to solar panel installations while respecting the autonomy of the property owner. By amending section 7 of chapter 40C, Historic District Commissions (HDCs) will be required to provide written notice of a denial of a solar energy system application within 14 days of its filing, publicly provide rationale for the denial referencing the state guidelines as decided by the state-wide commission, and recommendations to improve the chance of approval upon resubmission.
Requires that before starting a large wastewater project, the relevant municipality must notify the electrical utility. The utility must survey the project area for the reliability of electrical distribution lines, review both repair and replacement schedules for electrical lines in the project area, and assess the resiliency of electrical transmission lines relative to climate resiliency.
An Act relative to net-zero housing (S.1829):
Would direct Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to study pathways to promote the development of net-zero housing as part of the effort to reduce statewide emissions. The study would examine the potential for grants, tax credits and other methods of stimulating the development of net-zero housing, and policies being employed by other states and municipalities. DOER would report an evaluation of the viability of a state-wide net-zero housing promotion program.
An Act to promote employee ownership (S.1630):
Would provide a tax deduction in the amount of capital gains from the sale of stocks into an employee stock ownership plan.
Would expand the Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) by directing Economic Assistance Coordinating Council to establish a program to provide tax credits to businesses that create and retain new full-time employees in seasonal communities. Currently, the EDIP program only offers these credits if there are capital expenditures for expansion as well.
This bill would ensure that all workers are informed of how their earnings stack up against the minimum wage. With each paycheck, employers would be required to provide a written comparison of each employees' hourly pay compared to the hourly fair minimum wage. Providing this information would be of minimal expense for employers, as it requires only a straightforward calculation, and would be simple to automate with most payroll services.
An Act relative to government efficiency (S.1828):
Would encourage government agencies and entities to identify policies, programs, and operations where applying behavioral science insights may yield substantial improvements in public welfare, program outcomes, and program cost effectiveness, develop strategies for applying behavioral science insights to programs, rigorously test and evaluate the impact of these insights, and strengthen governmental relationships with the research community to better use empirical findings from the behavioral sciences.
The Trump Administration’s decision to open offshore drilling, exploration, and development along the East Coast poses a serious and immediate threat to our ocean ecosystems and coastal economies. This bill bans offshore drilling, expansion, exploration, development, and production in state waters, and prohibits any onshore infrastructure that supports offshore drilling.
Creates a fee for every spent fuel rod assembly held in wet storage (a pool of water above the reactor). As the spent fuel is moved into dry cask storage, the fee ends. The bill spells out specific uses for this fee, but I am open to amending that schedule in order to use this money to help ensure that Pilgrim provides proper support in transition for workers at the plant who will soon lose their jobs.
Priority legislation of the Sierra Club, this bill enables municipalities to further regulate the use of pesticides beyond existing state regulations. As it stands right now, only the state has the authority to determine which pesticides are acceptable to use. This legislation gives municipalities control over what chemicals are being used on their land.
This bill would allow the Department of Public Health to continue to make assessments against sites where volatile nuclear materials remain after generation of electricity to the grid has ceased. Enactment of the legislation would also incentivize the facility to move spent fuel quickly from a volatile spent fuel pool to on-site dry cask storage, a significantly more secure storage technique that will reduce the need for state oversight.
Would require the Commissioner of Food and Agriculture to consult and concur with the Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Public Health when rendering a decision on an adjudicatory hearing. Currently, the Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Public Health (or their designees) sit on the pesticide board and advise on adjudicatory decisions, but lack any final say on the Commissioner of Food and Agriculture’s decision. The Commissioner of Food and Agriculture would need to obtain the approval of the other two commissioners on cases regarding groundwater sources of drinking water.
Authorizes municipalities to implement a bifurcated property tax.
An Act to mitigate snowbird relocation (S.1631):
This would raise the estate tax exemption amount from $1 million to $2 million in 2021, and directs the Department of Revenue to adjust the rate table to make this change revenue neutral at the time of its implementation.
Would direct the State Lottery Commission to revisit the local aid distribution associated with lottery revenue, to give special consideration to the percentage of total lottery revenue collected from the municipality, median household income in the municipality, and the financial needs of local public schools.
