A Cape Cod Times article written on January 26th discusses the good work the Cape and Islands’ three new legislators have been taking part in since being sworn into office only three weeks prior.
Freshman Cape and Islands Lawmakers Get to Work
Cape Cod Times
January 26, 2017
BOSTON — The Cape and Islands’ three new legislators have been busy at work on Beacon Hill since being sworn into office only three weeks ago.
Last week, state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, state Rep. William Crocker, R-Centerville, and state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Woods Hole, filed their first legislative bills as elected officials. Collectively, the freshmen legislators filed 35 bills by the Jan. 20 deadline.
More than 5,700 bills – in excess of 3,700 in the House and 2,020 in the Senate – were filed, according to the State House News Service.
Cyr led the region’s rookie delegation with 27 bills filed, addressing affordable housing, environmental stewardship, economic development and public health.
The Cyr bills represented a mix of legislation he discussed on the campaign trail, those suggested by constituents, as well as some that were promoted by his predecessor, former state Sen. Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich.
“Our priorities are housing affordability, local expansion of residential property taxes for seniors who qualify for the circuit breaker tax credit, maintaining safety at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant and government efficiency,” Cyr said earlier this week.
As promised during the campaign, Cyr proposed a bill authorizing the establishment of first-time homebuyers savings accounts that would be tax deductible, making it easier for individuals to save for purchasing a home. He also filed a bill to establish the local option to reduce property taxes for seniors who qualify for the circuit breaker tax credit.
Other bills filed by Cyr include: an act that would exempt sunscreens from “drug” product designation, allowing them to be used in public schools; a bill to require health insurers to provide coverage for medically necessary repair or restoration of craniofacial disorders, including cosmetic surgery, dental or orthodontic treatment; an act requiring cellphone manufacturers to disclose radiofrequency safety notifications on the outside of product packaging; and a bill that would define “dry needling” as within the scope of the practice of acupuncture so that the same licensing standards would be required.
Crocker filed two bills that he said were inspired by interaction with constituents between the election and when he took office.
One bill calls for allowing eligible caregivers, with proper documentation, the opportunity to deduct up to $500 from their state taxes as compensation for expenses incurred while taking care of an ailing family member.
Crocker’s other bill would make the second and subsequent offense of assaulting a police officer a felony in the state.
“Currently assaulting a police dog and/or police horse is a felony, but assaulting a police officer while in the commission of his/her duties is a misdemeanor,” the bill reads. “This bill would give police officers the respect they deserve while they protect the communities they serve.”
“These two issues struck a resounding chord in the community,” said Crocker, who represents parts of Barnstable and Yarmouth. “Many people on the Cape have a family member they are taking care of and know it takes a lot of time and money.”
Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and parts of Falmouth, filed six bills, many which fall in line with his campaign’s focus on environmental protection and protecting marginalized communities.
The bills include: a proposal for creating a commission to study how ocean acidification affects commercially harvested shellfish in the state and make recommendations on how to mitigate ocean acidification; an act that would ensure the state complies with climate change guidelines adopted at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference; advocating mandatory bias training on a regular basis for the state’s law enforcement officers; and creation of a commission to review long-term treatment options for heroin and opioid addiction that would make recommendations of programs that lead to long-term recovery.
The bills will now be sent to various committees in the Legislature and eventually scheduled for hearings. Members of the House and Senate have yet to be assigned to committees, but Cyr expects the committees to be up and running in mid-March, with determinations on bills made by next winter.