THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, July 1, 2022 Page 17 Upcoming programs at the Malden Public Library O n Thursday, July 7, 10:30am (at the Malden Public Library) Diane Edgecomb, Storyteller:"Trail Mix" Step off the Beaten Path and into the Big Outdoors in this fun-loving Participatory Program with award-winning storyteller Diane Edgecomb. We’ll go on a fossil dig in Montana to discover a new dinosaur and take on the world’s sassiest bugs all before we break out our lunch pails. Join in the stories, songs and FUN that have made Diane Edgecomb one of New England’s favorite storytellers. Diane has been featured on NPR and is a winner of a Parent’s Choice award for her CDs and recordings. This program is supported by a grant from the Malden Cultural Council, a local agency, supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. MASSHEALTH ESTATE RECOVERY HARDSHIP WAIVERS heir’s family group was less than or equal to 133% of the applicable federal poverty level income standard. Care provided Hardship M BHRC | FROM PAGE 16 Other provisions include reducing the registration blackout period from 20 days prior to an election to 10 days; electronic voting options for voters with disabilities and military service members; allowing a voter with disabilities to request accommodations including an accessible electronic ballot application, ballot and voter affidavit that can be submitted electronically; ensuring that non-felons who are incarcerated who are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote; and requiring the secretary of state to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign to publicize the new voting and registration options. “My office has anticipated this new law and preparations are already well underway for the September 6th state primaries,” said Secretary of State Bill Galvin. “Every voter in Massachusetts can expect to receive a pre-addressed, postage pre-paid Vote by Mail application in just a few weeks. Voters who prefer to vote in person will be able to take advantage of expanded in-person early voting or vote at their polling place on Election Day.” “This landmark election reform bill will empower voters and strengthen our democracy,” said Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), Senate Chair of the Committee on Election Laws and co-sponsor of the measure. “In 2020, mail-in and early voting options helped generate record-breaking turnout. “[The bill] builds upon this progress and will help ensure that every voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote.” “The [bill] will expand voter participation in Massachusetts at a time when other states are seeking to make it more difficult to participate in our democracy,” said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “As the lead Senate sponsor of the [bill], I am very happy that the bill has now been signed into law.” “The most secure way to vote is in person and on Election Day,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “Handing over your ballot to the United States Postal Service does not guarantee your vote will count. It’s rather disappointing the governor and Democratic lawmakers are pursuing this new law which is less secure.” In the meantime, Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons filed a lawsuit aimed at overturning the Legislature's passage of the part of the new law that codifies universal no-fault mail-in voting. He said that the Massachusetts Constitution lists only three instances whereby citizens can vote absentee during elections: If they're out-of-town, physically disabled or have a religious-based conflict with Election Day. "There's a reason why we have three branches of government, and we're confident that the Supreme Judicial Court will strike down and expose the Democrats' unconstitutional permanent expansion of mail-in voting," Lyons said. HIT AND RUN LAWS (H 4504) – The House gave initial approval to legislation that would change a current law that imposes a fine of between $500 and $1,000 on any all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or other recreational vehicle driver who leaves the scene, without giving information to the driver of the other vehicle, of a hit and run accident that does not result in death. The bill would impose the same fine but would also add the possibility of a one-year prison sentence. The bill also creates a new crime of leaving the scene of an accident that results in a death and imposes up to a $5,000 fine and/or 2.5 years in prison for that new crime. The bill, dubbed the James Ward Act, was filed in response to the tragic death of a young man in the district of sponsor Rep. Kathy LaNatra (R-Kingston). According to LaNatra’s office, James Ward was riding ATVs with his father and his brother. He collided with another driver, who told James’ father that he would go and get help buthe never returned to the scene and went back to the party which he was attending. Sadly, the young man later succumbed to his injuries. “I filed this legislation to prevent ATV riders from fleeing the scene of an accident and ensure that they are held accountable for their actions,” said sponsor Rep. Kathy LaNatra (R-Kingston). “I want to ensure that what the Ward family went through on that tragic day, doesn't happen again.” EXTEND TAX BREAKS TO MORE FARMERS (H 3059) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would expand current law and make more farmers eligible for a favorable valuation of property process that results in a tax break. Under current law, to be eligible for the favorable valuation and the resulting tax break, a farmer must own and be farming a minimum of five contiguous acres of land. The bill would reduce the required number to two and not require the acres to be contiguous. The bill also reduces the required acres to two in cities or towns with a population of more than 50,000. Supporters said that farming practices have been modernized and farmers no longer need vast contiguous acreage to grow crops and manage their livestock. They noted that in Eastern Massachusetts, contiguous land is getting harder to acquire. “Farming is changing and it is growing exceedingly difficult for new farmers to find land and for existing farmers to keep the land they have,” said the measure’s sponsor Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport). “This bill would extend the benefits of a favorable valuation to small plots effectively preserving far land in Massachusetts.” QUOTABLE QUOTES – BAY STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION EDITION Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz (D-Boston) dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Her name will still remain on the September Democratic primary ballot as June 10 was the last day a candidates can withdraw their name from the ballot. Her exit leaves Attorney General Maura Healey as the only Democrat actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination. Former Sen. Geoff Diehl and Chris Doughty are vying for the Republican nod. BHRC | SEE PAGE 19 assHealth has the right to seek recovery for MassHealth benefits paid against the estate of the MassHealth recipient. Even if someone never entered a nursing home that was paid for by MassHealth, recovery can be sought against the estate of a MassHealth recipient living in the community for benefits received after reaching the age of 55. There are three hardship waivers that can be applied for by completing the appropriate MassHealth waiver request form. The waiver form must be submitted to the Estate Recovery Unit no later than 60 days after the MassHealth Notice of Claim is filed in the Probate Court. They are as follows: 1. Residence and Financial Hardship Waiver 2. Care Provided Waiver 3. Income-based waiver Residence and Financial Hardship Waiver: 1. The heir lived in the property on a continuous basis for at least 2 years prior to the member’s admission to an institution or death and continues to live in the property when MassHealth files its notice of claim; 2. The heir inherited an interest in the property from the deceased member’s estate; 3. The heir is not being forced to sell the property by other devisees or heirs; and 4. At the time MassHealth first presented its claim, the annual gross income of the Waiver: 1. The heir resided in the home continuously for 2 years prior to the member’s admission to an institution or before the member’s death; 2. During that time, the member needed, and the heir provided, a level of care that avoided the member’s admission to a facility; 3. The heir continues to live in the home at the time the notice of claim is filed; 4. The heir inherited an interest in the property from the deceased member’s estate; 5. The sale of the property is required to satisfy the claim; 6. The heir is not being forced to sell the property by other devisees or heirs; Income-Based Hardship Waiver: 1. MassHealth will grant either a partial or full waiver of estate recovery based upon the income of the heir who inherited an interest in the member’s estate. 2. The amount of the waiver will be limited to $50,000 if the heir’s family group had a gross income below 400% of the applicable federal poverty level for 2 years prior to the date of the notice of claim being filed; 3. The amount of the waiver will be 100% if the heir’s family group had a gross income below 133% of the applicable federal poverty level for 2 years prior to the date of the notice of claim being filed. It is important to be informed of these hardship waivers. It is also imported to avoid probate if at all possible as estate recovery can only be brought against the “probate” estate and not against property held in Trust. Joseph D. Cataldo is an Estate Planning/Elder Law Attorney, Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, AICPA Personal Financial Specialist and holds a Master’s Degree in Taxation.

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