ON THE ISSUES

Massachusetts is a commonwealth of firsts. From the first subway system and public school in America, to the first public park and library, Massachusetts has been committed to using government to help people.

Jeff believes in these principles, and has worked tirelessly at the State House to ensure a commonwealth that looks out for our residents. He has strengthened progressive values in our community and moved the ball forward on some of our most important social issues. He helped lead the effort to protect marriage equality and ensure universal healthcare in the legislature while working with leaders to pass transgender non-discrimination, equal pay, women’s health laws, and to raise the minimum wage.

Visit Jeff’s State House office website for the latest news and info on legislation!

Budget

    • Jeff is Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, meaning he is charged with writing the state’s annual budget. This year, he shepherded a $41.88 billion state budget that was lauded by affordable housing and homelessness prevention advocates, environmental organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates.
    • From affordable healthcare to housing, Jeff fought to incorporate the values of our community in the budget. Click here to download a budget fact sheet to see for yourself.

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Violence Prevention

    • Jeff worked hard to pass the strictest gun control legislation in the country, including affirming Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban, the outlaw of rapid fire gun devices such as bump stocks and “red flag” legislation that allows family members, roommates, and police chiefs to ask a court to take away an person’s guns if the person is dangerous to the public or themselves.
    • He has worked with the Boston Police Department to foster community policing programs, and has successfully advocated for funds in the budget for at-risk youth summer jobs, internships, and education.

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Criminal Justice Reform

    • Growing up in Boston, many of Jeff’s friends felt the impacts of an unjust criminal justice system. Many still feel the consequences, long after serving their time.
    • As State Representative, Jeff has consistently voted for legislation that reforms the criminal justice system front-to-back, ensuring equity and safety for those who want to turn their lives around from the second they get stopped to the day they’re released from jail.
    • He sponsored the House provision to create a process for juvenile expungement, as well as the expungement for offenses that are no longer crimes, like the possession of marijuana.
    • He eliminated mandatory minimums for non-violent drug crimes, create a process for clearing past criminal records for juveniles, and invest in programs that break the cycle of incarceration and reduce recidivism.
    • Jeff ensured reform diverted people with mental health and substance use disorder into treatment instead of prison, and fought for the funding to make it happen
    • He shepherded CORI Reform through the legislature in 2010 and again in 2017 when research recommended ways it could be improved.
    • Recognizing that it hampered people’s ability to secure work and establish a life post-release, Jeff voted to repeal a law that suspended a driver’s license for drug crimes, even if it had nothing to do with driving.
    • Jeff prioritized funding for criminal justice programs in his first budget as chair of ways and means, including $5 million to create new community-based re-entry programs.

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Health Care

    • Jeff believes that quality, affordable, universal healthcare is a right and should be accessible to everyone. Throughout his career, he has worked to pass legislation that improves health outcomes, ensures people’s right to access healthcare coverage, and reduces costs for the consumer.
    • Jeff has dedicated his life to access to quality healthcare for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable: elderly, children, persons with disabilities, and the working poor.
    • He has played a key role in the healthcare debate, including the passage of reform that served as a model for the Affordable Care Act at the national level and has expanded health insurance to 98% of the state’s population.
    • He helped pass Massachusetts’ 2012 cost containment law, which has helped increase transparency and reduce costs throughout the industry.
    • In response to the 2012 meningitis outbreak in compounding pharmacies, Jeff organized stakeholders and helped pass legislation that protected public health.
    • Jeff successfully fought for his bill to establish the Office of Health Equity, which will coordinate state agenices to address racial and ethnic health disparities.
    • John McDonough, a healthcare policy expert and advisor to Sen. Ted Kennedy on the Affordable Care Act, recently described Jeff’s healthcare leadership: “We have better healthcare polices than what we see with the Affordable Care Act, because he’s ensured access and coverage.”

