2023 – 2024 Legislative Platform

Please find The Arc of Massachusetts 2023-2024 Legislative Platform below. Our bills advance areas such as healthcare, housing, protection, education and family support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities including autism.

If you have any questions on any of the legislation, please contact Maura Sullivan at sullivan@arcmass.org.

Last Updated: February 19, 2024 – Post Joint Rule 10

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Workforce Priorities

Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and MassHealth Workforce Rate Increase H171 S83

An Act relative to rates for workers providing supports and services for individuals with disabilities

Representatives Sean Garballey and Simon Cataldo, Senator Barry Finegold

This bill addresses the severe workforce shortage for direct support staff, program managers, and clinicians such as nurses. It requires that salaries be consistent with the bureau of labor statistics at a minimum of the 75th percentile of positions in the commonwealth which have job codes of similar responsibilities. This change will have a significant impact in procuring adequate wages. The bill includes all DDS services covered by the Chapter 257 rate process, and the Day Habilitation program which is covered by the MassHealth rate process.

Community College for Direct Support Professionals H1285 S812

An Act establishing a fund to further educational opportunities for caregivers to adults with disabilities

Representative Dave Rogers, Senator Mike Barrett

This bill creates a pilot to provide free community college to direct support staff with two years of service.

An Act Relative to Family Members Serving as Caregivers H1232 S775

An Act relative to family members serving as caregivers

Representative James O’Day, Senator Joan Lovely

This bill allows guardians, caregivers, and others with legal standing to be paid for providing AFC and PCA services.

Priority Refiles

An Act to Expand Nicky’s Law to Day Habilitation Programs H141 S119

An Act updating Nicky’s Law to protect individuals with disabilities in MassHealth day habilitation programs

Representative Josh Cutler, Senator Mike Moore

This bill will require MassHealth Day Habilitation providers to use the abuse registry. This expands the protections of Nicky’s Law to those in MassHealth Day Habilitation

Accessory Housing Units for People with Disabilities H1296 S904

An Act relative to accessory dwelling units

Representative Christine Barber, Senator Bruce Tarr

This bill will allow the creation of accessory dwelling units for people with disabilities and older adults with an allowance for the owner occupier to be a special needs trust.

Supported Decision Making (SDM) H1485 S109

An Act relative to authorizing supported decision-making agreements for certain adults with disabilities

Representatives Mike Finn and Sean Garballey, Senator Joan Lovely

This bill allows certain adults, including those with disabilities to maintain their rights, dignity, and independence by choosing trusted supports to provide assistance making decisions about their lives. SDM is an alternative to guardianship where appropriate.

Cueing and Supervision for PCA Program H206 S107

An Act relative to cueing and supervision in the PCA program

Representative James O’Day, Senator Joan Lovely

This bill will require the allowance of cueing and supervision, in the PCA program, as a covered service for those eligible members who need it.

ABA MassHealth for Adults H128 S97

An Act ensuring equal access to medical treatments essential for people with a developmental disability, intellectual disability, or autism

Representative Christine Barber, Senator John Keenan

This bill will require MassHealth to cover applied behavior analysis services for adults with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities, where ABA is a medical necessity. Also included language for Assistive Technology coverage.

Updating the Definition of Developmental Disability H207 S103

An Act relative to persons with developmental disabilities

Representative James O’Day, Senator Joan Lovely

This bill adopts the federal definition of developmental disability in place of the current state definition and will amend the law to include all adults with a developmental disability, e.g. cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Priority Training Bills

Hospital Training to Enhance Healthcare for People with Autism and IDD H172 S1401

An Act to enhance hospital care for those with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities

Representatives Sean Garballey and Ryan Hamilton, Senator Jason Lewis

This bill will enhance hospital care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism through training, standards of care and certification requirements.

Autism Police Training Expansion H2351 S1568

An Act relative to police interactions with persons on the autism spectrum

Representative Kay Khan, Senator Mike Moore

An act relative to police training in appropriate interactions with persons on the autism spectrum and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, expanding on the mandated cadet training to include veteran officers and correctional officers through in-service training.

Operation House Call H2221 S1398

An Act improving health care for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities including autism

Representative John Lawn, Senator Jason Lewis

This bill will improve healthcare for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities including autism through training and certification, modeled after The Arc’s Operation House Call.

Supporting Autistic Drivers through the Blue Envelope Program H3359 S2204

An Act facilitating better interactions between police officers and persons with autism spectrum disorder

Representatives Kay Khan and Mindy Domb, Senator Jo Comerford

This bill will facilitate understanding and better communication between law enforcement and autistic drivers.  Autistic drivers can voluntarily request a blue envelope, which attaches to the car’s visor.  The envelope would hold the driver’s license, registration, etc., as well as specific instructions for the police officer on the driver’s diagnosis, impairments, triggers, and contact information.

Additional Policy Priorities

An Act to Protect Medically Fragile Kids H1192 S748

An Act to Protect Medically Fragile Kids

Senator Cindy Friedman and Representative Denise Garlick

This bill addresses the lack of Continuous Nursing for those who have medically complex conditions and resolves the inequity in rate setting for these positions. Finding certified medical personnel can be nearly impossible for those who care for medically complex children and adults.

