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Statewide Legislative Platform

MDSC Advocates meeting with Ways & Means Chair Brian Dempsey(L to R) Katherine Craven, Jane Lane, Maureen Gallagher, John Anton,
Ways & Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey and Dr. Brian Skotko.

Each year, the MDSC’s Legislative Advocacy Task Force reviews the scores of disability-related bills proposed by our friends in the Massachusetts legislature. From among them, the task force selects approximately a dozen pieces of proposed legislation that are the most consistent with our mission of ensuring that individuals with Down syndrome in the state are valued, included, and given opportunities to pursue fulfilling lives.

This slate of bills is approved by the MDSC Board of Directors and is known as our Legislative Platform. Each bill may be filed in the House, the Senate or both. Given limited resources, the MDSC chooses one or two “priority bills,” toward which the MDSC is able to devote significant resources. The MDSC also puts its weight behind the 10 “support bills” on our statewide platform, though to a lesser degree.

The late Massachusetts politician Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” Indeed, we at the MDSC understand that the most effective method for getting our bills made into law is for you to reach out to your local state representatives and senators. Let them know what you care about and how they should vote. Even a single call from a single constituent can easily put a bill on a legislator’s radar that wasn’t before, transforming disinterest into advocacy.

To find your legislator, visit the Massachusetts Legislature’s recently revamped website.

John Anton with Speaker DeLeo

The MDSC Makes Legislative History - June 2012

June 22, 2012 was an historic day for people with Down syndrome, their families and those who love them in Massachusetts. Just after noon, in the Governor's chambers of the State House, surrounded by more than a dozen legislative leaders, parents of people with Down syndrome and self-advocates, Governor Patrick signed landmark legislation that promises to bolster a bright future for the Down syndrome community in the Bay State. 

An Act Relative to Down Syndrome Genetic Test Results (H3825), modeled on the national Kennedy-Brownback bill, will have a tremendous impact for decades to come. 

The law mandates that new or expectant parents of children with Down syndrome are given the latest, culturally-appropriate information about what it means to have a child with Down syndrome and contact information for services to ensure they have access to the supports that every family in their position needs. The legislation specifically identifies the MDSC's Parents First Call Program as a key resource for these families, formally recognizing our signature outreach program, which is a national model in the field.

The bill, the broadest state legislation of its kind in the nation, was sponsored by Rep. Tom Sannicandro of Ashland, whose son David has Down syndrome and Senator Katherine Clark of Melrose. Both have been tireless champions of good disability policy. Given recent scientific developments around prenatal diagnosis, it was critical to get a bill like this on the books. 

The future is indeed bright for the Down syndrome community in Massachusetts. See the complete communication about the passage of the Prenatal Bill from our Executive Director here

2013-2014 Priority Bills (187th Session of Mass. General Court)

Click here for the complete MDSC 2013-2015 Statewide Legislative Platform

To find your legislator, visit the Massachusetts Legislature’s recently revamped website.

Testimony in support of bills on MDSC’s platform

An Act to require national background checks

For the most updated information on our priority bills or to get involved in the MDSC's advocacy efforts, please contact us at timetospeakout@mdsc.org.