Archive 2008 - 2019

Updates from the State House

by Senator Karen Spilka

Senate Passes Environmental Bond Bill

Yesterday, the Senate authorized a $1.9 billion, 4 year capital plan providing for the preservation and improvement of land, parks and clean energy in the MetroWest region and across the state. The bill includes funding for energy and environmental infrastructure, water and air quality protection, innovative green projects, recreational trails and other initiatives to preserve and protect natural resources and promote energy efficiency. I was pleased to advocate for projects specifically for MetroWest. Well-maintained, accessible recreational trails and open space have a significant impact on quality of life, and these projects will encourage people to get outdoors, be active and create connections with the community while enjoying the beautiful natural resources our region has to offer.

Read about the MetroWest trails, parks and open space projects included in the bill.


Senate Passes Bill to Assist Individuals With Autism

Senator Spilka at Full Circle Arts, a Justice Resource Institute employment training program where adults with developmental disabilities create and sell beautiful art, accessories and crafts at a Natick shop.

This week, we unanimously passed a bill to expand treatment and support for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual or developmental disabilities. We must continue to ensure that everyone has access to the tools and support they need to overcome challenges, realize their abilities and thrive in our communities.

The bill creates a 35-member commission on autism within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to make recommendations about how to improve services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. It requires MassHealth to cover medically necessary treatments for individuals who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and expands the types of services that are available through the Department of Developmental Services. Additionally, the bill creates new licensing requirements for programs that provide residential or day care services and treatment for people with developmental disabilities, and it includes initiatives to help support a successful learning environment for students with autism.

Read the press release about the bill here.

Senate Passes Juvenile Sentencing Legislation

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill making juveniles convicted of first degree murder eligible to be considered for parole after serving prison sentences of 20 to 30 years. The Senate voted in favor of my amendment to reverse a harsh provision in the original bill that would require these individuals to wait 10 years in between parole hearings, as opposed to the current law's 5 year setback.

The bill is a response to recent U.S. and state Supreme Court rulings striking down the prison sentence of life without parole for juveniles, declaring it unconstitutional. Though the life sentences of juvenile offenders sentenced before these rulings remain in place, they must now be given a meaningful opportunity to ask for parole. Although we all have a visceral reaction to violent crimes, particularly by juveniles, our approach is guided by the accepted scientific findings that a child's brain is not fully developed until the early twenties, and young people almost always age out of violent impulsive behavior. The crimes of youthful offenders must be punished, but once brain development is complete, it may be possible for them to be rehabilitated and lead productive lives, rather than being warehoused in prison into old age.


Click here to read an op-ed I wrote about this issue in May.

As always, if you would like additional information or have any concerns or comments, please do not hesitate to call my office at (617) 722-1640 or email me at

Warm Regards,



Senator Karen E. Spilka

2nd Middlesex and Norfolk

Comments (1)

Too bad we can't spend money on roads.

john greendale | 2014-07-13 11:30:37