Six Simple Things The Massachusetts Legislature Should Do This Legislative Session

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The Massachusetts legislature is in a new session.

Over the next two years, state legislators will work to pass laws — for better or worse — in hopes that Governor Maura Healey will sign them into law.

So what, realistically, should the state legislature do in this new session? Here are five ideas of what they should do to make the Commonwealth a better place.


1.  Cut Taxes

Governor-to-be Maura Healey said during her 2022 campaign that she wants to cut taxes.

Let’s hope she is telling the truth.

The Massachusetts legislature, ultimately, is where bills are drafted and passed. Therefore, it is up to state legislators to create some tax cuts for the Commonwealth.

Two ideas come to mind. 

Healey has expressed interest in creating a $600 per child state-level child tax credit. That’s a good idea. Letting people keep more of their money at a time when so many are struggling to get by in an expensive state would help people pay their bills and stay out of debt.

And even soon-to-be-former Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed tax cuts last year weren’t bad. 

Here’s what that plan includes, according to


  • Double the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit to lower the overall tax burden for more than 100,000 lower-income homeowners aged 65+

  • Increase the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $5,000, allowing approximately 881,000 Massachusetts renters to keep approximately $77 million more annually

  • Double the dependent care credit to $480 for one qualifying individual and $960 for two or more, and double the household dependent care credit to $360 for one qualifying individual and $720 for two or more to benefit more than 700,000 families

  • Increase the Massachusetts adjusted gross income (AGI) thresholds for “no tax status” to $12,400 for single filers, $24,800 for joint filers, and $18,650 for head of households, which will eliminate the income tax for more than 234,000 low-income filers

  • Double the estate tax threshold and eliminate the current “cliff effect” that taxes the full amount below the threshold

  • Change the short-term capital gains tax rate to the personal income tax rate of 5 percent to align the Commonwealth with most other states


The state has plenty of cash and will likely get even more with the passage of the Fair Share Amendment in November 2022; it raises the income tax rate on income exceeding $1 million from 5 percent to 9 percent.

In these tough economic times, the state can and should afford to give some money back to the people.


2.  Make Adoption More Affordable

Last session, state representative Michael Soter (R-Bellingham) filed a bill called “An Act To Promote Adoption” (H.3067) that had bipartisan support in the legislature; its co-sponsors include 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. The bill received a favorable report from the House Ways and Means Committee on April 7, 2022, but no further action was taken. 

“A[] refundable adoption tax credit of $2,500 per adopted child from foster care and or a[] refundable adoption tax credit of $2,000 per adopted child from a private and or public adoption agency in a calendar year shall be allowed to one adoptive parent against any taxes due pursuant to this chapter,” a major provision of the bill reads.

Private adoptions often cost families between $15,000 to $40,000, according to The New York Times. Given that children need caretakers and adoption is an infinitely better alternative to abortion, supporting adoption and making adoption more affordable is a solid pro-life policy.

Hopefully, leadership does what’s right and allows a vote on this bill this session.


3.  Demand Roll Call Votes

When lawmakers vote on bills, the public should know where their elected officials stand on the matter. 

Unfortunately, our state lacks transparency. One example:  Voice votes on bills. This situation includes significant pieces of legislation, like the bill that legalized sports betting in the state Senate last year.

It takes just six state senators out of 40 to stand for a roll call vote and 16 state representatives out of 160 to stand for one.

Some other commonsense transparency reforms would be great — including making committee votes public and subjecting the legislature to the public records law — but those will not happen this session. At least demanding roll call votes is possible. 


4.  Stop Towns From Taking Homes For Small Amounts of Taxes Owed

In August 2022, New Boston Post was the only news outlet to report a shocking story:  The town of Bourne foreclosed on a home whose owner initially owed just $1,167.44 in back taxes.

The home owner’s heir got … nothing.

Current state law allows a town or city to begin foreclosure proceedings for just six months of unpaid taxes. And if the town or city actually forecloses, the property owner gets nothing.

At the time of the court appeal the home was worth about $258,000. Now it’s more like $300,000.

“We acknowledge the potential harshness of the statute as applied in certain circumstances. We are not the first court to do so,” an Appeals Court justice wrote in the opinion.

Forget about allegedly greedy banks. If they foreclose and sell the property, at least they have to give the property owner whatever the difference is between the purchase price and what they say they are owed.

But local governments practice something called “strict foreclosure.” They get everything; the home owner gets nothing. And who is most likely to get nothing? Why, poor people, of course. Who else would have trouble paying property taxes?

It is yet another example of the government in Massachusetts at war with its people.

State legislators can stop it.

They should.


5.  Ban Revenge Porn

Massachusetts is one of just two states where revenge porn is still legal.

Some may argue that people shouldn’t take pornographic pictures of themselves and send them to other people. That’s correct. But should they have to pay the price for the rest of their lives? A momentary irresponsible and immoral private act becomes permanent online. 

The legislature has an opportunity to restrict pornography, which promotes a culture of death by separating sexual intercourse from human reproduction.

Plus, revenge porn is bad for these victims — and you don’t have to be perfect to be a victim.

A 2014 study by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative found that 93 percent of revenge porn victims have suffered “significant” emotional distress and 41 percent have contemplated suicide. The study found that 90 percent of the victims of revenge porn are women.

There is too much porn on the Internet already, and we don’t want young women and men killing themselves. Therefore, banning revenge porn makes sense. 

Bipartisan support exists for getting this done.

On May 26, 2022, the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 154-0 to approve a bill (H.4498) sponsored by the House Ways and Means Committee that would ban revenge porn; it would make revenge porn offenses subject to the state’s criminal harassment laws. That carries a penalty of up to 2 1/2 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The bill offers a less strict punishment for minors:  a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in a juvenile correctional facility.

So while the House and Senate never came together to get a bill on soon-to-beformer Governor Baker’s desk, they should keep working on this issue and get something on Healey’s desk for her to sign.


6.  Legalize Fireworks

When it comes to fireworks, Massachusetts is an outlier.

The Bay State is the only state where all fireworks are illegal.

Yet, people still use fireworks in Massachusetts. The ban prevents Massachusetts from benefitting from the fireworks industry.

When people can go a couple of hundred feet over the state line and get fireworks from a place called Fireworks Over The Border in Seabrook, New Hampshire, the Massachusetts ban makes little sense. 

Legalizing fireworks would allow the state to regulate fireworks. Laws could determine the time of day, time of year, which types of fireworks people can use, and how old they have to be to use fireworks. Plus, legalizing fireworks would create jobs, businesses, and tax revenue. And fireworks injuries have decreased as states have liberalized fireworks laws.

Perhaps there is sort of a middle ground between drunks lighting off bottle rockets at 3 a.m. in February and cops seizing sparklers from sober adults in July. The legislature should try to find that balance.


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