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January 2018
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Community Newsletter - January 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Happy New Year! Welcome to a year of action and resistance. At the State House, 2018 starts the 2nd year of the state legislative session, and there is still a lot to do to get good bills over the finish line before the end of session. One of the first deadlines comes up in a few weeks, on February 7, when the majority of bills need to move out of their original Committee. If they don't, these bills will need to be re-filed next year.

I am working to get a number of bills over the finish line. One of my
top priorities is my bill addressing gas leaks, which protects consumers from paying for gas that leaks out of old pipes and does not make it to their homes (currently, consumers do pay for this gas!). I'm also working on legislation to encourage better price transparency to target high drug prices, one of the major costs in our health system. In addition, I am working on a bill drafted with District Attorney Marian Ryan to train salon professionals, including hair dressers and aestheticians, to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of domestic violence

At the same time, I am focused on pushing several bills that I co-sponsored. These include ensuring at $15 minimum wage and a fair tipped wage for all, banning conversion therapy, a bill to ensure confidential health information for consumers, steps forward on energy conservation and efficiency through RPS, and bills to support immigrants like Safe Communities. 

Finally, we are about to go into budget season. Please see the information below and let me know your top state budget priorities soon! 

I hope this newsletter provides you with information that helps connect you to the work being done at the State House to foster more activism. Please contact me with any suggestions, and feel free to share with a friend.

-Christine
Last month I had the opportunity to preside over an informal session
as Acting Speaker of the House. It was great fun and such an honor!
Bill Spotlight: Affordable Housing 
Securing affordable housing is a major challenge for many families and individuals in our region, but the crisis is particularly acute for low-income families. Many who have lived in Somerville and Medford for years are being displaced as rents continue to rise.  

I have filed two bills this session to address the housing crisis - H2237,
an Act for Equal Access to Housing through Local Zoning, and H3024, an Act for Preventing Discriminatory Land Use and Permitting Decisions. I am pleased that both of these bills are currently moving forward, as part of omnibus housing production and zoning bills.  

H2237 would require cities and towns to zone at least one district for multi-family housing, meaning 3 or more residential units or 2 or more buildings on the same lot. These districts must be suitable for children or seniors, and ideally would be near transit centers or local amenities.  

This bill would ensure that cities and towns keep local character, while creating more housing affordable for working and middle class families. More multi-family housing means a decreased environmental impact compared to large-lot homes, and allows more land for public spaces. 

My bill is now part of a larger housing production bill, H3845, and is before the House Committee on Ways and Means. 

H3024 addresses the housing shortage by making it unlawful for land use decisions to discriminate against affordable housing simply because the developments include lower income residents. This means that communities can limit development due to other issues, like environment or traffic, but not because it’s housing that is more affordable.

Some of our current housing shortage is due to restrictive local zoning regulations and land use decisions in cities and towns that impede the development of all but single family homes on large lots. This bill is part of H2420, the omnibus zoning reform bill. 

Given all of these opportunities, I am hopeful that we will continue to move forward legislative changes that shift to more housing being built, particularly for families, people with disabilities, and people with lower incomes.  
Budget Season is Here
Recently, you may have heard that Governor Baker agreed to release FY18 funds for local projects, including funds appropriated for these important programs in our community:
 
- $100,000 to add a crosswalk on Alewife Brook Pky between Dilboy and Capen Ct in Somerville

- $100,000 for Housing Families' after-school program for homeless children in Medford

- $50,000 for more improvements to MacDonald Park in Medford

- $100,000 to support Teen Empowerment

- $350,000 for aquatic invasive species control, which keeps the Mystic River clean and healthy

 
I'm glad these funds will go to our important community partners soon, but the work doesn't end there. Budget season has come again, and it is time to begin working on FY2019 funding priorities. If you have suggestions for programs needing state funding, please let me know.

As I develop priorities for my fourth budget season at the State House, I remain committed to supporting state funding for many important programs that impact our neighbors across the state. This includes funding to support affordable and transitional housing and prevent homelessness, legal aid, youth programs, home care and early education.
Meet Kathleen!
 
Kathleen Melendy joins Rep. Barber’s office as an intern through the Barbara Lee Family Fellowship Internship Program at Simmons College. Kathleen is a senior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and double minoring in Sociology and Management. Particularly interested in violence prevention, women’s rights, and sex education, she has dedicated her time to numerous women’s-serving organizations throughout the Commonwealth. Kathleen is excited to learn more about the legislative process and how to affect policy change. Upon graduation, she hopes to work for the state or for a nonprofit agency advocating for gender equality and otherwise marginalized populations.

