Archive for 8 August 2008

Midwifery Bill mention in newsletter from Rep. Wolf

Just an FYI, the Board of Midwifery bill was mentioned in this
newsletter from Rep. Wolf (Cambridge).
Thu Aug 7, 2008 11:50 am
Laurie Friedman <friedmanlau@…>

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Representative Alice Wolf Newsletter


August 2008

In This Issue
An Exciting Week on the Hill
One Step Forward, One Step Back
Legislative Wrap-Up
Budget Veto Overrides
Student Loans Available
Informal Sessions

 An Exciting Week on the Hill

Formal sessions in the Legislature came to an end at midnight on July 31st.  For me, the highlight of the last week of sessions was attending the Governor’s signing of two pieces of legislation: the Early Childhood Education bill and the repeal of the “1913 law” prohibiting out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriage would be void in their home state.  I have been working on these important issues for decades.
Governor Patrick, legislators and supporters gather to repeal the 1913 law.
Governor Patrick, legislators and supporters at the 1913 law repeal ceremony in the State House.

One Step Forward, One Step Back

The House took up the question of gender equity in insurance on July 23rd, first approving a bill to allow Savings Bank Life Insurance (SBLI) to discriminate on the basis of gender and then passing legislation to require annuity policies sold in Massachusetts to be gender-neutral. 

I was a sponsor of the annuities bill, and argued against allowing SBLI to reverse its policy of selling insurance on a gender-neutral basis.  Although proponents of the change argued that being gender-neutral put SBLI at a competitive disadvantage, I believe that gender equity is good business under any circumstances, and I said so during the debate.  Unfortunately, however, the House (and later the Senate) voted to allow SBLI to strike its non-discrimination policy from the General Laws.  We don’t know yet whether the Governor will sign this bill. 
Those of us arguing in favor of gender equity had more success with the legislation requiring gender-neutral annuities.  The House voted overwhelmingly to pass this important bill, and the Senate followed suit the next day.  Governor Patrick has signed the bill.  Many thanks to Betsy Dunn of Cambridge and to Norma Shapiro of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts for their years of effective advocacy on this issue.

Legislative Wrap-Up

Several other major pieces of legislation passed by the Legislature over the last few weeks are listed below:
  • Global Warming Solutions Act
  • Mental Health Parity
  • Human Service Providers
  • Green Jobs Bill
  • Transportation Bond Bill
  • Environmental Bond Bill
  • Health Care Cost Containment and Transparency (including a marketing code of conduct for pharmaceutical companies, a compromise on the pharmaceutical gift ban)
  • Governor Patrick’s Bridge Improvement Program
I am happy to report that none of the bond bills contained language to transfer control of parkways from DCR to MassHighway.  As many of you know, this is a longstanding concern of mine, and an issue that never seems to be resolved.
Many bills did not get through the Legislature before the end of formal sessions.  There is always the possibility that these bills could advance during informal sessions over the coming weeks and months, but it only takes the objection of a single legislator to stop them.  A few of these bills are listed below:
  • The Expiring Use Housing Bill
  • Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals
  • Board of Registration in Midwifery
  • Divestment from Iran

Budget Veto Overrides
Governor Patrick signed the FY 2009 state budget after using his line item veto power to cut $122.5 million in funding.  Some of those cuts impacted my budget priorities, and I spent the last week of formal sessions working with my colleagues to override those vetoes.  We were successful in restoring funding to the following impacted programs:

  • A pilot program for lower class size in the early grades-a program that I have been championing for a number of years.
  • Family Planning Services
  • Just-A-Start’s Biomedical Careers Program
  • Cambridge Hazmat (equipment for firefighters to ensure safety from hazardous materials)
  • Cambridge Housing Authority Computer Center and Workforce Program

 Student Loans Available

In light of the tough economic times and the recent news that many lenders will be making fewer student loans, the Governor’s office has launched a website with resources for loan alternatives available to students for the coming school year.  The website,, provides information on federal loans and grants, state loans, scholarships and private loans.

If you have other questions or concerns about student loans, you can contact the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance at 617-727-9420 or my office (see sidebar).

Thanks to all of you who contacted my office during the waning days of the session to express your interest in or concern about specific bills before the House.  I like to hear what you are thinking.


My staff, interns and me at the State House.

My staff, interns and I enjoyed hearing from you.


Informal Sessions

The Legislature is now in informal sessions for the rest of the year.  The House and the Senate will each meet twice a week to conduct “routine” business and perhaps to move legislation that is not controversial.  I will also be working on the next term’s agenda in the fall.


Rep. Wolf

Dear Friends,

Welcome to my newsletter!

From time to time, I use these e-mail newsletters to keep in touch with you and keep you abreast of what is going on at the State House.

If you would like additional information on any of the issues mentioned in this newsletter, or if I can help in you in any way, please contact me! If you call, you might find my staff on the line.

Thanks for reading, and please keep in touch!

State House Office:

Tel: (617)722-2400
Fax: (617)722-2850
State House, Room 134
Boston, MA 02133

District Office:
Tel: (617) 868-WOLF
Fax: (617)497-7284


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8 August 2008 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Time magazine reports decent article on home birth

In the current issue, Time covers the increasing trend in homebirth:

“For a normal, healthy pregnancy, the hospital environment is overkill,” says Jessica Reid, 27, a stay-at-home mom in Pasco, Wash.Reid had her first baby in a hospital but plans to have her second–due in late August–at home. “Interventions that neither the mother nor father wish to occur are more likely when surrounded by people who view pregnancy as an illness or labor as inherently dangerous,” she says. “I consider birth sacred and a joy, and I intend to birth my baby in a way that reflects that.”

It mentions Massachusetts’s own MGH obstetrician, Dr. Erin Tracy, who recently drafted the AMA resolution to outlaw homebirth:

“We’ve all seen scenarios where mothers came in, after very major blood loss, in a very catastrophic state,” she says. “By the time they arrive in the hospital, you’re sort of behind the eight ball in trying to resuscitate these patients. The same thing with neonatal outcome.”

I would really like to know the data that showed these unfortunate circumstances where women were actually planning homebirths with qualified certified professional midwives and compare them with the number of women and babies who die in hospitals in the US every year. I am willing to bet the midwife numbers are about the same, if not much better, than the hospital births, especially when you include a post-partum period of seven days or so.

I appreciate that TIme’s reporter cited the 2005 British study showing homebirth equally safe for low-risk women, but I continue to become frustrated for the lack of media attention to our uniquely contentious situation between obstetricians and certified professional midwives that differs so from the established collaboration in most developed countries whose maternal and infant mortality rates are superior to ours.

8 August 2008 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

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