Section 69. (a) There shall be a permanent commission on the status of grandparents raising grandchildren which shall consist of 15 persons as follows: 3 persons appointed by the secretary of elder affairs, 1 of whom shall be from the secretary’s office; 1 person appointed by the commissioner of children and families, who shall be from the department; 2 persons appointed by the governor; 2 persons appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be a member of the house; 1 person appointed by the house minority leader; 2 persons appointed by the president of the senate, 1 of whom shall be a member of the senate; 1 person appointed by the senate minority leader; 1 person appointed by the attorney general; 1 person appointed by the chief justice of the probate and family court who shall have a demonstrated commitment to the rearing of grandchildren by grandparents; and 1 person to be appointed by the chief justice of the juvenile court who shall have a demonstrated commitment to the rearing of grandchildren by grandparents. Members of the commission shall be citizens of the commonwealth who have demonstrated a commitment to the rearing of grandchildren by grandparents.
(b) Members shall serve terms of 2 years. Vacancies in the membership of the commission shall be filled by the original appointing authority for the balance of the unexpired term.
(c) The commission shall elect from among its members a chair, a vice chair, a treasurer and any other officers it deems necessary.
(d) The members of the commission shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be reimbursed for any usual and customary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
(e) The commission shall be a resource to the commonwealth on issues affecting grandparents raising grandchildren in the commonwealth. In furtherance of that responsibility, the commission shall: (1) foster unity among grandparents raising grandchildren communities and organizations in the commonwealth by promoting cooperation and sharing of information and encouraging collaboration and joint activities; (2) serve as a liaison between government and private interest groups with regard to matters of unique interest and concern to grandparents raising grandchildren in the commonwealth; (3) assess programs and practices in all state agencies as they affect grandparents raising grandchildren, as the commission deems necessary and appropriate; (4) advise executive and legislative bodies of the potential effect of proposed legislation on grandparents raising grandchildren, as the commission deems necessary and appropriate; (5) investigate the merits of the establishment of a state agency dedicated to grandparents issues and determine how such agency would be set up; and (6) identify issues that are faced by relatives, other than parents, who are raising children.
(f) The powers of the commission shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) to use such voluntary and uncompensated services of private individuals, agencies and organizations as may from time to time be offered and required, including provision of meeting places and refreshments; (2) to hold regular, public meetings and to hold fact-finding hearings and other public events as the commission deems necessary; (3) to direct a staff, in this section to be called commission staff, to perform its duties; (4) to establish and maintain such offices as the commission deems necessary, subject to appropriation; (5) to enact by-laws for its own governance but not inconsistent with any general or special law; and (6) to recommend policies and make recommendations to agencies and officers of the commonwealth and local subdivisions of government to effectuate the purposes of this commission.
(g) The commission may accept and solicit funds, including any gifts, donations, grants or bequests, or any federal funds for any of the purposes of this section. Such funds shall be deposited into a separate account with the state treasurer, received by said treasurer on behalf of the commonwealth, and expended by the commission in accordance with law.
(h) Not later than December 31 of each year, the commission shall report its findings and activities of the preceding year, as well as any policy recommendations, to the governor, the clerks of the senate and the house and the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities.