Always a strong advocate for the veterans of his district and the Commonwealth, John supported the SPEED Act, signed into law in August 2022, which speeds up the professional licensure process for military spouses so they can continue their careers, improves school transitions for military children, and ensures in-state tuition for military-connected college students.
Also, for many years John has worked to increase the allowance paid to Gold Star families and the annual payment for disabled veterans. Working with Sen. John Velis, a veteran, the Senate has passed the increase and work is underway to get it to the Governor’s desk.
And, a while back a veteran came to John, concerned that cities and towns were including tax liens on Veterans’ homes in those sold to aggressive private collection agencies. He felt they should be handled locally, by those who know the Veterans best. John listened and then went to work, successfully amending the HOME Act, a Veterans’ bill signed by the Governor, to prohibit the practice.
Throughout his time in government, from the Quincy City Council to the State Senate, John has worked to secure essential benefits for Veterans.
Women's Reproductive Rights
When John was first elected, opioid death rates were climbing year over year. As Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, he went to work.
John has been instrumental in conceiving, drafting, and passing landmark legislation. 4 major bills. A national model data collection, analysis and application tool. First-in-the-nation sober home certification, partial fill, and Big Pharma funded drug disposal programs. New treatment programs for at risk inmates. Access to treatment from emergency departments. Mandated insurance coverage for alternative pain management options and for addiction treatment. Education and prevention programming. Integrated housing and medical and behavioral health supports. And, harm reduction programming.
Still, the opioid epidemic fight was missing an important tool – data.
So, John introduced a proposal that became law. The Institute for Excellence in Government calls it, “a model of data-driven and interdisciplinary resolve, with results that have begun to turn the tide.” The Massachusetts Medical Society says it is “the first of its kind in the country, and is generating breakthrough findings on the manifestations of opioid use disorder.”
Since peaking in 2016, overdose deaths dropped in Massachusetts through the start of the COVID pandemic, but tragically climbed again. John knows there is still so much more to do.
Standing With Workers
As a kid, John sold newspapers at the Wollaston T station. The Red Line took him to high school, college, law school, graduate school, and to the State House. As a regular T rider, John knew it was time for a new Wollaston station. Time to make it ADA compliant, and time to fix flooding problems.
John worked with the T to fast track the project, cutting months off the construction schedule and saving millions in the process. Now it’s done.
John has also worked to secure funding for new Red Line and Orange Line trains, for signal upgrades, rail replacements, winterization work, and garage and station repairs all along the Red Line.
Other priorities include Chapter 90, i.e. funding for local roads and bridges, and funding for the Complete Streets program, which has resulted in road, sidewalk, and lighting upgrades throughout the district. John continues as well to push for regular, reliable ferry service throughout Boston Harbor, and connecting to Quincy and the South Shore, and Lynn and the North Shore.
John's father was a newspaper mailer and long-time member of ITU Boston Mailers Union Local 1, which became Teamsters Local 1. He often served as shop steward. John's mother was a union member while working as as salesclerk at Filene's in Boston. With the support of their unions and with their own hard work, they were able to give to their children opportunities for better lives. How they valued unions was a value they passed to their children. John has two brothers who have served as public safety union officers, another brother who belongs to the Teamsters, and a sister who has served as an Executive Board Director for her local union.
What John knows from all of them and believes is that unions are the most effective voice for workers, fighting to ensure workers' rights, bargaining for fair wages and benefits, demanding safe working conditions, and working to promote equity and opportunity for all.
As State Senator, John has supported paid family leave, safe workplace legislation, an increased minimum wage, vocational-technical training, workforce development and training initiatives, project labor agreements, legislation to guard against wage theft, the pregnant workers fairness act, pay equity, the right of State Senate staff to organize, and a host of other legislation to protect all workers.
John has been a strong supporter of women’s reproductive rights, believing that all women should have access to birth control and other forms of preventative health care. He supported passage of Massachusetts’ Roe Act and recently supported provisions in the FY 23 state budget and An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care, that block other states’ laws from attempting to interfere with legally protected health care activity in Massachusetts, for example, the Texas and Oklahoma laws that permit residents there to bring civil suits against people in other states who provide, aid, or abet a resident of Texas or Oklahoma who receives an abortion in another state, even when that care in that other state is entirely legal.
Youth smoking rates were plummeting, so Big Tobacco started targeting our kids with e-cigarettes, filled with highly addictive nicotine. They did it with flavors like mango and mint, with innocent looking devices, and through social media. Before parents and educators knew it, a whole generation was at risk.
But students decided to fight back, and John joined them, drafting and filing legislation to ban flavored tobacco products.