Would create a local option for a property tax exemption for senior citizens that cannot pay their property taxes on a fixed income.
EQUITY & JUSTICE
- This bill will require state and county correctional facilities to collect data on voluntarily disclosed sexual orientation and gender identity of prisoners placed in restrictive housing.
- The bill will:
- Add sexual orientation and gender identity data to preexisting solitary confinement data collection laws
- Collect data on victims of sexual violence held in restrictive housing
- Create policies and procedures for the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data with community stakeholders
- Add two additional community members to Special Commission on LGBTQI Health and Safety of Prisoners.
- This bill will create section 98B in chapter 272 of the General Laws to define “disability” and “service dog” to be in accordance with the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990” and its related amendments implementing regulations. Furthermore, “service-dog-in-training” and “service-dog trainer” are formally defined to exclude alternative definitions.
- The bill will allow business owners to request decals from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development stating that service dogs are welcome and misrepresentation of a service dog is a violation of Massachusetts law. Additionally, the bill provides business owners with a brochure detailing permissible questions, and acceptable answers, to determine whether a given dog can be considered a “service dog.” If a misrepresentation of a “service dog” occurs, inclusive of displaying any form of identification stating or implying “service dog” status, any police officer or animal control officer may investigate and issue a citation of a civil infraction, punishable by 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities to be completed in no more than 6 months, or by a fine of no more than $500.
ARTS & CULTURE
An Act commemorating first landing day (S.1827):
Would commemorate the events of November 11, 1620, the day the Mayflower made landfall in what is now Provincetown. November 11th, First Landing Day, holds a special place in American history as the date of the first landfall made by the Mayflower pilgrims in North America, as well as the date of the signing of the Mayflower Compact.
An Act relative to an arts license plate (S.2065):
Would create a new revenue stream for the Cultural Council, while also providing a platform on which to showcase selected art. The optional arts license plates will be available to those vehicle registrants who choose to pay a little extra to support local artists. It is important that we appreciate the contributions made by artists to our local communities and economies, and that we continue to support the flourishing Massachusetts arts scene.
This bill would reduce the requirement of annual mandated postural screening for all students in grades 5-9, and instead require the screening at least once of students grades 6-9. This is a law more than 30 years old when not all students had access to health care and orthopedic surgical intervention for mild spine curves was more involved.
This bill will modestly increase licensing fees (in most cases by $10) that fund prevention activities, including family case management, housing inspections, and code enforcement. These fees have not been increased since they were established more than 25 years ago. The bill also codifies definitions of lead poisoning, increases income tax credits for lead abatement, and increases penalties for housing discrimination.
Would create the Community Health Center Transformation Fund and include $15 million annually to community health centers, based on financial need and to improve and enhance the ability of community health centers to serve populations efficiently and effectively, to support health disparities reduction initiatives that address the social factors that influence health inequality, to fund infrastructure investments necessary for the transition to alternative payment methodologies, including technology investments in data analysis functions and performance management programs, such as systems to promote provider price transparency which are necessary to aggregate and analyze clinical data on a population level; Provide loan forgiveness or loan repayment programs for clinical staff, including but not limited to, physicians, nurses, optometrists, psychiatrists and other behavioral health clinicians, and dentists; Support efforts to expand the service area of community health centers to communities that lack adequate access to similar levels of community-based primary and preventive care; improve coordination of community care delivery, and encourage partnerships and resource sharing among community health centers located in close proximity to one another.
- This bill establishes a 75% excise tax on wholesale prices of all vaping products and devices and a ban on e-cigarette and vaping advertisements on public property.
- A excise tax of 75% on all wholesale prices of vaping products would discourage teens and young adults from purchasing the product by increasing cost. A 75% wholesale tax is comparable to the tax already levied on cigarettes, and 10-20% less than taxes already put forth by other states (for example, Minnesota taxes vaping products at 95%). By enacting similar regulations on vaping products as are already in place for tobacco products, we will be ensuring that the severity of these products is acknowledged, and decrease use among teens and young adults without creating a barrier to access for those who choose to use e-cigarettes and vaping products as a cessation tool. 30% of the revenue from this excise tax will be placed into the Community Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Trust Fund as established by Chair Garlick in last year’s opioid bill.
