I hope everyone had a wonderful, restorative Thanksgiving with family and friends!
Around the District
With the Thanksgiving holiday, the 37th Middlesex District was less active than usual last month. However, my staff and I were still able to attend a few community events. On November 4, I volunteered at the weekly Community Supper hosted by Acton’s Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. Along with Senator Jamie Eldridge, I helped prepare food for the patrons, and spoke with some of them about issues such as healthcare and senior housing.
Later in the month, I met with the Acton Housing Authority to discuss their efforts to create more affordable housing in town. We talked about opportunities for development in Acton, including on several state-owned parcels of land. It was a productive discussion, and I look forward to working with the Housing Authority and helping them in any way I can.
At the State House
Before the Legislature adjourned for the year on November 18, the House of Representatives took action on several important items.
I joined my colleagues in the House to pass legislation to update the state’s public records laws. The legislation establishes a timeframe and process in which requested documents must be produced, and ensures that judicial remedies can be sought to challenge noncompliant municipalities. The comprehensive and long overdue legislation will provide a standardized process for the public to attain access to records. I gladly co-sponsored this bill at the beginning of the legislative session, and was proud to vote for it.
The House also took up the issue of the solar power net metering cap, and voted to raise the cap by 2%, which will allow the state to meet its goal of generating 1600 megawatts of electricity from solar by 2020. I voted with the majority to engross the legislation. The bill was sent to a conference committee, where members of the House and Senate will work through their differences on the bill to reach a compromise.
I also met with representatives from the MBTA to discuss their proposed new schedule for the Fitchburg Line Commuter Rail. While I am thrilled that Acton will be getting the reverse-commute schedule they have been advocating for for years, I am cognizant of the concerns I’ve heard from some constituents about the reduction in the number of rush hour stops at the West Concord station, which many Acton residents use to travel into Boston every day. After a productive discussion with myself and other legislators, the MBTA agreed to delay the implementation of the new schedule until the Spring of 2016. They also promised to solicit comments from the public before finalizing the schedule.
The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure held 2 hearings in November, one on the 10th on the topic of professional licensing, and one on the 17th on bills related to alcohol licensing.
The Legislature is recessed until January, and I look forward to being able to spend more time in the District in December.
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.