The result: The Legislature passed and the Governor signed a tough new law banning flavored tobacco products. The Wall Street Journal calls it the toughest in the nation. (WSJ 11/27/19).
Massachusetts was the first state to beat Big Tobacco, and now others are following.
For his work, John was awarded the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network National Distinguished Advocacy Award.
As a State Senator, and previously while on the Quincy City Council, John has been a strong advocate for our public schools, believing every student has a right to a top-quality education. John was a strong supporter of the Student Opportunity Act, passed by the Legislature as Chapter 132 of the Acts of 2019. The law provides an unprecedented $1.5 billion new investment in Massachusetts public education, significantly helping school districts that serve high percentages of low-income students and updating the state funding formula to benefit school districts across the Commonwealth. It increases investments in school transportation, school buildings, and special education,
John has long advocated for expansion of programming and opportunities at our vocational-technical schools, with the results being increased funding and facility improvements, and recent recognition that Massachusetts is a national leader in vocational-technical education. Pioneer Institute
John has also led efforts to ensure that our students who attend Chapter 766 schools have access to the same resources as all students. Chapter 766 guarantees the rights of all young people with special needs (age 3-22) to an educational program best suited to their needs. Team evaluations and Annual Reviews are conducted to develop an ongoing individual education plan that ensures an appropriate education.
John grew up in a neighborhood where small businesses met the everyday needs of neighbors, and as a City Councilor fought for zoning changes and programs that would attract and support small businesses in Quincy. His commitment has continued in the State Senate.
Recently, John supported the ENDURE Act, an economic and recovery development bill that supports businesses, invests in critical infrastructure, and further assists the Commonwealth as it rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic. For small businesses, the bill established competitive grant programs, supports local economic development projects, and funds vocational and technical schools and community colleges to meet the worker demands of local businesses. The bill includes bonding authorizations of $35M for a Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation matching grant program to community development financial institutions for small business loans and grants, $20M for a Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation small business grant program, $50M for local economic development projects, housing, and excludes forgiven PPP loans from Massachusetts taxable income for the purposes of personal income taxes.
There's still much to be done to ensure that local businesses are given the tools and government assistance necessary to continue providing essential goods and services to our communities.
Kids and Vaping
John's family has a proud history in public safety. His great grandfather, a Boston Police Inspector, was awarded the department's Medal of Honor, as was John's grandfather, who was shot in the line of duty. Today, one of John's brothers serves as a Chief of Police, and another as a firefighter. Nephews also serve as first responders. John has brought that awareness to the State Senate, advocating for reforms and funding that will improve law enforcement and the fire services. "It is important that we recognize the ever-changing roles of our first responders and provide them with the knowledge, skills, equipment, and other supports necessary for them to effectively serve and protect the public, while also ensuring their safety on the job."
John's family bought their family home in Quincy based on the salary of a newspaper mailer. How things have changed. A family hoping to purchase that home today would need two high incomes to qualify for a mortgage to pay for the house. Housing is out of reach for so many.
As Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, John has played an instrumental role in allocating funding for housing to benefit everybody. "There is a broad spectrum of housing needs," John believes, "and we have to work together - federal, state, and local governments, as well developers, bankers, and non-profits - to meet those needs."
Recently, the state allocated nearly $600 million for housing, including $65 million for first time homebuyer assistance, $115 million for the production of below market for sale housing, $115 million for the production of affordable rental housing, $150 million for permanent supportive housing, and $150 million for the rehabilitation and modernization of public housing units across the Commonwealth. These funds are in addition to the $1.8 billion housing bond bill passed in 2018, which has created thousands of housing units across the broad spectrum of housing needs.
For more information on John's legislative work, and where he stands on the issues, visit www.SenatorJohnKeenan.com
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Libraries. Town Halls. Senior Centers. Coffee Shops. These are just some of the places John has regularly held office hours throughout the district, in Abington, Braintree, Holbrook, Quincy, and Rockland. His team has been recognized as providing outstanding constituents services, helping and treating everyone with dignity and respect. Always accessible. Always accountable. Always responsive.
. John spent 8 years as Chair of the Quincy City Council's Finance Committee, so he knows how important state funding is to local governments. As State Senator, he's worked to secure funding for new schools in each of the communities in his district, and every year is a strong advocate for local aid for our schools, veterans, seniors, police, fire, libraries, and public works.
Listening to his constituents, and working to secure local aid funding have been, are, and always will be priorities for John in the State Senate.
Copyright ©2022 Keenan for Senate. All Rights Reserved.
The Keenan Committee P.O. Box 690-168 Quincy, Massachusetts 02269