In the wake of the terrible shootings in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16, 2021, the Massachusetts House of Representatives adopted A Resolution Supporting Asian and Asian-American Communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Monday, April 5, 2021. The tragic Atlanta mass shooting, which killed eight victims, including six women of Asian descent, is one of many instances of anti-Asian violence, hate, and discrimination, which has sharply risen 150% nationally as a result of anti-Asian rhetoric related to COVID-19.

The bi-partisan House Asian Caucus (Representatives Tram Nguyen, Maria Robinson, Vanna Howard, Erika Uyterhoeven, Tackey Chan, Donald Wong, Rady Mom, and Paul Schmid) drafted the House Resolution, which firmly and resolutely states that anti-Asian rhetoric, racism, discrimination, scapegoating, and xenophobia must stop. The Resolution was signed by 120 House members who stand united in solidarity with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and condemn and denounce all forms of anti-Asian bigotry and violence.

“This Resolution is a reaffirming message to our AAPI communities that you are seen, loved, and supported. We will not be silent, we will remain steadfast in opposing anti-Asian sentiments nationally and within our great Commonwealth, and we will continue to work to make our communities more inclusive and safer for everyone,” stated lead sponsor Rep. Tram Nguyen (D-Andover). “I want to thank Speaker Mariano, the House Asian Caucus, House Counsel, the House Clerk, and all of our colleagues who signed on to this meaningful document.”

“In the face of this wave of racially-motivated violence it is crucial that we come together to protect and support our AAPI communities. This resolution sends a powerful message to those who would wish harm upon our neighbors that hate is not welcome in our Commonwealth,"” said Representative Steven Ultrino (D – Malden).“We still have a lot of work to do, but I am proud of my colleagues for taking a stand against anti-Asian violence and will myself remain a vigilant advocate for the AAPI community in Malden and throughout Massachusetts.”

On April 1st, 2021, Attorney General Maura Healey released a report finding that in the last five years individual customers who received their electricity from competitive suppliers paid $426 million more on their bills than they would have paid had they stayed with their utility companies. These harmful practices have affected approximately 450,000 individual residential customers in the state and have disproportionately burdened low-income residents and residents in communities of color.

The report’s findings highlight an urgent need to pass legislation refiled by AG Healey, Sen. Brendan Crighton, and Rep. Frank Moran that would ban these companies from signing up new customers, sending a clear statement that this behavior will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth.

“Attorney General Healey’s report sheds light on an unacceptable pattern of exploitation of low-income communities and communities of color by competitive energy suppliers. We in the legislature have not only the ability, but the responsibility to stand up to competitive electricity supplies and put an end to their exploitative practices,” said Representative Steven Ultrino (D- Malden). “The exploitation of vulnerable communities has no place in our Commonwealth. I’m grateful to the Attorney General and my colleagues in the House and Senate for filing this legislation to protect our most vulnerable communities from these predatory business practices.”

The AG’s report found that low-income customers are nearly twice as likely to sign up with individual competitive suppliers and that they are also charged higher rates than non-low-income customers. According to the report, higher earners who receive their electricity from competitive electric suppliers lose an average of $194 annually, while low-income customers lose even more—an annual average of $241.

The report also found that consumer losses in this market are disproportionately borne by residents in areas with a higher concentration of low-income and residents of color. In September of 2019 alone, Worcester residents collectively lost nearly $400,000 to competitive electric suppliers—more than any other city or town in the state. Residents in other diverse communities, such as Fall River, Lowell, Brockton, Lynn, and Lawrence lost more than $180,000 in the same month.

Over the last five years, the Attorney General’s Energy and Telecommunications Division has prioritized protecting Massachusetts’ residential electricity suppliers. The division has thus far recovered more than $15 million for Massachusetts customers harmed by these companies—including over $7.25 million from a settlement with Starion Energy in August 2020. The AG’s Office alleged that the company collectively charged more than 117,000 residents millions more on their electricity than they would have paid had they received electricity from their utility companies. Impacted customers will begin to receive restitution this month. The AG’s Office also secured #3.8 million in restitution through a 2015 settlement with Just Energy and returned $4.6 million to customers it alleges were harmed by Viridian Energy in a March 2018 settlement.

Residents in Massachusetts have filed more than 1,000 complaints with the Attorney General’s Office about competitive Suppliers engaging in aggressive and deceptive tactics, with complaints including conduct such as suppliers pretending to be utility companies to convince customers to provide sensitive information; suppliers harassing customers with repeated calls and home visits; and door-to-door salespeople forcing their way into elderly customers’ homes and refusing to leave without signed contracts.

Since AG Healey first called for reform in this market in 2018, other states including New York, Illinois, and Connecticut have taken steps to protect customers from these deceptive practices.

Any residents with concerns about these deceptive marketing practices should file a complaint at the Attorney General’s Office (at this link or call the customer hotline at (617) 727-8400.

Residents with questions can also contact the Consumer Division of the Department of Public Utilities at (877) 886-5066.

The Health Connector is currently in an extended Open Enrollment period through July 23rd, 2021. This webinar will cover how the American Rescue Plan helps to make coverage more affordable, as well as how uninsured Massachusetts residents can apply by the April 23rd deadline for affordable health coverage that starts May 1st or June 1st, 2021.

If you are interested in learning about how the American Rescue plan provides new savings on monthly premiums when enrolling in health insurance through the Health Connector, sign up for the free webinar—details on the event and how to register can be found below:

Event Details

Title: Need health insurance? New savings are here through the Health Connector

When: April 15th at 9:30AM

Location: Zoom Webinar and/or Conference Call

Link for registration & more details:

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