As he begins his third term in the Massachusetts State Legislature, Representative Aaron Michlewitz has put forth an aggressive agenda of legislative proposals for the upcoming 2013 – 2014 session.
Known for championing neighborhood-related issues such as the Green Ticket Bill and Greenway Conservancy Reform, Michlewitz is sponsoring seven new bills on broad issues such as Gun Control, Election Reform and Gay Rights. The lifelong North End Democrat represents the Third Suffolk District that includes the North End / Waterfront, South End, Chinatown and parts of Downtown Boston. We recently sat down with Representative Michlewitz to get the rundown on his latest proposals.
Representative Michlewitz has partnered with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to sponsor new Gun Control legislation that would create a statewide Gun Offender Registry list. Similar to the Sex Offender Registry, those convicted of gun crimes residing in Massachusetts would have their names and addresses listed in a database accessible to the public.
The Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut have encouraged legislators to introduce new gun control measures. “I have always been a strong supporter of gun control laws and this registry list of offenders is an important step that will identify those who have previously violated our gun laws,” said Rep. Michlewitz.
Early Voting and Election Reform
If you voted waited a long time in line to vote during last November’s election, you will probably be supportive of Michlewitz’ Early Voting proposal, a system already adopted by many other states. “There is still a need for re-precincting,” noted Michlewitz, “but early voting will help ease the lines at the polls that many constituents experienced last year.” Cities and towns across the Commonwealth will be given the option of allowing early voting for statewide elections, up to 2 weeks before election day at a central location for each ward. For the North End’s Ward 3 in Boston, voters could go to City Hall during the early voting period to cast their votes.
In the election reform front, Michlewitz is sponsoring requirements for election audits, pre-registration and clerk training. Machine counts would be randomly verified and 16 & 17 year olds will be able to pre-register so they are automatically registered on their 18th birthday. “Getting young people to vote in their first election is crucial to developing lifelong voting habits,” said Michlewitz. In addition to Early Voting and Election Reform, the Representative would make permanent Bilingual Ballots for Boston’s Chinese and Vietnamese speakers.
As a supporter of same sex marriage, Rep. Michlewitz would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation that would reimburse gay married couples who are state workers for tax penalties imposed on them regarding imputed income related to health insurance. The Same Sex Couples Tax Credit would offset the extra tax penalties that came as a result of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The City of Cambridge already offers a similar reimbursement to city employees, as do companies like Facebook and Google.
Recent concerns about safety in tunnels has motivated the Representative to sponsor “An Act Concerning Tunnel Safety” whereby privately owned tunnels would be required to disclose their insurance coverage. The Copley Place tunnel under the Prudential Center would be an example of a privately owned tunnel that would be subject to the proposed legislation.
Rental Car Fees
Looking to give Boston and Cambridge residents a break, Michlewitz is also introducing legislation to exempt city residents from the Boston Convention Center surcharge on rental cars. This would also apply to some ZipCar-type fees.
As he does at the start of every term, Representative Michlewitz is in the process of meeting with community leaders throughout the Third Suffolk District, including local businesses and neighborhood groups such as the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) and the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA). He invites others interested in discussing legislative issues to contact his office at 617-722-2400 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also maintains a website at www.AaronForRep.com.