BOSTON (SHNS) – The Senate sponsor of a bill to place a five-year moratorium on jail and prison construction said she hopes to bring that legislation to the floor after it earned a favorable report from the State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee.
Sen. Jo Comerford, who filed the bill with Rep. Chynah Tyler, highlighted the bill at a Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers virtual advocacy day last week, noting that it is one of several items on the organization’s legislative agenda.
Comerford said her bill (S 2030) is before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, “where my team and I are hoping to move it to the floor for passage.” Tyler’s bill (H 1905), meanwhile, remains in the hands of the Judiciary Committee, which has until April 15 to vote on it.
Over the weekend, supporters rallied in Speaker Ron Mariano’s hometown of Quincy to call for the House bill to advance.
“The time is right for social work, because the time is right for transformative policy and budgeting decisions in the commonwealth,” Comerford said at the advocacy event. Comerford, who has a background as social worker, also said she is “fighting for a pretty radical bill that would center racial health equity at every single level of government, a bill that would necessitate that every agency, every committee, every branch of government to ask this question — does this bill or spending priority help or hurt racial health equity?” “If it helps we lean in,” she said. “If it hurts, we pause.”
The Public Health Committee, which Comerford co-chairs, extended its deadline to report on that bill (S 1388) until Dec. 31, well after the July 31 end of formal lawmaking business and days before the two-year legislative session ends on Jan. 3, 2023.