Around the District
It has been an eventful fall in the 37th Middlesex District for my staff and I, with an Eagle Scout ceremony, two ribbon-cuttings, municipal meetings, and events.
In September, I provided the Ayer Board of Selectmen with a legislative update, where I discussed several bills before the legislature related to municipal matters. Also in Ayer, there was a celebration of New England Apple Day at JP Sullivan & Company, where my staff was treated to a tour of the apple processing facility.
I attended a signing of a Community Compact between Acton, Boxborough, and the Commonwealth with Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Representative Jim Arciero.
On September 20, I stopped by the 28th annual Acton-Boxborough Democratic Picnic, where I met with constituents and spoke about the importance of inclusive, respectful politics.
In October, I participated in two ribbon-cuttings. The long-awaited ribbon cutting for the new Ayer-Shirley Regional High School (ASRHS) was held on October 9. I had gotten a sneak peek at the school the week before, when I met with the ASRHS FIRST Robotics team. Having toured the building several times during construction, it was satisfying to see the completed project. The state-of-the-art high school will serve students in the towns for years to come. I also attended the grand opening of the new Dragonfly Wellness Center in Devens, and presented the business owner with a citation from the House of Representatives honoring her achievement.
On October 23, I co-hosted an event with Representative Sheila Harrington to honor World War II veterans. The event, called Heroes Remembered, drew 100 World War II veterans and 400 attendees from all over the state, with some veterans traveling from as far as Martha’s Vineyard and Pittsfield. Governor Charlie Baker attended and spoke, and we presented veterans with commemorative pins to thank them for their service. It was a touching event, and it was a privilege to be able to honor the Commonwealth’s World War II veterans.
Beacon Hill has been very active lately. In October and November, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure (CPPL), on which I serve as House Chairman, held six legislative hearings. The Committee heard and reviewed testimony on over 100 bills, on topics including liquor licenses, electronics repair, and robo-calls.
As part of my duties as House Chair of CPPL, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives about H.3806, An Act Regulating Secondary Metals Dealings. The bill, which will protect private property and reduce scrap metal theft, was passed by the House unanimously.
In the past two months, a number of bills that I sponsored were heard in their respective committees. H.624, An Act Relative to the Prevention of Hazardous Materials Release, was heard by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The bill would allow the Department of Environmental Protection to act to contain dangerous materials with the permission of a property owner or municipality. H.515, An act to increase the personal needs allowance for residents of long term care facilities, was heard by the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. H.515 would raise the monthly personal needs allowance for nursing and rest home residents for items not covered by MassHealth.
House Session Update
The House passed several pieces of important legislation in September and October, including a bill criminalizing the trafficking of fentanyl, an opioid designated only for medical use. Under existing law, drug traffickers can only be charged with manufacturing, dispensing, and possessing fentanyl. If it were to become law, this bill would add trafficking to the list of crimes. Attorney General Maura Healey praised the House of Representatives for their passage of the bill, and urged the Senate to pass the legislation as well.
I would like to remind you that the Massachusetts Health Connector Open Enrollment period began on November 1, and runs until January 31, 2016. If you have already signed up for a Health Connector health insurance plan, and you are satisfied with that plan, you do not need to do anything. Your coverage will be renewed, although your premiums may change. If you are not satisfied with your plan, or if you do not have health insurance, you can explore your options at MAHealthConnector.org. My office is available to direct constituents to helpful resources, should you require assistant with using the Health Connector
You can reach my State House office by calling (617) 722-2014, or by emailing me at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov. My District office can be reached by calling (978) 582-4146.