Representative Lori Ehrlich

About Representative Ehrlich

WELCOME! Lori is a resident of Marblehead, graduate of Swampscott High School, and daughter of Lynn. She could not be prouder to represent the community that raised her. She and her husband Bruce have two daughters who both attended Marblehead Public Schools and have gone on to confidently pursue their passions in biomedical science and politics.

EDUCATION: Lori received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Lehigh University, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

PROFESSIONAL: Lori has been a CPA for over three decades, running her own practice while counseling small and medium sized businesses. She is one of only two CPAs in the legislature.

LEADERSHIP: As part of MA Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo's leadership team,  she currently serves as the House Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Export Development, where she has an eye on growing Massachusetts’ trade and expanding access to new markets for Massachusetts businesses.

VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY ACTIVISM: Prior to her election to the legislature in 2008, Lori founded two award-winning grassroots public health nonprofits and led the charge to clean up coal ash from the drinking water for 80,000 residents in Salem, Beverly and parts of Wenham.

She earned the nickname “Mother Grizzly from Marblehead” in honor of her tireless advocacy for her community and the environment. Her experience has earned her widespread recognition at the state level, as well as invitations to testify before Congress in Washington, DC. See Sooty Footprints.

Legislative success: A strong voice for those who are not able to lobby for themselves, Lori filed a bill allowing law enforcement to step in when they see an animal in danger in a hot car and prohibits tethering of animals overnight. Working closely with the MSPCA and the Humane Society, that bill was signed into law in August, 2016. In addition, she is currently advocating for bills to increase our state protections against wildlife poaching, and a state ban on the sale of ivory and rhino horns.

She was one of the authors of the state’s landmark anti-bullying law and received the Anti-Defamation League’s Good Citizenship Award for her work.

She is the lead sponsor of several high profile bills. Her bill to reform non-competition agreements in employment contracts passed both chambers of the legislature, but could not make it out of conference committee deliberations before the legislative deadline passed. Each of these bills have received considerable statewide and national attention, including three invitations from President Obama to the White House and a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. In October 2016, the Obama Administration issued a State Call to Action on non-compete reform, encouraging other states to follow the path she created.

Lori has sponsored or co-sponsored hundreds of bills over the course of her legislative career. If you would like to see some of the bills she's working on this session please click on the red "legislative profile" button below. 

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Rep. Ehrlich welcome 8th Secretary-General of the U.N. Ban Ki-Moon to the State House

Rep. Ehrlich welcome 8th Secretary-General of the U.N. Ban Ki-Moon to the State House


SOOTY FOOTPRINTS

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I am proud of my history of bringing local issues to the state level and getting results. This started when, in 2007, my toddler-age daughters were playing outside on a hot summer day and tracked in greasy black footprints on the white tiles of the kitchen floor. When the local coal-burning power plant responded to my query about the soot with an offer to power wash my deck as long as I released them from any liability, now or in the future, I was dismayed and felt they had really missed my point. It was never about the deck. My concern was for the health of my family and my community. We already had cancer and asthma statistics off the charts.

I began speaking out and writing letters to the local newspaper about my experience and concern. In very little time, I helped to found a citizens action group we named "HealthLink". HealthLink organized the community to take action sometimes in the form of letters, phone calls or protest, as well as in the halls of the MA State House.

It didn't take long before my activism for clean air led me to discover another coal-burning related problem -- contaminated drinking water. Since the power plant was built in 1954 the toxic solid waste left behind from burning coal was carelessly and illegally dumped right next to Wenham Lake, a drinking water supply for 80,000 local residents. Over the decades, the waste pit had migrated and now sat 6 feet deep at the base of the lake, next to the drinking water.

I teamed up with Jan Schlichtmann, the lawyer behind the ground-breaking environmental law case in Woburn that inspired the book “A Civil Action”. Through citizen activism, science, and legal action we convinced the original owners of the power plant to clean up their mess, The cleanup spanned 6 years and cost an estimated $10 million, preserving the drinking water for generations to come. The coal power plant shut down as well, improving the quality of life for all the surrounding communities.

The journey for clean air and water in my community illustrates the need for perseverance when truth is on your side but power is not. I will never forget the lessons I learned from this fight. The power of the grassroots is awesome. Armed with facts and passion we were able protect the health of an entire region of our state but that same grassroot approach can truly work for anything we put our mind to.  

My story is a reservoir of experience I bring to the State House every day as I work for all of you. 


Policy Priorities 

 

Civil Rights 

Massachusetts can be proud of our history as a pioneer in ensuring that everyone can fully participate in civic life. We were long a hotbed of abolitionism, we were the first state to make gay marriage legal, and recently I was proud to vote to ensure that no one can be discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity. Our state’s commitment to equality and justice stands in sharp contrast to the regressive rhetoric coming out of Washington DC recently, where 1.5 billion Muslim people are inherently viewed with suspicion, and brave men and women who want to lay down their lives for their country are told they are not wanted because of their gender identity.  The fight for civil rights takes constant vigilance. I am committed to ending discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age and disability, and to ensuring equal and meaningful opportunity for every Massachusetts resident to participate in a civic society in areas such as education, housing, employment, financial services, healthcare, transportation, voting, and marriage. 