Supporting Nicky’s Law Implementation and Updating Terminology H174 S96

An Act updating terminology and investigative practices related to the protection of persons with disabilities

Representative Sean Garballey, Senator John Keenan

This bill will update language and regulations for the DPPC statutes and align regulations with Nicky’s Law

Banning Aversive Therapy H180

An Act regarding the use of aversive therapy

Representative Danielle Gregoire

This bill would ban the use of any procedure on any person with a disability, that causes obvious signs of pain for the purposes of changing behavior, including electric shock.

Prohibiting Discrimination Against Parents with Disabilities H1601 S1037

An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings

Representative Kay Khan, Senator Joan Lovely

This bill will require the courts to determine if a parent’s disability causes actual harm to their child by requiring written findings when a parents disability is relied on as a negative factor in custody or parenting time determination.

An Act Building a More Accessible Massachusetts S1553

An Act building a more accessible Massachusetts

Senator Michael Moore

893 (& HD.1567) address loopholes that prevent buildings constructed prior to 1991, and all workplaces to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It accomplishes this by bringing such buildings under the purview of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board when newly built or when major renovations take place, ensuing more accessible housing units are available in our state, and expanding employment access.

An Act Establishing the Human Service Transportation (HST) Consumer Advisory Board S1434 H3303

An Act Establishing the Human Service Transportation (HST) Consumer Advisory Board

Senator Susan Moran, Representatives Mindy Domb and Sarah K. Peake

This bill establishes a community advisory board for the Human Services Transportation (HST) Office at EOHHS to identify challenges and solutions to address the experience and concerns of eligible MassHealth consumers.  The council would help guide HST to ensure that non-emergency transportation to medical, community and other essential human services are safe, reliable, and of high quality.

Katie’s Law, Updating Archaic Language H160 S95

An Act relative to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities

Representatives Mike Finn and Sean Garballey, Senator Patricia Jehlen

This bill would strike out certain archaic and outdated words, phrases and language in our MA chapter law, e.g. mental retardation, handicapped.

Tommy's Law H213 S123

An Act to increase the safety of individuals with disabilities relying on life-support equipment

Representative Dave Rogers, Senator Patrick O’Connor

This bill will require appropriate discharge plan review with residential facility nursing staff and increase the accountability for medical equipment monitoring.

Public Access to Historical Records H3033 S1966

An Act relating to public access to historical records

Representatives Sean Garballey and Mindy Domb, Senator Mike Barrett

This bill will allow historical records in the custody of the Secretary of State to be open for public inspection after 75 years. This bill will support the work of the Special Commission on the history of state institutions.

An Act Expanding the Availability of Adaptable Housing for People with Disabilities and the Elderly H2201

An Act expanding the availability of adaptable housing for people with disabilities and seniors

Representatives Christine Barber and Michael Moran

HD.1567 (&  SD. 893) address loopholes that prevent buildings constructed prior to 1991, and all workplaces to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It accomplishes this by bringing such buildings under the purview of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board when newly built or when major renovations take place, ensuing more accessible housing units are available in our state, and expanding employment access.

Resolve Reviving and Continuing the Non-Emergency Human Services Transportation Task Force S121 H3302

Resolve Reviving and Continuing the Non-Emergency Human Services Transportation Task Force

Senator Susan Moran, Representatives Mindy Domb and Sarah K. Peake

This bill extends SECTION 134 which was in the FY’22 budget establishing a Non-Emergency Human Services Transportation Task Force.  The goal of the task force was to improve service and achieve operational and cost efficiencies and provide the highest quality outcomes for consumers utilizing Human Services Transportation (HST) Office at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).  HST is the second (2nd) largest public provider of transportation services with 50,000 MassHealth consumers using the service. In FY’22, HST provided through brokers, 6.2 million rides to those consumers.

An Act Expanding Wheelchair Warranty Protections for Consumers with Disabilities H378 S152

An Act Expanding Wheelchair Warranty Protections for Consumers with Disabilities

Representative Jim O’Day, Senator John Cronin

Expands the existing warranty to two years, and will cover all wheelchair users in the Commonwealth, not just those who are on private insurance or can afford to pay out of pocket. It will hold wheelchair providers and suppliers to reasonable repair timelines by requiring they cover costs consumers face as a result of their defective chairs, and stock common parts so they are prepared to service chairs efficiently. It will also require that companies provide loaner chairs (where possible) if needed.

Universal Changing Tables H212

An Act requiring universal changing stations in public buildings

Representative Angelo Puppolo

This bill would require at least one “Universal changing station,” on or after January 1, 2026 in any new or remodeled public buildings. This would enable persons of any age or sex to be assisted with diapering or change of clothing within an enclosed restroom facility. Presently adults cannot utilize the changing tables intended for infants or toddlers due to size. Regulations would be developed by the Architectural Access Board to apply to any new or remodeled buildings.