(BOSTON) – At a hearing held yesterday by the Joint Committee on Election Laws, legislators and advocates testified on behalf of H.769/S.475, An Act supporting parents running for public office filed by Representatives Joan Meschino (D-Hull), Representative Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) and Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). The legislation would allow donated campaign funds to be used to pay for child care expenses.
Consistent with federal law and similar to legislation passed in seventeen other states, the proposed legislation would update campaign finance law to cover child care expenses that would not exist but for the candidate’s campaign. By removing one of many barriers parents and guardians face as they seek opportunities in public service and by making the pathway to elected office more accessible, this legislation will result in a more diverse and inclusive candidate pool.
These companion bills are refiles and were endorsed this year by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators as part of the Caucus’s “Empowering Women in Government” priority.
This legislation is also consistent with the recommendations of the Special Commission on Family Care and Child Care Services, which was charged with assessing and evaluating the logistics involved with permitting these kinds of campaign expenditures. The Commission found that it would be reasonable for Massachusetts candidates to use donated campaign funds for child care needs when those needs result from the candidate’s campaign activities.
“Child care is essential for parents and guardians who seek elected office,” said Representative Meschino (D-Hull). “However, the cost of child care can be prohibitive to these individuals’ pursuit of positions in public service. This legislation breaks down this economic barrier, granting new opportunity to parents and guardians, fostering equity, and promoting truly representative governance through more diverse candidate pools.”
“This bill would break down a major barrier to open elective office to people who have traditionally not had that opportunity. Many of us currently in office would not be here today if we didn’t have trusted people taking care of our kids while we knocked doors for our first campaigns,” said Senator Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Allowing campaign finances to be used for child care means that more people in our communities can participate than ever before and amplify the voices of those who have previously not been heard.”
“I filed this bill with Representative Meschino and Senator Jehlen to open up our political process and to make it more accessible to working class folks raising young children,” Representative Connolly (D-Cambridge) said. “In order to achieve greater diversity in our elected bodies we need to eliminate barriers to entry potential candidates face like child care.”
The bill is pending before the Joint Committee on Election Laws, and now awaits action by the committee.