Around The District
November was a busy month in the 37th Middlesex District. In the beginning of the month, I was delighted to attend Minuteman Senior Services’ 40th Annual Meeting. At the meeting, two constituents from my district received awards for their years of dedicated service to the Board of Directors, and healthy eating for seniors.
Over the past year, Senator Eldridge and I worked with residents at Wayside Estates in Shirley to fix low-hanging and dangerous electrical wires in the park. This month, we gladly took a walking tour of the park to see the completed project. While we were taking the tour, I was able to talk to several residents and members of the new Board of Directors, who told me they were pleased with the result. I look forward to working with the Wayside Community Association Inc. in the future.
Throughout the month I attended a moving Veteran’s Day ceremony, in Ayer, at the Page-Hilltop school, stopped by the Ayer Shirley Regional High school to see the new renovations, and met with both Harvard and Acton constituents to discuss DDS policies, and a Move to Amend legislative request. I also attended the North Central MA Development Corporation Legislative Delegation meeting.
On November 15, I stopped by Stop the Pipeline’s Statewide Summit at Montachusett Regional Vocation Technical School with many colleagues. As many of you already know, we recently received information that Kinder Morgan is highly considering an alternative route for the natural gas pipeline that will have less of an impact on Massachusetts. My colleagues and I are continuing to be in touch with the Congressional Delegation, Kinder Morgan, local officials, residents, and business owners.
On a positive note, congratulations to David McKeehan on his retirement after thirty years with the North Central MA Chamber of Commerce.
In October and November, I completed my last round of 2014 office hours in the 37th Middlesex District. This year, my staff and I were able to host office hours in all six communities in the district. Many constituents and local officials stopped by to say hello and discuss local issues. Office hours are always a great opportunity to see familiar and new faces. I will be hosting office hours again in the winter. If you wish to schedule a meeting in the meantime, my staff and I are always available to meet with constituents at the State House, or in the district. You can schedule a meeting by calling by Boston office 617-722-2430.
On Beacon Hill
Last month I was delighted to host thirty eighth grade girls from the Nashoba Brooks School at the State House. We met to discuss the importance of women in office, my journey to running for State Representative, and how state and federal policies impact our everyday lives.
During November, my staff attended a few events at the State House, including the MACOA’s & Elder Affairs Committee’s briefing on a Benefits Checkup tool (www.BenefitsCheckUp.org/MCOA), and another briefing on a benefits tool called Care Giving MetroWest (http://www.caregivingmetrowest.org/). Both websites help seniors and others to find state and federal resources available to them.
At the end of the month, I stopped by the Massachusetts Immigration & Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s (MIRA) 11th Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon. This year MIRA focused the lunch discussion on the well-being of children in the Commonwealth. I also met with AARP Massachusetts to discuss their legislative agenda for the New Year.
Although the last two months of the legislative session are pretty quiet, we did have some success with home rule petitions. On November 14, 2014, the Governor signed two home rule petitions into law that Senator Eldridge and I filed, An Act relative to community shared solar energy systems in the Town of Harvard (S2138) and An Act providing for appointment of the town collector in the Town of Shirley (H4433).
Health Care Financing
In my capacity as Acting-Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, I spoke at the World COPD Awareness Day, at the State House, on November 19. I was honored to join the Lung Association and others to participate in bringing awareness to such a devastating disease.
The Open Enrollment period to purchase health insurance through the Health Connector is November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. Representative Hogan (D-Stow), the Nashoba Valley Rotary Club, the MA Health Connector and I hosted an informational Open Enrollment Briefing at the Bolton Public Library, on November 18, to provide details on Open Enrollment and allow constituents to start their applications with Health Connector staff.
You should take note of open enrollment if you have a plan through the Health Connector or MassHealth that ends on December 31, 2014, you are currently uninsured, your current healthcare premiums are costly and you would like to explore other options, or you are unsure if you are eligible for tax credits or assistance paying for insurance.
If you believe you are impacted by open enrollment and need to apply or re-apply, you can start your application by accessing https://www.mahealthconnector.org/.
If you are unsure if the open enrollment period applies to you, please contact my State House office at 617-722-2430 and my staffers will be happy to assist you.
After School and Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council (ASOST)
As a co-chair of the After School and Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council (ASOST), Senator Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) and I hosted the council for a meeting at the State House on November 18. We listened to presentation from The National Institute on Out-of-School Time, at the Wellesley Centers for Women, and had an open discussion afterwards to talk about expanding access to after school and out-of-school programs for all students and children in the Commonwealth.
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