Issues

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Housing

I'm out knocking on doors every day. When I ask voters what issue they’re most concerned about, 9 times out of 10 they say housing. We need a State Representative who is deeply versed in housing policy and who will be relentless in pushing the Legislature to use every tool in the toolbox to address the housing crisis.

I have worked on:

  • Legislation to preserve publicly assisted affordable housing, which became part of the state's expiring use preservation law enacted in 2009. This law, also known as Chapter 40T, is designed to preserve the stock of affordable housing in Massachusetts that is at risk of loss due to expiring affordability restrictions, and to protect tenants in these developments from displacement.
  • Bills and budget amendments to increase upstream homelessness prevention assistance and to improve housing assistance for children and families experiencing homelessness. These initiatives would help make families more likely to avoid displacement and stay housed by allowing them to access cash assistance prior to being in an incredibly dire situation, and would avoid unnecessary delays and burdens on families who are imminently at risk of homelessness or are experiencing homelessness, while promoting dignity and agency for families in their most vulnerable moments. 
  • Legislation to provide childcare and early intervention services to families in the shelter system. 
  • A bill that would authorize the City of Cambridge to establish a real estate transfer fee

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Boosting statewide housing production so that we can build deeply affordable housing as well as homes that are affordable across income levels.
  • Stabilizing rent and banning rent-setting software and other exploitative practices.
  • Requiring additional multifamily zoning around public transportation, enabling the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in every city and town, and allowing towns to adopt minimum affordability requirements by a simple majority vote.
  • Codifying the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) into state law and, through a gradual phase-in, make it available to all who qualify. 
  • Protecting eviction records, guaranteeing access to legal representation for low-income tenants facing eviction proceedings, and providing tenants in multi-family buildings the right to match a third-party offer when their homes are being sold. 
  • Allowing municipalities to offer larger property tax exemptions for qualifying seniors.

Climate Action

The climate crisis is here. We need to act urgently in order to mitigate and eliminate pollution, fully transition to clean energy, and ensure that our communities and infrastructure are climate resilient. I'll work with environmental advocates, labor leaders, and legislative partners towards a sustainable future that centers equity and justice. 

Kathleen at a depaving party

I have worked on:

  • Legislation to transition Massachusetts to 100% clean electricity by 2035 and 100% clean heating and transportation by 2045. The Clean Energy and Offshore Wind Law enacted by the Legislature included multiple provisions from this bill:
    • Requiring 100% of new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2035; 
    • Electrifying MBTA buses by 2040 and requiring RTAs to establish electric bus rollout plans; and 
    • Requiring new homes and businesses to be built with clean, electric heating & appliances, starting in 10 communities. 
  • Bills that would ban most single-use styrofoam containers and update the state’s bottle deposit system. 
  • Legislation that would ensure green jobs are good jobs, provide additional opportunities and benefits for displaced energy workers, and establish a Healthy and Sustainable Schools Office to offer apprenticeship training programs and prioritize hiring from environmental justice communities.
  • Legislation to create a clean fuel standard that makes cleaner fuels more affordable and polluting fuels more expensive.
  • A Cambridge home rule petition, which was signed into law, prohibiting homeowners associations and condo associations from restricting EV owners from installing charging stations.

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Building a cleaner and more equitable power grid by accelerating the development of offshore wind and solar energy, requiring utilities to assess and address potential risks, improving the Mass Save program, expanding networked geothermal services, and coordinating regional transmission and distribution upgrades.
  • Giving impacted communities a stronger voice in energy facilities’ siting decisions, incorporating environmental justice principles into stakeholder engagement, and expanding utility bill discounts for low- and moderate-income ratepayers. 
  • Establishing a Comprehensive Coastal Resilience Plan, investing in energy infrastructure from solar panels to community microgrids, and developing plans for floodplain management and extreme heat events.
  • Reducing traffic congestion and incentivizing more sustainable travel choices.
  • Restricting single-use plastics and PFAS, or “forever chemicals.”

Transportation

We need to fund the T adequately and ensure safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. I’ll fight for reliable public transit, safe streets, and a 21st century transportation system that will strengthen our economy, protect our environment and our public health, and help us build livable communities.

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Sustainably funding the MBTA and our Regional Transit System while prioritizing service improvements, expanding commuter benefits, and improving safety oversights. 
  • Implementing data-driven highway and auto safety measures.
  • Investing in infrastructure, from repairing structurally deficient bridges to building high-speed rail.

Economic Justice

Poverty is a policy choice. I'll work to help reduce poverty, make childcare more accessible and affordable, and secure fair wages, benefits, and training opportunities for workers. Certificate of Appreciation for Kathleen from the Lift Our Kids Coalition

I have worked on:

  • Legislation to advance pay equity by defining comparable work, which was enacted in 2016 as part of the Equal Pay Act. 
  • Amendments to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, FY23, and FY24 state budgets that led to increases to cash assistance programs of about 10% per year, as well as legislation to raise cash assistance grants by 25% per year until they reach 50% of the federal poverty and then increase grants each year to keep up with inflation. 
  • Bills to increase family stabilization through the Earned Income Tax Credit and to establish a Child and Family Tax Credit
    • The tax reform package enacted in 2023 increased the Earned Income Tax Credit from 30% to 40% of the federal credit and created a Child and Dependent Tax Credit of $440 per dependent.
  • Legislation to increase payments to family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) childcare providers to at least the state minimum wage and to update the state childcare voucher so parents can use the full ten daily hours for the combination of formal and FFN childcare that their schedules require.

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Boosting cash assistance grants more rapidly and then requiring them to be adjusted annually for inflation so that they do not lose their value over time. 
  • Further increasing and expanding both the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Tax Credit. 
  • Providing affordable and high-quality care options for families and significantly better pay and benefits for early educators.

Labor

I'm proud to stand with workers organizing for better quality of life, from Somerville municipal employees to Massachusetts State House staff. We can only achieve a fair and just society that benefits all working people by building the labor movement and advancing a broad social and economic justice agenda. 

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Ending wage theft by holding employers who steal from workers accountable, protecting employee whistleblowers, and granting the Attorney General greater authority to prevent wage theft and get justice for the workers who are victims of it.
  • Closing the prevailing wage loophole by requiring contractors to pay a fair rate to workers who complete off-site manufacturing. 
  • Ensuring that all workers in Massachusetts are earning fair, livable wages by requiring salary transparency, providing municipal employees with access to Paid Family and Medical Leave, and indexing the minimum wage to inflation.
  • Protecting gig workers from Big Tech's efforts to deprive them of basic labor rights like minimum wage, overtime, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and safety standards.
  • Guaranteeing shift workers' rights to rest, request specific hours, receive advance notice of work schedules, and access unemployment benefits. 
  • Standing with workers against union busting and corporate greed.

Health Equity

In my most recent State House role as the Chief of Staff for the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, I gained an invaluable education on issues from newborn screenings to green burials. Public health crises from maternal mortality to substance use disorder are devastating our families and communities, and the ongoing impacts of structural racism and wealth inequality are clear. We need to prioritize health equity and ensure that people are getting the care that they need, when and where they need it. 

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Putting people over profits and stopping private equity from looting our healthcare system.
  • Removing barriers to and providing funding for reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. 
  • Promoting harm reduction and substance use treatment, including overdose prevention centers, supportive housing, and public health solutions rather than criminalization and incarceration.
  • Providing MassHealth coverage for income-eligible children and young adults, regardless of immigration status, and for lactation consultant services.
  • Expanding access to ConnectorCare (the state’s subsidized health insurance program), eliminating or reducing co-pays for chronic conditions, increasing oversight of pharmacy benefit managers, and holding drug manufacturers accountable for addressing high drug costs. 
  • Developing our healthcare workforce so that it is culturally and linguistically reflective of the patients whom it serves.

