2018 Re-election Campaign
Here to Serve You - And Running Again
It's state election season once again, and I am running for re-election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. I look forward to winning your support for my re-election campaign, and carrying on the work I've been doing on Beacon Hill.
20 Albion Street
Somerville, MA 02143
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Committee to Elect Denise Provost
20 Albion Street
Somerville, MA 02143
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Thank you for your support!
Question 1 - Vote YES
As long as I've been in the legislature, I have supported bills to assure safe staffing ratios in health care facilities, so my starting point was a "yes." But I've listened to the arguments for and against, and have been all over the place to collect good information about this matter. I followed the independent and nonpartisan - but non-conclusory - Citizens Initiative analysis of the question: https://www.cirmass.org/the-2018-citizens-statement
I've taken seriously the opposition to Question 1 by our state's excellent community hospitals, which often struggle to keep afloat, while providing good care for all who need it. I considered the report of our state's Health Policy Commission (HPC), which predicted that Question 1 would cost up to $950 million annually. I wondered, though, whether it was appropriate for the HPC to use a cost multiplier of $300,000 per new nurse to reach its conclusion - and how much of the additional staffing costs represent the value which now flows to employers, when nurses are too few and too stretched.
Then, former Massachusetts State Representative John E. McDonough and Paul Hattis -both now university professors - published this opinion piece:
McDonough was the intellectual force behind our Massachusetts universal health care law, and an organizer of the activism which brought it to fruition. I have the greatest esteem for him.
Reading their fair-minded piece, however, I found their assertion that [t]he Legislature should demand that both sides come together to create a more workable set of solutions to improve quality of care in our state's hospitals." Sadly, the goal of 'coming together' to negotiate solutions is what the nurses have been trying to achieve for years. It is the unwillingness of their employers to come to the table which has led them to file bills, and, ultimately, to put Question 1 on the ballot.
It has seemed to me that if nurses were a workforce of mostly men, rather than mostly women, they would be taken more seriously in the halls of power. If the nurses were mostly male, I think that they would have had their negotiated solution. Ultimately, the most compelling take I've read on this standoff is this one:
Hattis and McDonough end their piece - which is worth reading in its entirety - by saying again that "[t]he Legislature should send both parties back to the public policy bargaining table." Yet I feel fairly certain that there will be no further bargaining if Question 1 is defeated. If the nurses lose this fight, they will lose any leverage to bring about what Hattis and McDonough agree (with the HPC) are the "quality-related savings from Question 1."
In this legislative session, both the House and Senate passed bills to address serious inequities in reimbursement rates, which leave many Massachusetts hospitals struggling. The House and Senate bills differed greatly in approach, and the conference committee could not reach agreement. The legislature will have to revisit this legislation in the next session, and could make staffing ratios part of comprehensive legislation to put hospitals on a more equal footing.
Question 1 is admittedly flawed in its inflexibility. Question 1, I believe, was meant to serve as a placeholder for a negotiated agreement that never took place. Like the 2016 cannabis legalization question, 2018's Question 1 is on the ballot because the legislature refused to deal with the issue. And, you know what? The flawed cannabis ballot question did not go into effect as written; it was re-written by the legislature, and is in many ways a much better law for having undergone that process. I say, pass Question 1, so that the legislature will have to fix it - it's the only outcome which will force the legislature to act.
Question 2 - Vote YES
Should Massachusetts create a "citizens' commission" to make recommendations about how to reduces the outsize role of outside money in politics? Why wouldn't we? "Question 2 is part of a national effort to push for new laws to limit the influence of money in politics - specifically, to overturn the 2010 Citizens United v. FECSupreme Court decision."
Personally, I think that the twinned Supreme Court holdings that "corporations are people," and that "money is speech" protected by the first amendment are both bogus and damaging. I can almost hear my constitutional law professors of the past denouncing these democracy-corroding doctrines. Here's a chance to strike a blow against the Citizens United decision - let's do it.
Question 3 - Vote YES
As I've talked to folks in Somerville about the ballot initiatives we'll be faced with this year, I always mention that our hard-won law to assure full legal equality for transgender people is the subject of a repeal referendum. I've been surprised by the number of people who dismiss my concern; many say, essentially, 'this is Massachusetts - it can't happen here.'
I don't rejoice at having my concerns reinforced, but Yasmin Amer at WBUR reported on May 31, 2018: "A new WBUR poll out Thursday finds that a slim majority of Massachusetts voters do not want to repeal a 2016 state law that offers greater protections for transgender individuals in public accommodations. ... According to the WBUR poll, 52 percent of voters oppose getting rid of the law, while 38 percent support its repeal."
Please help spread the word that this referendum question is on the ballot - and that none of us can take the outcome for granted. This fight will likely be closer than expected. To help win this battle over fundamental civil rights, visit https://www.freedommassachusetts.org/ and join one more fight against repealing civil rights.