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Affordable Housing

    • With housing costs at historic highs, Jeff has fought to ensure that anyone who wants to live here in the 15th district is able to do so.
    • Jeff grew up in the Mission Main public housing project and as State Representative, he has promoted policies that increase the availability of affordable housing units in the district.
    • Under Jeff’s stewardship, Jeff ensured $1.8 billion in state funding would go toward preserving and developing affordable housing across Massachusetts.
    • His advocacy has brought over $500 million in state funding to the district to help develop over 600 units of affordable housing at Roxbury Crossing, Jackson Square, Hyde Square, and Roslindale.
    • He has been crucial in developing legislation regulating and taxing short-term rentals like Airbnb, ensuring that a portion of taxes go toward affordable housing.
    • Jeff has consistently supported funding for rental vouchers and other housing stability programs, which have decreased the number of homeless families since 2013, and nearly eliminated the number of families living in hotels and motels.
    • During the height of the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis, Jeff helped pass legislation that increased tenant and consumer protections from foreclosure, including eviction protections to tenants in foreclosed properties who pay rent and comply with tenancy obligations, additional consumer protections for reverse mortgages, allowing exemption from property taxes for nonprofits that rehabilitate a foreclosed property and criminalizing mortgage fraud.
      • During the budget process, Jeff led the effort to restore funding for foreclosure prevention and assistance.
    • Jeff was recently named the Canon Brian S. Kelley Public Servant Award recipient from the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance for his dedication to housing solutions.

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Economic Equality

    • Jeff is a fierce advocate for economic equality and gives voice to underserved communities.
    • He worked to pass a $15 minimum wage while increased the tipped minimum wage, so hardworking people are compensated for their work.
    • He helped pass the most comprehensive paid family and medical leave legislation of any state in the country, guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid family leave and 20 weeks of medical leave.
    • Jeff supports collective bargaining and the right to organize, and has stood with unions and workers. He is proud to be endorsed by labor unions including the building trades, every SEIU, the Firefighters, and the hospitality industry.
    • He led the effort to pass legislation this session to establish a prevailing wage for security offices contracted by state and quasi-public entities, and extend the existing prevailing wage for cleaners to quasi-public agencies like the MBTA.
    • Knowing that working families still struggle to pay rent and put food on the table, Jeff voted twice for the Fair Share Amendment, which would have provided $2 billion for education and transportation. He was disappointed to see it struck down by the courts.

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Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

    • Jeff believes that no one should be robbed of their life or go to jail because they struggle with substance use.
    • Jeff worked to pass legislation that invested millions of dollars to provide care and support to those dealing with opioid addiction, and ensured that people are diverted into treatment services rather than prison sentences.
    • Jeff helped repeal laws that imprisoned women with substance use disorder, ensuring women be placed in a treatment bed not a prison bed.
    • He also helped pass laws that enabled inmates to access addiction treatment like Vivitrol.
    • In his first budget as chair of Ways and Means, Jeff secured increased funding for substance use treatment, including funds to open 5 new recovery centers across the state.
    • Jeff passed first-in-the-nation legislation to limit first-time adult opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply.
    • This past session, Jeff passed legislation ensuring medication-assisted treatment for people with substance use disorder at 3 state prisons, and 5 county correctional facilities. 
    • Jeff was recently awarded Legislator of the Year by the Association for Behavioral Health

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Women

    • Jeff supports a woman’s right to choose, and will continue to advocate for policies that empower women.
    • He led the charge to repeal archaic laws off the books, guaranteeing that women can access reproductive healthcare even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
    • Jeff supported legislation, now signed into law, that guarantees copay-free birth control to all women in Massachusetts.
    • He has worked to close the gender pay gap by working to pass the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, which requires that all employees be paid the same for comparable work, regardless of gender.
    • Women should not be discriminated against in the workplace, especially if they are pregnant. Jeff understands this, and voted for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
    • Receiving sensitive healthcare services at a clinic like Planned Parenthood can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when there are protesters intimidating patients who visit. When the Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ law that provided a buffer between the front door and protesters, Sánchez worked with his colleagues to swiftly pass new legislation that followed the Court’s guidance and protected patients’ access to services.  
    • In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Jeff understands how important it is to support survivors, which is why he worked to pass comprehensive domestic violence legislation which creates new criminal offenses, elevated penalties, boosts prevention efforts, and seeks to empower victims.
    • Jeff worked with college students in the district to pass legislation requiring colleges and universities to conduct sexual assault climate surveys, to ensure that institutions are held accountable to supporting survivors.