Education

Every child deserves access to high-quality public education in safe and supportive schools. I'll fight for legislation to ensure green and healthy school buildings, an evidence-based, inclusive curriculum, and an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. Kathleen on her first day of pre-K

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Expanding affordable childcare, pre-K, after-school, and out-of-school programs and higher education opportunities. 
  • Updating the state's school funding formula (Chapter 70) to correct for inflation levels. 
  • Requiring robust emergency and evacuation planning as part of a student's 504 or IEP process and ensuring that school districts are in compliance with special education law.
  • Supporting school librarians and educators in selecting books and characters that portray the range of people in the school community in order to help students to both see themselves and learn about others. 
  • Promoting research-based curricula and instruction by providing grants for schools that select from a list of approved curricula and requiring graduate schools of education to include science-of-reading coursework in order to keep their accreditation. 
  • Prohibiting schools from excluding students based on dress code violations or other minor infractions. 
  • Creating healthy school environments through improved energy efficiency and ventilation. 
  • Providing educators and staff with fair wages and benefits, including professional development and continuing education opportunities.  

Transparency

The democratic process requires public trust and open deliberation. It's unfortunate that this has become a political football when what we really need is a culture shift, and I am committed to being part of that change.

I have worked on:
  • Giving as much advance notice for hearings as possible -- when I was Chief of Staff, the Public Health Committee consistently provided at least one week's notice for legislative and oversight hearings.
  • Supporting State House staff unionization and signing my own union card.
  • Sending weekly newsletters with updates about the legislative process, including summaries of bills and amendments and information about successes and setbacks. 
  • Including salary information in our State House job listings.

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Ensuring that members of the public can participate remotely in public meetings, receive detailed advance notice of committee hearings, and have access to public testimony and all recorded votes.
  • Implementing systemic reforms to the committee and stipend system in order to establish an equitable pay scale for legislators and a more democratic balance of power. 
  • Simplifying the process for obtaining public records while protecting constituent privacy. 

LGBTQIA+ Rights

The queer rights movement was my introduction to political activism. I know how recent and hard-won our progress is and I don't take any of it for granted. We also have more work to do -- Massachusetts just got a C grade in LGBTQ+ safetyKathleen at Somerville's Pride flag raising

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Expanding access to HIV prevention medication.
  • Ensuring that our schools are safe for LGBTQIA+ students and staff and are teaching the histories, roles, and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the history of this country and the Commonwealth.
  • Removing barriers to gender-affirming care and protecting providers.
  • Providing full legal rights to all parents and families. 
  • Reforming our criminal justice system to repeal homophobic and transphobic laws and to guarantee the health and safety of incarcerated LGBTQIA+ people. 

Immigration

I’m proud to live in a sanctuary city and in a right-to-shelter state. Also, as an American born in Canada, I'm deeply aware of how fortunate I was to automatically gain my citizenship through my American mother. Whether people come here fleeing persecution, pursuing higher education, or simply seeking a better life, our Commonwealth is all the stronger and more vibrant by welcoming them. 

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Ending state and local involvement in civil immigration enforcement, increasing immigrant access to court and police protection. 
  • Expanding comprehensive MassHealth coverage to children and young adults whose only barrier to eligibility is their immigration status.
  • Creating a streamlined pathway to full licensure for experienced, internationally-trained physicians in order to address acute physician shortages in Massachusetts.
  • Ensuring that state agencies meet the linguistic needs of our Commonwealth’s increasingly diverse population.

COVID

COVID-19 continues to impact Massachusetts residents, from those who are struggling with long COVID to the COVID-related deaths that occur every week. I’ll continue to communicate accurate, timely information in partnership with state agencies, work to provide access to rapid tests, and advocate for equity in all public health policies.A selfie of Kathleen wearing a mask in the State House

I have worked on:

  • Planning and staffing joint oversight hearings on children's vaccinations and testing.
  • Sending weekly email newsletters to the public and to the MA House of Representatives with updates on COVID variants, vaccines, testing, and treatment.
  • Developing policy recommendations based on discussions with healthcare providers, public health experts, vaccine developers, and test researchers. 
  • Ensuring that public schools received funding for rapid antigen tests.

