In eight years in the Mass. State Senate, and even earlier in six years in the Mass. House of Representatives, Mike crafted a record beyond expectations for a state legislator:
- Education. In 1990 Mike wrote an attention-getting cover story for the Atlantic Monthly advocating a longer school day and year for American students, triggering a debate that continues to this day. The next year, the US Congress created a National Education Commission on Time and Learning and named Mike one of nine national commissioners.
- Jobs and employment. Intensely involved in economic and employment issues, Mike chaired the Education and Job Training Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures and served as founding member of the state’s Older Workers Task Force. In 1989, in an early effort to investigate work conditions for staff in human services, he successfully promoted creation of a Special Commission on Worker Availability for Elderly Care, which he then led as Senate chair.
- Human and civil rights. In 1989, after other efforts had failed for 17 years, Mike led a difficult but ultimately successful fight in a then-resistant State Senate for passage of Massachusetts’ first law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Marking the victory, the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts hailed Mike’s “great courage and independence” and “enormous political skill.”
- Issues of concern to women. Since the very start of his career – when it really mattered – Mike has been unwaveringly pro-choice. In 1992 he drafted and won passage of a first-in-the-nation domestic violence registry law, requiring that the state’s criminal record systems be networked together and that judges check on abusers’ past histories before ruling on requests for restraining orders.
- Health care. As Senate chair of the Committee on Health Care, Mike focused on health and human services for retirees, the poor, and those with mental, developmental and physical challenges, earning a Good Government Award from the Mass. Mental Retardation Providers Council.
- Environment. In the Mass. House of Representatives, Mike chaired the body’s Environmental Caucus. Working with colleagues, he served as the House’s prime architect of the state’s Hazardous Waste Superfund statute. In the Senate he was lead sponsor of the state’s Toxic Use Reduction Act, for which he received a “Best Bets” award from the National Center for Policy Alternatives. In 1984 the Environmental Lobby of Massachusetts gave him its Special Achievement Award.
- Leadership. Mike has been named Legislator of the Year by the Mass. Municipal Association, the Greater Boston Association for Retarded Citizens and the Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council. Boston Magazine named him “Best Democratic Rising Star” and both the Boston Phoenix and the Lowell Sun named him one of the Ten Best Legislators in Massachusetts.