Legislation Empowering Working Parents Running for Public Office Receives Committee Approval

Legislation to support working parents who choose to run for public office reached a significant milestone this week with a favorable report form the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws.

H.2898, was co-filed by Representatives Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Joan Meschino of Hull and co-sponsored by Somerville Reps. Christine Barber and Denise Provost, Senator Pat Jehlen, Cambridge Rep. Dave Rogers, and several others.

This Bill would simply allow a parent running for public office to use campaign funds they have raised for childcare during the specific instance of doing campaign related activities such as canvassing.

The inspiration for this Bill came from Somerville School Committee member Lee Erica Palmer.  When Palmer was first running for office as a single mother she came across a puzzling inequity. While men could legally use their campaign funds to pay for such personal items such as tuxes for special campaign events, working parents could not expend funds for childcare while they campaigned. This meant Palmer had to spend thousands of dollars out of her own pocket to cover childcare so she could knock on voters’ doors and attend other campaign events.

"Essentially, childcare is so expensive that it can limit citizens’ involvement in their own democracy.  Allowing parents to use campaign funds for childcare specifically during campaign-related activities and events could offer vital flexibility that would enable these parents to more fully participate in their own democracy." Palmer remarked.

The Bill is now with the House Clerk and will be moved to either the House Committee on Steering, Policy, and Scheduling, or the House Committee on Ways and Means, where it will be reviewed further, and then hopefully, will proceed to the floor of the House for a vote, and then the Senate.

“Running for office can be an unthinkable task for many parents due to childcare needs; I am excited to continue working on this Bill so that more working moms and dads can consider running for public office,” Rep. Connolly concluded.