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Funding free rapid tests and high-quality masks at public libraries, community health centers, and other accessible locations, with multilingual guidance for how to use them. 
  • Updating state regulations to require masking in healthcare settings, improve vaccination outreach efforts and remove structural barriers to vaccination, and set benchmarks for indoor air quality.
  • Enacting legislation to establish better research and care for long COVID.

Criminal Justice

The criminal legal system disproportionately impacts people struggling in poverty, people with behavioral health conditions, and residents who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. I’ll continue to work on legislation to prioritize public health over punishment, enhance youth justice, protect the rights of incarcerated individuals and end mass incarceration, and provide support for formerly incarcerated residents.

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for: 

  • Enacting comprehensive reforms to promote transparency, best practices, and better outcomes for youth involved with the legal system.
  • Ending mass incarceration, solitary confinement, overcrowding, and prison brutality.
  • Combating institutional racism in the correction system and ensuring that incarcerated people receive prompt and appropriate care for medical and behavioral health issues. 
  • Providing more programming and vocational education for incarcerated people and additional funding for re-entry services. 

Elections

Ensuring that our elections are free, fair, and secure is more important now than ever. Our democracy is strengthened by active participation, which requires removing barriers to access and working to guarantee that our voting systems are safe and reliable. 

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Enacting legislation to expand access to voting, from same-day voter registration to decoupling voter registration from the municipal census and enforcing polling place accessibility.
  • Combining mail voting forms to provide uniform mail voting applications, instructions, and other documents, without distinguishing separate forms for early voting by mail and absentee voting. 

Disability Justice

There can't be inclusion and equity in policymaking without disability justice. We need to continue pushing to expand access, prohibit discrimination, and ensure that disability leaders are part of the decision-making process.

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Prohibiting abuse and discrimination against disabled residents in the healthcare and court systems. 
  • Enabling family members and guardians to serve as paid caregivers.
  • Providing accessible and affordable housing, including accessory dwelling units, for people with disabilities and older adults.
  • Requiring robust emergency and evacuation planning as part of a student's 504 or IEP process and ensuring that school districts are in compliance with special education law.
  • Enforcing polling place accessibility.

Gun Violence Prevention

Gun violence is a public health crisis, one to which neither Massachusetts nor Somerville is immune. Although we have some of the strongest gun control laws in the country, there is still more work to do to update our laws and break cycles of violence. 

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Enacting legislation to update and strengthen our state's gun control laws. 
  • Funding organizations like the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, UTEC, Roca, and others that work to break cycles of violence by addressing trauma, building trust, and providing leadership opportunities with support and mentoring. 
  • Promoting gun buybacks and town halls to engage communities in violence prevention efforts. 

Seniors

I was grateful to learn about senior-specific issues while working for the late Rep. Alice Wolf when she served as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, and then to continue that education more recently as Chief of Staff for the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. In general, policies that benefit elderly residents in Massachusetts benefit all of us, from high-quality health care to affordable housing to accessible public transit. Kathleen and her grandmother

I have worked on:

If elected, I will fight for:

  • Ensuring that everyone in Massachusetts can access comprehensive, affordable, and high-quality health care.
  • Providing economic security, food security, and housing security for low-income residents including seniors.
  • Investing in equitable, affordable, and accessible public transit.
  • Delivering long-term care in the least restrictive environments possible while setting high standards for care workers' wages and safety.

Racial Justice

Structural racism has led to pervasive inequities in housing, healthcare, income, education, transportation, and criminalization. I’ll continue to prioritize racial justice in all of my legislative work because dismantling systemic racism requires systemic change. Kathleen at a vigil for George Floyd