Editor’s note: The following questions were emailed to Malia and she replied via email.
Q: You have been an elected state representative since 1998, what do you feel have been your biggest accomplishments?
- Criminal Offender Record Information Reform (CORI) (Ch. 256 of 2010) – This CORI reform limits who has authorized access to CORI records and how records are accessed, and allows offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes to seek parole halfway through their sentences. Employers and landlords cannot ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” on initial applications.
- Prescription Drug Abuse (Ch. 244 Acts of 2012) – Physicians and dentists who prescribe opiates now have to check a patient’s MA Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) record before writing an initial prescription. The PMP has existed since 1992, but enrollment was voluntary.
- 14 Days of Detox and Step-Down Services (Ch. 258 of Acts of 2014) – The passage of this law requires insurances companies to pay for at least 14 days of detox and clinical stabilization services (CSS) without prior authorization, significantly increasing access to behavioral health treatment.
- Substance Use Civil Commitments Shifted Out of Prison (Ch. 8 of Acts of 2016) – The passage of this legislation is a fundamental shift in how we treat Massachusetts residents with behavioral health needs. This new law ends the practice of civilly committing women who need treatment for a substance use disorder to MCI-Framingham.
- Substance Use, Treatment, Education and Prevention (Opioid bill) (Ch. 52 of Acts 2016) – This landmark bill addresses the deadly opioid and heroin epidemic plaguing the commonwealth. It requires hospitals to conduct comprehensive substance abuse evaluation for individuals in emergency room care suffering from an apparent opiate overdose. It also provides connections to voluntary treatment if necessary. The bill also limits initial opiate prescriptions to a 7-day supply for adults, and limits all opiate prescriptions for minors to a 7-day supply, both with exceptions.
- Motor Vehicle License Suspension (Ch. 64 of Acts of 2016) – This most recent sponsored criminal justice reform legislation repeals the automatic suspension of driver’s license of anyone convicted of a drug offense, eliminates reinstatement fees, and shields driving records that reveal CORI information from public view.
Q: If elected, what do you want to accomplish in your next term?
- 30 Days of Substance Use Treatment Coverage – I will continue to work toward expanding automatic insurance coverage for acute detox and other addiction treatment services from 14 days to 30 days. Make treatment available until people are stable and able to avoid cycling repeatedly through detox.
- Bridgewater State Hospital – I will continue to push for necessary reforms at Bridgewater State Hospital, a place where people who are committed or incompetent to stand trial are held and receive services, that prioritize a clinical model of care over incarceration.
- Children’s Mental Health – I will continue to work on children’s mental health access, specifically the availability of acute care beds. There are few outpatient treatment options for children and not enough inpatient beds when they require hospitalization, particularly when the child has a co-occurring condition.
- Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice Reform – I hope to see the changes below among the criminal justice reforms we take up in the session; designing effective community-based interventions to divert folks with behavioral health needs to treatment before they enter the corrections system, and provisions that ensure adequate behavioral health care for inmates and post-release individuals.
- Public Schools – I hope to help increase funding for STEAM and de-emphasize standardized tests so schools can focus on critical learning. I will hold charter schools accountable to the spirit of the 1993 education reform law: innovate and collaborate with public schools to scale curricula and supports that help students achieve.
- Living Wages – I will continue to advocate for the “Fight for 15” and paid family and medical leave, so that everyone can earn a living wage and the rights of workers are protected by increasing job security.
- Youth Jobs – I will work to increase state funding opportunities for early employment programs, and expand awareness of existing programs that train students in the clean energy, healthcare, and information technology sectors.
Q: Affordable housing is one of the biggest topics in Jamaica Plain and across Boston. As a legislator, what can you do to help provide affordable housing in the city?
- I recognize the need for more affordable housing in Jamaica Plain and the Commonwealth. In 2016, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts awarded over $59M in housing subsidy funds, including federal HOME funds and state capital funds, across the 26 projects. For the 11th Suffolk District, that translates into the Walker Park Apartments, new construction in Egleston Square of 49 new units of affordable family housing, 8 units at 30% AMI (Urban Edge Housing Corporation) and Wayne at Schuyler, a housing preservation project near Franklin Park of 74 units of affordable family housing, 8 units at 30% AMI (Cruz Corporation).
- In 2016, I worked with elected colleagues and CityLife/Vida Urbana and City Realty to align rents with federal affordability guidelines for Section 8 tenants in City Realty Group-owned buildings.
