Rep. Benson Participates in Meeting of Revitalized Regional Schools Caucus

BOSTON – State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) recently participated in the newly revitalized Regional Schools Caucus’s first meeting. The caucus will bring together legislators and regional school districts to advocate for solutions to issues specific to the challenges faces by regional school districts. The caucus will meet and address issues as they arise, and will primarily serve as a way for legislators to connect better with the needs of regional school districts throughout the Commonwealth.

The Regional Schools Caucus has met sporadically over the years to discuss obstacles facing regional school districts. At the first meeting of the caucus, the primary topic was the funding of regional school transportation, as the House and Senate budgets are currently being resolved in a conference committee. As an important source of local aid, the regional school transportation funding reimburses cities and towns for the transportation costs of students attending regional schools.

“The regional schools caucus provides an opportunity for legislators to come together to address the unique challenges faced by regional schools,” said Rep. Benson, who represents constituents of the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District and the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District. “I look forward to working with my fellow legislators to advocate for the regional districts in my district and throughout the Commonwealth.”

This year’s House budget allocated $51.5 million for Regional School Transportation. The caucus recently sent a joint letter to Committee on Ways and Means chairs Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Brian Dempsey to request regional school transportation receive more funding in the final FY16 state budget.

Rep. Benson Presents Acton Elementary School “Green Team” with Citation at State House

BOSTON – On Thursday, June 11, 2015, a group of 35 students from Luther Conant Elementary School in Acton visited the State House to meet with their State Representative, Jennifer Benson. Rep. Benson presented the group with a citation honoring them for winning the Massachusetts Elementary School of the Year award from the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project.

The elementary school’s “Green Team”, as they are called, were recognized by NEED for their project promoting energy conservation and sustainability.

“I am so proud of what you have done for your school,” said Rep. Benson, addressing the students at the State House’s Grand Staircase. “I hope you continue making a difference. Keep up the good work!”

State Senator Jamie Eldridge also attended the event, and both Rep. Benson and the Senator took a photo with the students.

Representative Benson’s Monthly Office Update: May 2015

Around the District

In May, my staff and I attended many events and meetings in and around the District, including several Memorial Day weekend events. Throughout the month, we presented 8 Eagle Scouts with congratulatory citations at 3 separate ceremonies, and attended ribbon-cuttings celebrating the expansion of 2 businesses in the District. On May 7, I celebrated the dedication of the new Antonucci Science Complex at Fitchburg State University, and on May 19, my staff observed a Lunenburg Board of Selectman meeting that was the site of a lively and democratic discussion about the plans to expand the Lunenburg Water District.

I also attended a meeting of the Fitchburg Line Working Group on May 22, where officials from surrounding towns discussed the expansion and improvements to the railway and stations along the Fitchburg MBTA line. The improvements to the Line will benefit much of the 37th Middlesex District, and include substantial construction at the South Acton station, and converting the single-track Line to double-track. I remain committed to ensuring that communication between the MBTA and my constituents remains open and productive, and I continue to follow the various projects closely as they progress.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I attended parades and ceremonies in Ayer, Boxborough, and Acton. It was a privilege to be able to participate in these events honoring the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. In each town, I presented an official Memorial Day Proclamation from Governor Charlie Baker. These somber and commemorative events provide an important opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of fallen servicemembers. It was heartening to see that communities turned out in such large numbers at each of the ceremonies I attended.

At the State House

During the month of May, I attended Multiple Sclerosis Action Day on the Hill, which was a great opportunity to meet with patients, caregivers, medical providers, and advocates, and learn more about how the Commonwealth can help by providing funds to research and treat this disease.

Rep. Benson speaking on her healthy school food legislation at Farm to School Day at the State House

Rep. Benson speaking on her healthy school food legislation at Farm to School Day at the State House

On May 6, I spoke at Mass Farm to School Day, to discuss ways in which school cafeterias can serve fresher, healthier meals. I discussed legislation I filed at the beginning of the legislative session, H. 3221 An Act Relative to Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias. On May 9, I delivered a speech at a MassCare event, where I discussed legislative options for testing the viability of a single payer system for the Commonwealth’s healthcare.

I also had the chance to speak at the Women’s Caucus 40th Anniversary Celebration on May 13. It was great to have so many current and former women state legislators in one room. We swapped stories, talked policy, and talked about the need for more women to run for office in Massachusetts. I also attended a policy meeting of the Massachusetts Water Works Association, gave members of the North Central Chamber of Commerce a tour of the House Chamber, and participated in various caucus meetings.

Legislative Update

On May 12, I chaired the first hearing of this legislative session of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. The committee heard testimony and discussion on several bills regarding liquor licenses and other topics.

Additionally, the Senate passed their $38.1 billion budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2016. Among other initiatives, the budget would create a MBTA Fiscal Control Board, which would make all major financial decisions for the MBTA. The Senate budget now goes before the Senate and House Conference Committee to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions.

Looking Ahead

In May, I opened my District Office in Lunenburg, located in the Ritter Memorial Building in the center of town. In the coming weeks, I will be posting operational hours for the office. With an office in the District, I hope to be able to foster more contact with constituents, and respond more swiftly to constituent messages and concerns.

As always, I would like to encourage you to keep in touch by contacting my office at (617) 722-2014, or by emailing me at Jennifer.Benson@mahouse.com

Sincerely,

Jennifer Benson