Massachusetts lawmakers plan to prioritize criminal justice, health care reform in 2018

House lawmakers await health care reform bill

Massachusetts State House Photo: Thinkstock

BOSTON (WWLP)—Lawmakers are gearing up to get back to work on Beacon Hill. Passing a sweeping health care reform bill and updating the states criminal justice policies are two top priorities for lawmakers this year.

State Representative John Scibak (D-South Hadley) told 22News the House needs to take action on a health care reform bill.

“We’re going to act this Spring. Part of that also, I think, is the ambiguity in terms of what happens in Washington in terms of what the impact is of repeal, replace, adjust the Affordable Care Act,” Scibak said.

The Senate passed a sweeping health care reform bill in November aimed at reducing hospital readmissions and reducing unexpected out-of-network costs to consumers.

Criminal justice reform is also on lawmakers to-do list this session. Both the House and Senate have approved their own versions of bills that would change the state’s criminal justice policies. The bills now rest in the hands of a conference committee tasked with compromising on a final proposal.

Both the House and Senate proposals included provisions that would raise the current threshold where larceny is considered a felony. The Senate bill would increase the felony larceny threshold from $250 to $15-hundred and the House would set it at one thousand dollars.

“We need to really look at our criminal justice laws periodically, go back and review them, make sure that they are keeping pace with where society is today, and I think the felony threshold level is one of those examples,” State Rep. Michael Day (D-Stoneham) said.

The bills must be approved by both chambers and get the governor’s signature before they can become law.