Passing the HEROES Act in Massachusetts

By: State  Rep. Estela Reyes

“Another Spring month has gone by in a flash. The Massachusetts House of Representatives met several times this month to work through the remaining bills before the end of the 2023-2024 Legislative Session. The process to pass a bill into law requires negotiation and a final agreement from the legislative and executive branches of our state government.

This process can be confusing to those who do not engage with it often. To promote clarity and transparency, I will summarize that process here. First, the House of Representatives holds a Formal Session, called for by the House Clerk.

All of the 160 MA Representatives are expected to be present, to debate and vote on predetermined bills. Formal Session also includes voting on amendments which can be filed by individual representatives, and may garner more debate. If you want to know how your Rep voted on specific legislation, all votes are made public and posted on

The Senate then undergoes a similar process to the House. If changes are brought up in the Senate, the bill will go back through the House, then again through the Senate until an agreement is reached. The final step is for the bill to be approved and signed by the Governor. The two branches have until the last day of session, July 31st, to cover all current bills.

In the week leading up to Memorial Day Weekend, the House unanimously passed the HERO Act. The HERO Act, titled An Act honoring, empowering, and recognizing our servicemembers and veterans, modernizes policy on veteran’s access to mental health and healthcare, simplifies the process for veterans to claim benefits, increases their tax credits, changes formal language to be gender-neutral, and allows state-operated veteran homes to exist across the state equally. The State House Representatives honored Memorial Day with legislative action supporting those who have served our country and their loved ones. The HERO Act will next be taken up by the Senate.

I have been an advocate of the HERO Act since it was introduced by Governor Healey. Supporting our veterans in their reentry, and in living a meaningful life, should be guaranteed in Massachusetts. This bill will ensure those rights.

In May, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals, culture, and history is nationally celebrated. AAPI Heritage Month allows time to acknowledge the barriers AA/PI individuals have faced, and to recognize their successes. The State House held wonderful ceremonies, expert panels, and educational briefings to highlight AAPI contributions and concerns in our state.

Lastly this month, thank you to all of the mothers out there. Being a mother is one of the most tiring yet rewarding jobs, often accompanied by other work and responsibilities. It is not easy, but it is worth it.
To those who are no longer with their mother or with their children, we see you too. All forms of motherhood, maternal care, and maternal figures, are precious.”◊