By Lauren Bennett
Representative Liz Malia came to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council meeting on January 22 to update the community on what she has on her legislative agenda for the new year.
Malia said that she is just coming off the deadline for filing legislation on January 18, where she filed 31 bills. There were over 6,000 bills filed between the House and the Senate, she said. Malia said some of the bills involve substance abuse treatment, affordable housing, lower barriers to employment, healthcare, and cost urban agriculture.
She said her personal priorities are working on legislation she’s worked on previously, including guaranteeing 30-day coverage for substance abuse treatment. A few years ago, legislation passed that forced insurers to cover 14 days of substance abuse treatment. Now, Malia is looking to add mental health issues to the substance abuse issues. “We don’t have the bridges to the programs we have,” she said. “Someone who’s in recovery needs about a year to get stable,” so Malia said that job readiness, housing, and so many other parts need to be in place to help people.
In addition, Malia is working on providing transportation for students enrolled in recovery high schools. There are five recovery high schools located throughout the Commonwealth, with one right in downtown Boston. A lot of students who need to attend these schools are not able to because they have no way of getting there. Malia said that working with the state to figure out a way to pay for transportation is high on her list, because the “outcome for kids who have gone to recovery high schools is fantastic,” she said.
Malia also has several co-sponsorship priorities, including banning conversion therapy, working on the carbon tax and renewable energy, and working with Senator Chang-Diaz on the education funding formula, which Malia said “started out with some good goals last year.”
She is also looking to work on healthcare finance as a whole, as well as safe consumption facilities, also known as safe injection sites. Malia said she realizes that there is a lot of controversy surrounding safe consumption facilities, but they’re “something that’s beginning to take a more central focus in public policy.” She said she’s had a lot of arguments with Mayor Walsh about safe consumption facilities, but he’s starting to give it another look.
She is also working on legislation around same day voter registration, as well as preventing employers from requesting a credit check when hiring.
Malia is the primary sponsor of (and is working with the Institute of Policy Studies on) the luxury real estate transfer fee so cities and towns can implement an excise tax. She is finding ways to raise money through some of the affordable housing mechanisms, as well as trying to pursue the philosophy of the millionaires tax, as there’s “a lot of interest in that,” she said.
She’s also working with the Department of Conservation and Recreation on things like the Arborway, and talking to MassDOT about the Arborway yard.
Malia told the community that she has office hours on the second Friday of the month in Grove Hall and the third Friday of the month at the JP library, and invites the public to come to her for information or any questions.