Education

Massachusetts is consistently rated as having the best schools in the country, but that does not mean there isn’t room for improvement. Instead of turning to privatization, which adds a profit layer to the cost of educating our children and erodes our best-in-the-nation public school system, we need to focus on improving and innovating while ensuring teachers have the tools they need to do their important work. We must invest in our children so they are prepared to meet the long-term needs of the 21st Century. In so doing, we provide the Commonwealth of the future with a skilled and educated workforce underpinning our economy. We have a duty to educate the next generation, not only for economic reasons, but because we have a moral obligation to leave the world better than we found it, and today's students are tomorrow's voters, civic leaders, and global citizens.


Energy & Environment 

Before running for office was even a thought of mine, I was a grassroots volunteer for about a decade creating two grassroots groups with nationally-recognized success, to protect the local environment from a coal-burning power plant that had contaminated our air and drinking water. Energy and Environmental policy is truly at my core and something I studied while earning a Master's degree at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Unfortunately, the environment is being squeezed out by climate science denial, the financial heft of the fossil fuel industry, and limited governmental resources. At the same time, spending on storm damage continues to climb as American cities are targeted by more powerful storms and sea-level rise. We can either make the smart move and invest in preserving our environment now or pay much more for our negligence later. Our state already has some of the strongest environmental laws and programs in the country, but we can still do much more. As a State Representative, I have always stepped up with legislation and leadership.


Serving in the role of Vice Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee for one session allowed me to appreciate the need for control of costs, which are budget-busters at every level of government, while preserving the level of care for those in need. Everyone deserves access to high-quality, affordable healthcare, and we should all be proud to live in a state that was a pioneer in universal insurance coverage. I am committed to maintaining that distinction. As two diametrically opposed ideologies approach a showdown on the national stage, political leaders in Massachusetts must recommit ourselves to the principles that everyone, regardless of preexisting conditions or ability to pay, should have access to quality affordable health care. 

Health Care


The American dream rests upon America being a land of opportunity where hard work leads to prosperity. Though the labor market in our nation is changing and shifting based on many factors, Massachusetts' job market is robust. In spite of our high employment rates, according to the US Census Bureau, the gap between the rich and the poor in Massachusetts ranks as one of the widest nationwide. We must do everything we can at the state-level to provide access to affordable, quality training and educational opportunities for our under-employed and unemployed workers so they are able to get good jobs with competitive wages. A strong, broad-based economy is key to economic growth.

As the Vice-Chairwoman of The Committee on Labor and Workforce Development for two session, I was able to help pass or forward important labor laws dealing with minimum wage, unemployment benefits, worker training, pay equity, and pregnant worker fairness among others. I have been recognized nationally as a leader in reforming noncompetition agreements, which you can read more about on my legislation page.

Labor & Workforce Development 


One in five Massachusetts residents is a member of our growing community of seniors, a changing demographic whose needs are a priority. Our state and our society overall have an unbreakable pact to care for our seniors as they grow older. Older citizens want the same thing as everyone else; access to affordable housing and quality health care, but they also have special needs that must be met due to fixed incomes and health concerns. At the same time I feel it is a mistake to characterize seniors as an entirely separate class of citizens because they have so much to give back to the community and generations that follow them. There are endless opportunities I support to integrate seniors into the community so we do not isolate them completely and squander their valuable experience and wisdom. 

Protecting Our Seniors


In the Metro Boston area we know how important an efficient, accessible, and affordable public transportation system is. For so many reasons, the connectivity transportation provides is absolutely essential to our economy and to all of the individuals who use it. Our environmental, economic, development, and housing goals are all deeply related to the quality of the Commuter Rail, the T, our bus lines, our ferry system, and The Ride. Fewer cars on the road helps us meet our climate goals, while easing commutes, while consistent, punctual T rides are necessary if Greater Boston is to continue to compete with other world class metro areas.

Our residents deserve a quality transit system that does not solely rely on aggressive privatization as the only solution. Just as the benefits of a strong transit system are varied, so too are the causes, and a better transportation future for all of us will require effort on several fronts. I am determined to contribute to building a top-notch transportation system that is environmentally-conscious, affordable, and effective.

Transportation


I am a longtime champion of women's reproductive rights including access to birth control, pre and post-natal care, and sex education. Women should also have access to mammograms and other types of preventative health care that ensure safe and healthy lives. Women deserve the right to unlock their potential to pursue their goals and achieve them, and providing equitable and effective access to all available forms of healthcare is key to providing that opportunity.

As the Co-Chair of the sexual assault working group in the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators I am also very passionate about preventing dangerous situations for women on college campuses and elsewhere. 

Women's Health 


Our veterans, who express a willingness to put their lives on the line when they enlist or in the case of many, were drafted, deserve to return home to programs that care for them with the utmost attention, quality, and respect. Massachusetts is often recognized with the highest rating among all 50 states for veteran care.  This is a tremendous source of pride but not something we take for granted. Addressing post-traumatic stress disorder, veteran homelessness and unemployment, and problems in veterans’ healthcare are all top priorities of mine as we continue to find ways to do more. 

Veterans