Until she ran for Congress, Liuba Grechen Shirley of New York worked from home as a consultant while caring for her children. In order to campaign, she had to hire a caregiver for her kids.
Shirley went on to lose her congressional race, but she succeed in making it easier for other parents to run for federal office. Her 2018 request to the Federal Election Commission resulted in an advisory opinion saying campaign funds can be used to pay for campaign-related childcare expenses.
However, what is true for the US Senate does not apply to the state Senate. Massachusetts still does not let candidates for state or municipal office use campaign funds to cover childcare expenses. The Office of Campaign and Political Finance considers childcare a “personal” expense, for which campaign funds cannot be used.
A report filed December 30 by a state commission examining the issue of childcare and campaign funds – which the Boston Globe reported on Tuesday – recommended that Massachusetts let campaign funds be used for childcare expenses in cases when childcare is needed as a direct result of campaign-related activities. For example, a candidate could hire a babysitter to attend an evening campaign fundraiser.
Thirteen other states and the federal government already allow this. “There is an abundance of precedence demonstrating that this can be done ethically and effectively,” said the report. Commission members discussed the benefits and pitfalls of allowing campaign funds to be used for childcare and concluded “that the allowance could dramatically impact some candidates’ ability to run for public office, and that clear regulation on the matter was in the best public interest,” according to the report.
The issue has been discussed for the past two legislative sessions. A Somerville school committee candidate raised the issue with lawmakers in 2017. Bills to let state candidates use campaign funds for childcare were introduced in 2017 and again in 2019, and ultimately resulted in the creation of the study commission. Similar bills have been reintroduced again this session, by Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville and Reps. Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Joan Meschino of Hull.
The commission was led by the chairs of last session’s Election Laws Committee, Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover and Rep. John Lawn of Watertown.
In an interview, Finegold, who remains the committee chair, said he thinks the bill wasn’t passed previously because lawmakers needed more time to look at the policy – and last year it ran into the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the report is out, Finegold said, he is hopeful the childcare provision could become part of a larger campaign finance bill this session. He believes it could give more people, particularly parents of young children, the opportunity to run for office.
“The last thing I’d want someone to do is not run for office because they feel they can’t have proper care for their child,” Finegold said.
The Senate’s point person on transportation files legislation calling for hikes in the gas tax and ride-share fees to support a fare-free MBTA.
The Baker administration, which cut hospitals off from vaccine supplies on February 11, is changing course, allowing them to begin limited vaccinations again on Monday.
The House crushes a transparency rules amendment and declines to go along with reforms proposed by the Senate.
Former state rep David Nangle of Lowell pleads guilty to federal charges of misusing campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.
Opinion: Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts says it’s time to bring greater transparency to the Legislature. … Four organizations are trying to level the education playing field by making pods work for everyone, write Amanda Fernandez of Latinos for Education, James Morton of the YMCA of Greater Boston, Robert Lewis of The BASE, and Vanessa Calderón-Rosadois of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Two construction workers are hit by a truck and killed at a construction site in Boston. (WBUR)
Lowell Mayor John Leahy calls for the resignation of a school committee member, Robert Hoey, Jr., who used an anti-Semitic slur Wednesday morning on a live cable access television show. (Boston Globe)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh proposes $25.5 million in community preservation grants, including $59,000 to restore and illuminate the Walter Baker sign above the former chocolate factory in Dorchester. (Dorchester Reporter)
A Swampscott employee secures a harassment prevention order against conservative radio host Dianna Ploss. (Daily Item)
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse is a finalist to become the next town manager in Provincetown. (MassLive)
Oops they did it again: The state’s vaccine sign-up website appears to be teetering this morning under the weight of heavy traffic. (Boston Herald)
Gov. Baker highlights improvements to the Massachusetts vaccine appointment website. (MetroWest Daily News) The state has reversed course and will again send vaccine doses to hospitals. (Boston Globe)
More questions than clear answers about extra vaccine doses at Northeastern University and who got to receive them. (Boston Herald)
A tale of two cities hard-hit by COVID — one, Central Falls in Rhode Island, has been fully vaccinated, while most residents of Chelsea in Massachusetts are still waiting for shots. (Associated Press)
Experts look for reasons why the COVID pandemic is slowing down. (MassLive) COVID cases in US nurses homes, the epicenter of the early months of the pandemic, have fallen by more than 80 percent and deaths are down by 65 percent. (New York Times)
The US Food and Drug Administration finds the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective, setting the stage for approval for use. (NPR)
US Rep. Lori Trahan introduces a bill in Congress that would let college athletes get paid for things like endorsements or advertising that uses their image. (Eagle-Tribune)
The Massachusetts House seeks to extend mail-in voting for local elections held through June. (MassLive)
Boston mayoral candidate Andrea Campell calls for cutting the Boston Police Department budget by about $50 million and doing away with its gang and bicycle units. (Boston Globe)
A proposed bill would require insurers to cover businesses’ pandemic-related losses. (Gloucester Daily Times)
A Fall River HVAC company accuses Suffolk Construction, in charge of the $263 million B.M.C. Durfee High School construction project, of allegedly trying to “cover up” deficiencies. (Herald News)
More than 300 companies were cited for violating state labor laws amid the pandemic last year, according to a report from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office. (Salem News)
Doyle’s, the iconic Jamaica Plain watering hole, may not be dead and gone after all. (Universal Hub)
Conflicts at Smith College have brought out a clash of race and class issues, with some of the elite school’s lower-wage campus employees chewed up and largely ignored in the process. (New York Times)
The state’s new pooled testing program is allowing Rockport students to return to school in person after being remote since mid-December. (Gloucester Daily Times)
An undisclosed buyer is seeking to start a new small college at the site of the closed Atlantic Union College campus in Lancaster. (Telegram & Gazette)
A Northampton middle school principal tapes an online educational video about why students should stop using the Confederate flag as their background during the remote learning. He’s attacked online by a white supremecist group, and now students and staff are holding anti-racism protests to support him. (MassLive)
A proposed bill would set mandatory deadlines for the RMV to suspend the license of drivers who lost the right to drive in another state. (MassLive)
Due to a new calculation on how the Federal Emergency Management Agency assesses risk, Cape property owners might see a significant price hike in their flood insurance plans. (USA Today Network)
Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins says Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White should be reinstated if the investigation of an alleged 1999 domestic violence incident is going to drag on. Meanwhile, the story gets more murky as White’s ex-wife and younger daughter post messages that contradict his older daughter’s recent assertion that White did nothing wrong. (Boston Globe)
At a contentious hearing, prosecutors say they will seek to introduce evidence that a Black Lives Matter supporter from Swampscott accused of assaulting an 80-year-old Trump supporter had previous confrontations with others during protests. (Salem News)
A new report issued by the New York Times calls for building a culture at the newspaper that works for all employees. Nieman Journalism Lab has excerpts of the report, which comes at a time when the newsroom is very divided. Here’s the full report.
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan weighs in on use of the “n-word.”
Former Gloucester city clerk Linda Lowe, an expert in municipal law who also worked as the city’s general counsel, dies at 72. (Gloucester Daily Times)