O'Connor Ives to Chair Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee
The following was submitted by the office of State Sen. Kathleen O'Connor Ives.
State Sen. Kathleen O'Connor Ives, will serve as Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development in the upcoming legislative session. Additionally, O’Connor Ives will serve as the Vice Chair of Community Development and Small Businesses, and be a rank and file member of the Higher Education, Financial Services and Consumer Protection Joint Committees. On the campaign trail, Senator O’Connor Ives stressed the strong position of the communities in the district-all along the Merrimack River- to leverage the areas’ unique resources and spur economic development.
“Travelers spent 16.9 billion dollars in Massachusetts in 2011. Each city and town in the First Essex District has a tourism economy with growth potential,” O’Connor Ives said. “I’m focused on expanding that success in the Merrimack Valley and communities throughout the Commonwealth. I'm also very happy to Vice Chair the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses. The work on these committees dovetail together well and we know how critical the success of small business is to the success of the larger economy,” O'Connor Ives said.
Her office has hit the ground running since the legislative session officially began on January 2. Senator O’Connor Ives filed six bills by the January 18 legislative filing deadline and co-sponsored thirteen pieces of legislation by the February 1 deadline.
An Act Protecting Consumers from Unsolicited Loans, SD 1008, would prevent credit cards companies from subjecting consumers to receiving “credit card checks” they never request. “People commonly get these checks in the mail and this can easily result in identity theft and unauthorized use of credit lines. Consumers are inconvenienced with having to shred them to avoid theft and it shouldn’t be their burden. If this legislation passes, credit card companies could mail these checks only after they’re requested by the consumer,” O’Connor Ives said.
Senator O’Connor Ives also filed SD 1016 entitled, An Act Relative to Welfare Reform. This bill would require: (a) any electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card issued to an eligible recipient to bear the recipients photograph on the card, (b) require any retailer that accepts electronic benefit transfer cards to post the Department of Transitional Assistance EBT fraud hotline in a visible area, and (c) list on each application and renewal form, those items which are prohibited from purchase with EBT cards. “It’s essential that we take the simple steps necessary to combat fraud in the system so it can continue to work for the people that need it,” O’Connor Ives said.
There has been a recently recognized healthcare problem in Massachusetts where seniors are being prescribed psychotropic drugs in nursing care facilities, drugs that are harmful to long-term health and sometimes results in preventable death. SD 1020, An Act Relative to Psychotropic Medications would require nursing homes, rest homes or other long term care facilities to first obtain informed consent from their patients or patients’ health proxy when prescribing psychotropic medications.
SD 1018, An Act Relative to Prescription Drug Voice Synthesizers legislation provides an important option for those with impaired vision. The legislation would require health insurance policies that provide prescription drug insurance to cover medically prescribed “audible medication dispensers” that would provide audible information for medication used. “This is a basic need for those with limited eyesight to be able to safely take their prescriptions,” O’Connor Ives said.
SD 1011, An Act Relative To Patient Notification would require that any patient admitted for inpatient care at a medical facility and administered medication be given an information sheet detailing a medication’s use and potential sides effects. “This notification would provide a patient with basic information so they can advocate for their own health and be in a stronger position to make informed decisions about their healthcare,” O’Connor Ives said.
Senator O’Connor Ives also filed legislation related to putting more teeth into the Freedom of Information Act. This bill, SD 1036, An Act Relative to Obtaining Information, adds penalties for noncompliance when requests for public information are made by a person and not acted upon by the office charged with responding to the request for information. When a public office has not complied within thirty days of such a request, a fifty dollar penalty will accrue daily until the information requested is provided.
Senator O’Connor Ives also co-sponsored legislation in the areas of public safety, veterans’ assistance, water quality protection, toxin reduction, strengthened sex offender laws, healthcare, equal access to Department of Mental Health and Department of Development Services for individuals with autism, and for a middle ground between local housing authorities and state-recommended consolidation.