- I will continue to advocate for additional outreach strategies that will help the Boston Planning & Development Agency ensure a smooth development process for both residents and developers.
Q: What do you think are the biggest issues in Jamaica Plain? And how are you addressing them?
- Speed of Development and Displacement – I am working with my elected colleagues, the City, local community development corporations, the Neighborhood Alliance comprised of 11 associations and groups, and other stakeholders to thoughtfully consider the living document that is the JP/ROX PLAN and subsequent zoning amendments in a way that addresses current needs and community input.
- Public Safety – This summer marked the 21st year of BHA South Street Hot Dog Nights where we partner with BPD’s E-13 Community Service Officers to make sure residents are connected and receive appropriate attention. I will continue to encourage and support crime watch groups and/or neighborhood associations of any sort.
- Affordable Child Care – I secured another one-year extension (until June 30, 2017) for the Shattuck Child Care Center to stay on Shattuck Campus while the Center is looking for a new home in the community.
- Community gardening – I am working with legislative delegation to secure needed legislation for a long-term lease for Hinton State Lab Community Garden, and strongly advocating to bring the Oakdale Community garden parcel under the care and control of the Southwest Corridor Park.
Q: You have fought hard to improve our transportation system – what progress have you seen? And how do you hope to further improve the system?
- Orange Line Investments – The MBTA is the fifth largest transit system in U.S. with ridership of approximately 1.3 million daily passengers. The good news is, the MBTA has procured the replacement of 152 Orange Line vehicles (full fleet replacement and growth) by 2018. Such prioritized capital investments will support upgrades in anticipation of the car delivery, including improvements to track, signals and other facilities.
- Advocacy – I will continue to maintain a communication network between all stakeholders regarding ongoing issues around the Casey Arborway project as well as re-engage the state on their commitment to cede land at the Arborway bus yard to the City that could be used for affordable housing and other community uses. I am also advocating for the connection and extension of the Southwest Corridor Park (Pierre Lallement Bike Path) behind many of the new development projects along Washington Street and from Jamaica Plain into Roslindale.
- Speed Limits (Ch. 218 of Acts of 2016) – Through legislation I sponsored, cities and towns across the state can now opt-in to law that allows them to lower speed limits to 25 MPH in thickly settled districts and business districts, and to 20 MPH in safety zones.
Q: Please feel free to say anything else you would like the community to know.
- I’ve been endorsed by the Mass Teachers Association, Boston Teachers Union, Planned Parenthood League of MA, SEIU Massachusetts State Council, SEIU 888, SEIU 1199, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Massachusetts Nurses Association, and Democratic Ward Committees 11 & 19.
- On October 25 at 6 pm, local youth are invited to attend an internship and resume workshop at Roxbury Community College where The MA Clean Energy Center, the MA Life Sciences and the MA Tech Collaborative will share how college students can enroll in paid internships in leading MA industries. The goal of the workshop is to help students become more competitive in their paid internship applications. Space is limited for this event, so RSVP by October 24, 2016! For questions, please contact Arturo Natella at email@example.com or call 617-722-2060.
- On October 25 at 7 pm, to help kick off Open Enrollment, the MA Health Connector is hosting a Hidden Gem Tour event to highlight a local hidden gem in the community: Tres Gatos, 470 Centre St. JP, and tie it to the hidden gem of the Health Connector: affordable, easily-accessible health insurance. For more information about the Health Connector, please visit mahealthconnector.org
Q: How will you be voting on Question 1 and why?
A: I will be voting no because I do not support slots and never have. I don’t think expanded gambling in the long run is good for our society or economy.
Q: How will you be voting on Question 2 and why?
A: I will be voting no because the economics do not work, and lifting the cap on the number of charter school approvals (up to 12 each year) poses a real threat to the Boston public school system’s stability.
Q: How will you be voting on Question 3 and why?
A: I will be voting yes because I have always supported commonsense protections for animals, the environment, and food safety.
Q: How will you be voting on Question 4 and why?
A: I will be voting no because I oppose legalization of recreational marijuana in the Commonwealth by means of a ballot initiative written for and by the industry seeking to commercial the drug. We do have an obligation as a state to address this issue. If legalization is to occur, I believe that it must be done through the legislative process to ensure proper safeguards are in place. Marijuana is a drug that we must be able to regulate – who uses it, the dosages, and the implementation timeline.
Q: How will you be voting on Question 5 and why?
A: I will be voting yes because I agree with the Boston City Council’s approval to create a Community Preservation Fund to support affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space initiatives in Boston.