Around The District
In the beginning of April I joined Governor Patrick at the “Read, Explore, Learn More” Reading Series Kickoff at The Discovery Museums in Acton. It was great to have Governor Patrick in the District. Also in Acton, I had the opportunity to present a citation, in honor of receiving Eagle Scout rank, to Mr. Zachary Zambarano.
Throughout the month I met with constituents, in the district, to discuss criminal justice legislation, and An Act relative to the practice of athletic training (S1832). I also took a tour of the Community Health Connections New Regional Health Care Center, and attended legislative events hosted by the Worcester County Sheriff, and Indian Hill Music.
At the State House
There was a lot going on at the State House this month. As co-chair of the After School and Out-of-School Coordinating Council, I hosted the After School Out-of-School (ASOST) issue briefing to discuss the importance of after school and summer programs throughout the Commonwealth, and attended an ASOST celebration. My staff attended the 495/MetroWest Partnership Annual State House Day, and I was able to stop by the Minuteman Regional Vocational and Technical School briefing.
Aside from budget week, the House met for three full formal sessions, during the month of April, and engrossed bills concerning workforce reform, domestic violence, and a bill to increase aid for families of public safety employees killed in the line of duty, among others.
I also had the chance to meet with a variety of groups to discuss various bills, on the Hill. I met with the Mass Dental Society for their annual lobby day, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) to discuss An Act relative to continuing education of insurance provides (H870), and the Consumer SpecialtyProducts Association (CSPA).
Health Care Financing
This is a busy time of the year for the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, as our reporting date for bills in the committee is the last Wednesday in April.
Many advocacy groups and lobbyist requested meetings, in April, to express support of specific bills. I met with representatives from Harrington Hospital to discuss the importance of access to hospitals,the Society of Mass Optometry to discuss An Act relative to the modernization of optometric patient care (H1981), the Health Policy Commission, the Mass Academy of Family Physicians, and the Mass Midwives Alliance to discuss An Act relative to certified professional midwives (H3971).
The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing did not hold a hearing in April to discuss legislation. However, the Committee did hold a public hearing mid-April to request an update on the status of the Health Connector website and applications. The Committee invited Secretary Polanowicz from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Secretary Shor from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the MA Health Connector, and the Office of Medicaid. We received a great update and I am pleased at the progress the Health Connector has made since our hearing in February.
Other Committee Updates
The Joint Committee on Telecommunications Utilities and Energy held one hearing in April to discuss An Act relative to clean energy resources (H3968).
Last month, Chairman Keenan appointed me to the bottle law deposit subcommittee tasked with the objected of working out a compromise on the bottle deposit law expansion. I will be working with my colleagues, Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), and Senator Donoghue (D-Lowell), to produce an updated bottle deposit law.
I dedicated a significant amount of time the last few months to meet with local town officials, advocates, and lobbyists to discuss FY15 budget priorities. In April alone, I met with Board of Selectmen in Boxborough, Ayer and Harvard to go over the state budget, and their town fiscal priorities. Additionally, I met with the House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dempsey to discuss my top three budget priorities: Chapter 70 funding, local aid and prison mitigation funding.
A few weeks before the House discussed the budget; I filed twelve amendments, and signed on to over one hundred of my colleagues’ amendments.
In the last week of April, the House spent three days debating the FY15 state budget. On Wednesday, April 30th, the House passed its version of the annual budget with an almost unanimous 148-2 vote. The budget will now go to the Senate for debates the second week of May.
In May, I will be hosting office hours in the 37th Middlesex District. Please feel free to stop by to say hello, share ideas, or request assistance with an individual issue. All constituents are welcome at all three locations.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014: 5:30-6:30 PM Harvard Town Hall Town Hall Meeting Room 13 Ayer Road Harvard, MA 01451 Tuesday, May 13, 2014: 5:30-6:30 PM Lunenburg Town Hall Room Joseph F. Bilotta Meeting Room 17 Main St Lunenburg, MA 01462 Tuesday, May 27, 2014: 6:00-7:00 PM Boxborough Town Hall Morse-Hilberg Meeting Room 29 Middle Road Boxborough, MA 01719
Thank you all very much for the well wishes last week. The outpouring of love and support is greatly appreciated.
As always, I encourage each of you to keep in touch by contacting my office at 617.722.2430 or sending me an email at Jennifer.Benson@mahouse.gov.