October 17, 2017: State Representatives Lori Ehrlich and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Chairs of the Sexual Assault Working Group, release statement on recent incidents related to sexual assault and harassment
BOSTON, MA —As Chairs of the Women’s Caucus Sexual Assault Working Group, we call on all men and women in the Commonwealth to rally together to start the cultural shift of treating women with dignity and respect.
The recent examples of men abusing their positions of power to sexually harass and assault women are sickening, are far too common and been happening for far too long. When you have men in power exhibiting, accepting, and promoting predatory behavior, it not only encourages others to act the same, but teaches children that such behavior is acceptable. We must engage in conversation that challenges these norms and weakens the power of those who prey on women.
It is time that we shy away from our unconscious biases. It is time we believe the victims and elevate the voices that are too commonly ignored. It should not take a lawsuit or a famous actress for the general public to believe the prevalence of sexual harassment.
This week, millions of women shared their personal stories of sexual assault and harassment in the #metoo movement on social media. The fact that by Monday afternoon the hashtag had been used half a million times on twitter alone affirms the magnitude of the problem. However, these women should not have to out themselves as survivors in order for systemic change to occur.
We formed the Sexual Assault Working Group at the end of 2016 to facilitate discussions around these very issues. We are proud to support two bills that would have a direct effect on the sexual assault epidemic on higher education campuses. The first bill, H.2998, An Act creating a sexual assault climate survey for Massachusetts colleges and universities establishes a campus climate survey that all institutions of higher learning would administer anonymously to gain feedback from students on the sexual violence epidemic. These responses would help institutions understand the barriers to resources, and also help institutions determine best practices to eliminate sexual violence.
The second bill, H.632, An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses is aimed at standardizing disciplinary processes to help decrease the barriers that discourage students from reporting sexual violence incidents. The bill ensures that all students and employees at colleges and universities are aware of their school’s policies around sexual assault, and that survivors know what resources are available to them. There is also mandatory sexual violence and stalking prevention training component to H.632 to stop incidents before the harm is done.
These bills are especially important given the recent rollback of the Title IX protections put in place by the Obama administration, which directed schools to take immediate action to investigate each reported incident, provide procedures and the same appeal rights for both the accuser and accused, and use the preponderance of the evidence standard to resolve complaints.
It is our hope that Massachusetts will lead the way in passing these two pieces of legislation to protect the thousands of students who attend our excellent higher education institutions in the Commonwealth.
These two bills are specific in addressing sexual violence on higher education campuses, but sexual violence goes well beyond college campuses. As the women of the #metoo movement, Harvey Weinstein’s victims, and all the women who have ever shared their stories have demonstrated, sexual violence is a problem that is prevalent in all areas of society. While these bills cannot alone change behavior, their passage will be positive steps in fighting gendered systemic injustice.
October 12, 2017: House passes ban on bump stocks after Las Vegas massacre
BOSTON — This week the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a ban on “bump stocks”, the gun modification device central to the Las Vegas massacre. The amendment, sponsored by State Representative David Linsky (D-Natick), bans the sale, purchase, or ownership of a bump stock for a gun. According to police and media reports, the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 in the worst shooting in modern American history had twelve firearms equipped with bump stocks.
The bump stocks ban amendment, which passed in the House of Representatives by a margin of 151-3, earned praise from 8th Essex State Representative Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead).
“Bump stocks, implicated in the Las Vegas massacre last week, circumvent our laws against automatic weapons by increasing a semi-automatic weapon’s rate of fire from 45-60 rounds per minute to between 400-800,” Ehrlich said. “There is no justification for that amount of firepower, and I am proud that I and my colleagues voted to ban these instruments that are better suited for the battlefield, not our neighborhoods.”
June 19, 2017: Lynn Nadeau of Marblehead named as a 2017 Unsung Heroine by The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women
BOSTON, MA — The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women has released its list of Unsung Heroines for 2017, which this year includes Marblehead’s Lynn Nadeau. Nadeau, recommended to the Commission by Representative Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead), was recognized for her longstanding commitment to protecting the environment via political and civic activism.
Ms. Nadeau will be honored on Wednesday, June 21 at the Great Hall of the State House from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with other Unsung Heroines from across Massachusetts for her passion and courage in making positive change through organizing as a local in her own community and around the world.
“I’m always proud to nominate these great women who contribute so much to Massachusetts, and Lynn Nadeau is that and so much more,” Ehrlich said. “I have known Lynn for many years now, and have been honored to work alongside her and learn from her as one of our community’s great pillars. She has been a mentor of mine, whom I admire greatly, so I am very glad to have the opportunity to honor her in this way.”
June 6, 2017: Export Development Committee welcomes eighth UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to State House
BOSTON, MA — The 8th Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon visited the State House today to discuss international trade and engagement with the new Joint Committee on Export Development, which aims to develop partnerships between the Commonwealth and other nations and promote Massachusetts as a global economic leader.
A career diplomat and public servant, Ban served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 2007-2016. Highlights of his tenure include the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, advancing the Millennium Development Goals, and building diverse coalitions to address global challenges. He has local roots as well, having graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School with a Master’s in Public Administration in 1984 and currently serving as Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Topics at the joint committee’s luncheon with Mr. Ban included climate change, the global economy and international development. Mr. Ban was also recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives by Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). Export Development House Chair Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) and Senate Chair Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell) were proud to welcome the former secretary general to the legislature and the State House.