This bill takes a comprehensive approach to strengthening our safety-net hospitals and community health centers through payment reform and additional funding for the Community Hospital Revitalization Trust Fund. It also seeks to reduce burnout and turnover of hospital workers by banning mandatory overtime while better engaging the entire healthcare team in planning for the delivery of optimal patient care.
- Would require any hospital proposing closure or discontinuation of health services to provide evidence of support, non-opposition, or evidence of having notified and provided the opportunity for comment from affected municipalities before providing the Department of Public Health (DPH) with the notification of closure as required under current law. Any notification provided before this feedback is obtained shall not constitute proper notification.
- Charges DPH with determining whether the discontinued services are necessary for preserving access and health status in the hospital’s service area, requires hospitals to submit a plan for assuring access to such necessary services following the hospital's closure of the service, and assure continuing access to such services in the event that DPH determines that their closure will significantly reduce access to necessary services.
Would establish basic safeguards for patients required to undergo step therapy by allowing patients and providers to have access to a transparent and expedient appeals process which will support patients and their providers in making decisions based on best treatment options and a patient’s medical history and characteristics.
This bill would require the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) to produce a report comparing the “single payer benchmark” with the actual health care spending in the state for the previous year, indicating whether the state would have saved money while expanding access to care under a “single payer” health care system. If, after several years, the “single payer benchmark” outperformed our actual health care spending, the Health Policy Commission would be responsible for using CHIA’s report to develop a “Single Payer Health Care Implementation Plan” and submit it to the Legislature for consideration.
Would provide benefits for pregnancy-related procedures and coverage for lactation support by qualified lactation care providers, including, but not limited to, lactation care and services as well as breastfeeding equipment.
This amendment would protect, under the Good Samaritan statute, those who distribute or use narcotic testing products to assist an individual in determining whether drugs contain toxic substances. Narcotic testing products include, but are not limited to, fentanyl testing strips.
This bill addresses the potential harm of non-ionizing radio frequency radiation by increasing consumer awareness. It would mandate all cell phone producers to print a clear and distinct warning on the packaging of their phones informing consumers about this type of potentially harmful radiation.
Would establish a special commission to research the impact of electromagnetic (EMR) and radiofrequency (RF) radiation on consumer protection, public health, and technology in the Commonwealth. This commission would be instrumental in providing guidance to Massachusetts residents relative to cell phone use, RF exposure and wireless technology.
Would amend the emergency consent statute to add prevention services to the healthcare that minors may consent to, without parental permission. Under existing law, minors without parental consent, including unaccompanied homeless youth, face additional barriers to accessing prevention services, such as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
This bill studies mandating out-of-network insurance coverage of treatment and prevention and updates HIV routine screening and record-sharing laws.
Would increase transparency and requirements around the amount of risk-based capital (RBC) held by carriers. Currently, the surplus of Massachusetts insurers is higher than both the minimum statutory standards and the minimum RBC standards that the state’s Division of Insurance (DOI) uses for monitoring purposes. This would require carriers to report to the DOI the percentage of downside risk transferred to each certified risk bearing provider organization. Would direct the DOI to establish a formula for determining the percentage of reserves to be transferred on an annual basis.
Would require both private and state health insurers to cover medically necessary surgeries that functionally repair or restore craniofacial disorders. While this ensures that medically necessary surgeries are not denied as cosmetic, the bill still protects the ability of insurers to deny coverage for surgeries that are cosmetic in nature. Covering craniofacial corrective surgery will guarantee that victims of such disorders have access to affordable treatment. Without this coverage, the cost of craniofacial corrective surgery is simply too high for many of the people who need it most, and their health suffers from lack of access.
Would allow children to have sunscreen in school without a prescription.
