By Bob Katzen
The Elections Laws Committee held a hearing on a bill allowing a candidate for public office to use campaign funds for child care while the candidate is campaigning on his or her own behalf or attending events directly related to his or her campaign. The House gave initial approval to the proposal in the 2017-2018 session, but the bill died in the committee on Bills in Third Reading.
Under current law, candidates are prohibited from using campaign funds for their personal use. The state’s Office of Campaign and Finance has classified childcare while performing campaign duties as a personal expense rather than a campaign expense.
“If we believe representation matters in public office, then we need to break down barriers to entry for underrepresented groups,” said Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge), co-sponsor of the measure. “That’s why I’m proud to be working with Sen. Jehlen, Rep. Meschino, and several other colleagues to make childcare an allowable campaign expense, a concept that was recently adopted by the Federal Election Commission for candidates on the federal level.”
“We should strive for more socio-economic, gender and inter-generational diversity across elected offices in Massachusetts,” said co-sponsor Rep. Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “This bill provides an important mechanism to encourage more representative candidate pools by building equity into our election system.”