(BOSTON) – This week, The Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators announced the selection of five legislative priorities for the 2023-2024 legislative session, including H.669 / S.422, An Act supporting parents running for public office, which would allow campaign funds to be used to pay for child care that would not exist but for the campaign. Filed jointly by State Representatives Joan Meschino (D-Hull) and Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) in the House and in the Senate by State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), this legislation promotes equity and leads to a more diverse elected body by supporting a more diverse candidate pool.
The childcare funding bill was previously a legislative priority for the Women’s Caucus in the 192nd Legislative Session. Last year, the amended Senate version of the bill was engrossed while the House version was sent to study, thereby tabling the legislation.
“I am grateful to the Women’s Caucus for continuing to make campaign funds for childcare a priority,” said Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “By removing one of the economic barriers parents and guardians face as they seek opportunities in public service, the pathway to elected office can become more accessible. I look forward to critically engaging with my colleagues in the Legislature to continue to support efforts aimed at positively impacting women’s issues in Massachusetts.”
“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. “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,” stated Representative Connolly. “In order to achieve greater diversity in our elected bodies we need to eliminate barriers to entry potential candidates face like child care.”
Other areas of focus for the Women’s Caucus this session include the establishment of a living wage for human service workers, regulation of salary transparency, healthcare coverage for postpartum depression, and access for free menstrual products for vulnerable populations.
The Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators was founded in 1975 with a mission to improve the economic well-being and equality of women and to encourage and support women in all levels of government. As of the current Legislative Session, the Caucus has 63 members—comprising about 30% of the Legislature. Representative Meschino continues to serve as a board member of the bipartisan group.