Would eliminate the language which excludes Dukes County Sheriff from the same compensation as the other twelve Sheriffs in the Acts of 2009. The Dukes County Sheriff performs the same tasks and duties as other sheriffs. This would allow them to raise the income of support staff and retain valuable non-union higher ranking administrative personnel, vital to the operation of the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office.
Would allow the Barnstable County Retirement Board to purchase property.
Would place natural resource officers in Barnstable County in Group 4 if they have similar duties to a law enforcement officer of the department of fisheries, wildlife and recreational vehicles.
This legislation grants Nantucket the same protections that 63 other coastal communities in Massachusetts are already afforded – the ability to protect and steward the habitat off their coastline. Protection of squid, herring, and other baitfish are essential to the long-term viability of all fishing off the coast of Nantucket. Commercial, charter, and sport fishermen are important members of the year-round communities on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod.
Would include private utility lines within the scope of the common amenities covered by these provisions; create a clearly defined process for calling a meeting of property owners for the purpose of establishing an owners’ association and/or a maintenance process has been included in the current bill; and require certain basic information regarding an owners’ association or a separate maintenance process created pursuant to the statute to be recorded at the registry of deeds. Also establishes a framework for the enforcement of a lien for unpaid maintenance and repair costs.
Allows the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) to make separate license tiers available for medical marijuana in a way that mirrors what is available to recreational marijuana licenses, and would direct the CCC to set requirements for recreational marijuana retailers to notify customers that they do not sell medical grade marijuana.
This bill would protect the confidential information of marijuana establishments, and would also clarify the definition of horticultural for tax purposes by adding marijuana products under the definition of horticulture.
Would direct the commission to issue regulations governing host community agreements and may review, regulate, and enforce any host community agreement under this section.
This bill would allow municipalities to authorize social consumption through by-laws as an alternative to a referendum.
The bill will create a commission by appointing the following: the Secretary of State or a designee, who shall serve as chair; 1 member of the Senate, whom shall be appointed by the senate president; 1 member of the house, whom shall be appointed by the speaker of the house; and 2 persons appointed by the Governor, 1 of whom who has participated as a one-day solemnizer, and 1 of whom shall be a representative of the Justice of the Peace Association.
Would do the following relative to retired educator benefits: immediately increase the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) base from $13,000 to $18,000 and over time raise the base to align with Social Security’s maximum allowable benefit for an individual worker (that figure was $33,456 in 2018), freeze municipal retiree health insurance premium contribution rates at the rate paid on the day of their retirement, and cap out-of-pocket expense for non-Medicare eligible retirees.
Would add a Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists (MOSES) seat and a Boston Police Department Forensic Group seat to this newly created Forensic Science oversight committee. Prior to the Criminal Justice Reform Bill that was signed in April, MOSES had a seat on the Forensic Science Advisory Board.
This special legislation enables James G. Clothier to receive the pension that he was promised by the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board in 1993. In 2003, the Teachers’ Retirement Board revoked Mr. Clothier’s pension, even though he had already retired. The teachers’ retirement board is responsible for correcting this error, and this bill would take the steps necessary to help Mr. Clothier receive the retirement benefits promised to him.
Would permanently authorize charities to auction alcohol at fundraising events.
Would require that if a governmental agency enters into a trust or joint purchase agreement, a board and steering committee shall be established. Such board must include members of the appropriate public authorities, a minimum of one quarter (25%) of the members shall come from labor representatives, elected from a list of representatives nominated by the collective bargaining units, and a retiree from one of the governmental units.
A legislative hearing is one of the first steps a bill must undergo in the process of becoming law. A public hearing affords all interested parties the opportunity to speak in favor or in opposition of a bill through the submission of testimony.
Testimony can be given in person or in writing, and it is one of the best ways for the public to ensure that their voices are heard.
Testimony can be submitted directly to the chairs of the committee to which the bill is assigned, or through my office.
To track a piece of legislation and learn when a public hearing is taking place, click here.
To find more information about committees and their appropriate contact information, click here.
Testimony should be written in the form of a letter, addressed to the chairs of the appropriate committee.
A testimony template is available for download here.