Interested in interning, or know someone who is? Contact my office!
Community Events

Clarendon/North St Housing Redevelopment Community Meeting
Monday, January 29, 6:30PM
West Somerville Neighborhood School
Join other community members as the developer team shares the updated urban design and traffic impact study.

Somerville COA's Bring a Friend Monday
Monday, January 29th, 10AM
Cross Street Senior Center
Starting in January, join the Council on Aging once a month and bring a friend to meet new people, learn what the Council has to offer, and to get involved. 

Medford First-time Homebuyers Workshop
Begins Tuesday January 30th, 6PM
Medford Housing Authority
Thinking of or in the process of buying a home? This Medford Community Housing Education Program is certified by MassHousing and Citizens' Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). $65/household. Learn more here

Words and Music: Why Black History Month Still Matters 
Friday, February 2, 8PM
West Medford Community Center 
Listen to live music, learn about African-American history and join in a discussion. Find out more here.  
State House Updates

Now that the House has resumed its formal schedule after the holidays, we are busy workiing to move bills before Joint Rule 10 Day (February 7th), the final date by which legislation must be reported out of committee to continue to move forward in the 190th legislative session, and as budget season approaches. 

After the recent Equifax credit breach and the Federal Communications Commission's vote to repeal net neutrality protections, I am supporting two pieces of legislation which offer consumers state-level protections against unfair internet practices and credit fraud. HD4432, An Act Protecting Consumers by Prohibiting Blocking, Throttling, or Paid Prioritization in the Provision Of Internet Service, modeled after legislation filed in Washington, aims to ensure open internet access in response to the FCC's decision. H134An Act Removing Fees for Security Freezes and Disclosures of Consumer Credit Reports, will help consumers by eliminating fees to freeze credit and will give consumers control over their personal data.

In the past few months, I've attended rallies, held briefings, and stood with Centro Presente and our immigrant communities in Massachusetts in opposition to President Trump's decisions to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. Immigrants with TPS have lived in our neighborhoods for years, and are important members of our community. I am proud to stand with them to push the federal government for reforms that allow TPS holders to stay in the U.S. 

This month, I joined Chairman Pignatelli and my colleagues on the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture for a briefing from the Mass Department of Environmental Protection on the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). NPDES is a water quality program that regulates and issues permits for facilities that discharge pollutants into surface waters, and Governor Baker has filed legislation to delegate its administration from the Federal EPA to the Commonwealth's own environmental agency. I have concerns about DEP's already stretched budget and current permitting backlog, and am following this legislation closely. 

This week, I was proud to join Speaker DeLeo at his annual veterans luncheon in the Great Hall of the State House, which is a great opportunity to honor our veterans in Massachusetts and ensure they receive services they need in the community. 

On January 30th, I am looking forward to joining my colleagues in House and Senate for the Women's Caucus Annual Meeting. As Vice Chair of the Women's Caucus, I greatly enjoy organizing with my colleagues to support legislation to promote gender equity in the Commonwealth. 
With Somerville Ward 7 Alderman and new President Katjana Balantyne at Somerville's mayoral and board of aldermen inauguration on January 1st! 
Last month, I had lunch with the Women In Public Service Network, a networking group of women currently working in government. We had a great conversation about women in politics!
Upcoming Office Hours
 
Saturday, February 3rd
With W4 SC's Andre Green & Alderman Jesse Clignan
Winter Hill Brewing Company
8AM - 10AM

Saturday, February 10th
Whole Foods Medford
9AM - 11AM


Stay tuned for more office hours to be announced soon! 

Contact me any time:
Email me
Office: 617-722-2210
Stop by: Room 473F to meet my aide, Claire, or email her for an appointment. 
In the News: 
As Green Line Extension moves forward, locals hope for expansion into Medford
"The Route 16 stop in particular is one of the busiest stops, so it would pull more cars off the road and pull in more riders than [many] other stops of the Green Line Extension," Barber said. "The ability to increase mobility and increase ridership by going to Route 16 would improve the entire Green Line Extension."

DA aims to cut down on domestic violence
In an effort to expand Cut It Out training across the Commonwealth, Middlesex DA Marian Ryan has partnered with state Rep. Christine Barber to spearhead legislation that would require licenses aestheticians, hairdressers, manicurists, and others to complete one hour of domestic violence and sexual assault awareness training.

Panel would examine how criminal justice system affects Massachusetts women
The Massachusetts House unanimously passed an amendment to its comprehensive criminal justice bill establishing a new panel on justice-involved women. The panel would look at the impact of Massachusetts' criminal justice laws on women to develop gender-specific recommendations. 
The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Christine Barber, D-Somerville... "This amendment ensures policy changes in the bill will be implemented in a manner that most benefits women in the justice system," Barber said.
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