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LGBTQ+

    • Jeff is an unwavering advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. When some settled for civil unions, Jeff advocated for marriage equality, and provided crucial votes against bills and constitutional amendments that would have outlawed same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
    • Jeff was one of the original 50 representatives to stand in support of marriage equality.
    • Jeff co-sponsored the Transgender Equal Rights Act, which passed during the 2010-2012 Session. A bill long overdue, this legislation provides fundamental protections for the Commonwealth’s approximately 33,000 transgender residents. This bill protects against discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the workplace. Also, this bill ensures that no transgender person will be discriminated against when applying for credit from a lender, buying a new home, or receiving education.
    • Jeff helped pass the transgender anti-discrimination law in 2016, and is currently fighting against the 2018 ballot question that seeks to repeal it.
    • Jeff supports ensuring schools provide age-appropriate, culturally competent, medically accurate sex ed.
    • Recently, he ensured that short-term rentals cannot discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • This session, Jeff led the effort in the House to ban the practice of conversion therapy for minors.

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Environment and Energy

    • As a firm supporter of science, Jeff has championed policies that prepare Massachusetts for the effects of climate change, invest in a clean energy future, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. He knows that we need to act now.
    • In 2008, Jeff helped pass the Global Warming Solutions Act, which committed the state to specific carbon reduction levels that scientists believe give us a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
    • That same year, he supported the Green Communities Act, which doubled the renewable portfolio standard, incentivized 1600 MW of solar energy through a net metering reimbursement program, and committed Massachusetts to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an agreement with other northeastern states to create a market-based cap and trade approach to reduce carbon emissions. Since then, RGGI has helped cut emissions from Northeast and Mid-Atlantic power plants by nearly 40 percent and has directed $490M to Massachusetts’ energy efficiency efforts.
    • In 2016, Jeff helped pass the first and largest procurement of offshore wind in the country, which is projected to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to take the equivalent of 378,00 cars off the road. The projects are expected to create 10,000 jobs, with the many of those going to blue collar workers. The projects will provide power to more than 800,000 Massachusetts homes or 11 percent of Massachusetts’ total annual electricity consumption. These procurement policies signal to the world that Massachusetts is a major player committed to clean energy.

    • Jeff has worked with groups to target methane gas leaks since 2004, long before they became a statewide issue. Previously, we didn’t know the location or extent of gas leaks until we passed legislation requiring utilities to identify gas leaks and repair dangerous leaks. In 2016, he passed regulations for repairing environmentally damaging leaks and requires that these leaks are fixed during municipal road repair.

    • Jeff has opposed the so-called “pipeline tax,” which would charge ratepayers like you and me with paying for new gas pipelines.

    • Jeff recently helped pass legislation to double the amount of renewable energy in Massachusetts, accelerating our path to 100% renewable energy.

    • He is a strong supporter of our parks and open space, partnering with local organizations like the Emerald Necklace Conservancy to ensure funds and resources are available to preserve our parks.
    • In his first budget as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Jeff prioritized funding for environmental programs that have been overlooked in recent years and subject to staff reductions from early retirement, including:
      • DCR State Parks and Recreation: $40M
      • Department of Environmental Protection: $29M
      • Office of Watershed Management: $1.1M
      • Office of Climate Change Planning and Adaptation: $2.2M to help municipalities prepare for the effects of climate change. The final FY19 budget specifically requires spending for environmental justice staff.
    • During the recent session, Jeff helped pass a $2.4 billion environmental bond bill, which ensures capital funding to prepare our coastlines for extreme weather, upgrade our drinking water infrastsructure, support urban street tree planting, and fund renewable infrastructure.
    • Jeff is endorsed by the Environmental League of Massachusetts for his commitment to the environment, as well as the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists.

