ByState Rep. Liz Malia and State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz |
The 70th anniversary of the law that enabled the state to treat chronically ill individuals at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital seems like an apt time to consider how our understanding of public health has changed, and how pressing the need for access to health care remains. Chapter 770 of the Acts of 1949 formalized the City of Boston and the Commonwealth’s agreement to transfer “up to 15 acres of…Franklin Park...Any land conveyed under this act shall, from and after such conveyance be held for the state department of public health, which is hereby authorized and directed to construct on such land a six-hundred bed hospital for the care of persons suffering from chronic disease, including a nurse’s home, outpatient department and other facilities.”
Policymakers then understood a general link between poverty and chronic disease incidence, which is why they agreed to build a public teaching hospital and outpatient facilities offering affordable diagnosis and rehabilitation services in the Commonwealth’s biggest city. Since then, diabetes and addiction have overtaken tuberculosis as public health threats, but the poverty-health link is clearer than ever now. We see our poorest neighbors often struggling with multiple chronic conditions (infectious and otherwise) that are impossible to treat when their housing is unstable or nonexistent. The infectious diseases that incubate among economically fragile, homeless and very sick populations rarely stay there, as San Diego and other cities have learned to their chagrin. I and others worked with state agencies in 2018 to meet your request for more transparent planning. I’ve spent the last year following the work of the Shattuck Hospital’s Community Advisory Board and neighbors to define a new service model that will ready the campus for another century of public health shifts. Those conversations between the state’s Executive Office of Health & Human Services, the Department of Public Health, and Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and the City of Boston’s Departments of Neighborhood Development and Health and Human Services and your neighbors are informed by links between poverty, housing and health. At almost every neighborhood meeting I attend with you, and in others across districts, the most common questions raised are: how anyone can afford to continue living here?
State Rep. Liz Malia was recently honored at the State House for her work on child abuse prevention during the 13th Annual Step Up for Kids event, in which 578 shoes were displayed to represent the number of children abused or neglected each week in Massachusetts. At the event, held on April 3, the Children’s Trust announced that Governor Charlie Baker had declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month. “The shoes you see before you today represent real children who have experienced a childhood of trauma and suffering rather than happiness and health, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Suzin Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust. “We have the opportunity to put our resources into programs that we know can prevent child abuse so that all of Massachusetts’ children can grow up healthy and strong. My dream is that we will stand here one day with no shoes on these steps.”
At the event, the Children’s Trust honored Malia, D-11th Suffolk, was honored for her commitment to supporting programs that stop child abuse before it happens.
MassEquality will honor Massachusetts' seven openly LGBTQ state legislators, including state Rep. Liz Malia, at a ceremony this week. Along with the seven legislators, MassEquality will honor the Yes on 3 Campaign at the 2019 Beacons of Light Dinner and Icon Awards Ceremony on April 25 in downtown Boston. The Yes on 3 Campaign successfully defended Massachusetts’ transgender anti-discrimination law in 2018 via a statewide vote. The campaign will receive MassEquality's Community Icon Award. Along with Malia, the following Massachusetts legislators will receive Political Icon Awards: state Sen. Jo Comerford, state Sen. Julian Cyr, state Rep. Natalie Higgins, state Rep. Kate Hogan, state Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, and state Rep. Sarah Peake.
On Jan. 30th, the Massachusetts House voted against rules that would require the Speaker to give them enough time to read what they’re about to vote on and make the votes they take in committees publicly available. Despite how outrageous it is that the House would vote against these basic transparency measures, I’m thrilled that Jamaica Plain's new state representative, Rep. Nika Elugardo (D-15th Suffolk), is already proving herself an advocate for the people of our district when she stood up to leadership and voted in favor of transparency and accountability. However, my question remains: what was JP’s other representative (my representative), Rep. Liz Malia (D-11th Suffolk), thinking when she voted no? She voted against allowing reps ample time to read bills and amendments that they are voting on.
While Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected several proposed amendment's to House rules that would've provided more transparency to the public, they did approve an amendment by state Rep. Liz Malia that does address a transparency gap. Malia's adopted amendment requires the clerk to make all bills on the House docket available on the Legislature's website, which was not the case before the bill. Currently, the text of bills is only posted once proposed bills have been assigned a number and referred to committee. "Based on my bill filing and co-sponsorship-request experience over the last few weeks, it became clear to me, my staff, my constituency and many advocates that it would be a much easier process if everyone can see the dockets on the MA Legislature’s website, instead of having to ask someone with access to LAWS to look up the docket to learn if a member has or has not signed on as a cosponsor to a legislative petition," said Malia via press release. "It’s a minor, clarifying fix to a distinct issue that I believe will go a long way in helping us ALL work smarter, not harder."