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Transportation

    • Jeff has been a supporter of the MBTA throughout his time in office. He has a track record supporting new revenue to improve service and expand the system, including his vote to raise the sales tax in 2009, dedicating a portion of all sales tax revenue to the MBTA, and voting to increase the gas tax in 2013.
    • While voters ultimately repealed the gas tax being tied to inflation, Jeff made sure the revenue funded new Orange Line and Green Line cars, which are currently being tested and will be operational in 2019.
    • Jeff voted twice for the Fair Share Amendment in the legislature, which would have help raise more revenue to improve transportation.
    • Jeff supports all modes of transportation, and has advocated for street design that promotes the safety of all users. He secured funding for the streetlight at Burroughs Street to access Jamaica Pond, the redesign of Kelley Circle, the crosswalk and street redesign of Perkins Street at Parkman Drive, and the installation of safety lights along Centre Street.
    • He continues to work with the DCR on the redesign of the Arborway between Murray and Kelley Circle, as well as Centre Street, especially at the intersection with Walter Street, to ensure the safety of people who bike, drive, and walk in the area.
      • In the recent budget, Jeff secured $100K for design of the Roslindale Arboretum Gateway Path, $300K to improve safety at Centre/Walter Street, and capital funding to execute the projects.
    • He has been an advocate for converting the Roslindale commuter rail station from zone 1 to 1A in order to make fares consistent with rapid transit.
    • Jeff supported the Roslindale Washington Street bus priority lane, and will continue to fight to improve bus service throughout the district.

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Immigration

    • Jackson and Hyde Square are known as Boston’s Latin Quarter because of the rich culture immigrants bring to the neighborhood. Jeff understands the important role immigrants have in our communities, and is a committed advocate of immigrants’ rights.
    • Jeff was an original supporter of the Safe Communities Act.
    • He stood with Mayor Marty Walsh in announcing Boston as a Sanctuary City.
    • Jeff led the fight to ensure undocumented immigrants have guaranteed health insurance through MassHealth, access to state-funded public houisng, and a guaranteed seat in our public schools, despite repeated attacks on our immigrant communities.
    • While children were ripped from their families on the US border, Jefff made sure the recent budget gave courts clear guidance to protect unaccompanied immigrant youth from deportation.
    • He sponsored the 2014 domestic workers bill of rights, which proclaims that domestic workers have the same rights as other workers to minimum wage, overtime, maternity leave, and other labor protections.

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Education

    • Since the rigid, one-size-fits-all policy to educate English language learners (ELL) was implemented in 2003, Jeff filed legislation to provide school districts flexibility for ELL students. His legislation was signed into law in 2017, and will ensure every child is given the proper opportunity to succeed in the classroom, no matter what language they speak.
    • The social and emotional development of a child is a key indicator in their development. Jeff has supported early education and care throughout his career, including efforts to improve teacher salaries and retention. He helped secure resources to develop the Nurtury Early Learning Lab in Bromley-Heath, and ensured another $45M will go toward similar early education facilities across Massachusetts.
    • Jeff supports implementing the findings of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. Through his leadership on the state budget, he has already funded increases to teacher healthcare and English language learners.
    • Jeff voted to support and advance the Fair Share Amendment, and will continue to advocate for revenue to fund public schools.
    • As Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Jeff introduced increases to public education, ensuring that districts have funding for Special Education and English language learners while districts like Boston are reimbursed for the money they pay to charter schools.
    • As the next budget process begins, Jeff will be at the forefront of the conversation to fully fund public schools.
    • Jeff increased funding for higher ed scholarships in the recently-passed budget, helping make college more affordable for families throughout Massachusetts.

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