I hope you all had a happy holiday season with family and friends! I was thankful to be able spend time with my family, especially my two daughters who were home from college for a few weeks. However, after a short break between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I was back to work in the district and at the State House.
Around the District
Even with the holiday season, there was still plenty going on in the 37th Middlesex District in December. Early in the month, I attended Mount Wachusett Community College’s Annual Legislative Breakfast, where I discussed education funding with the College’s administrators. I also joined in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Lunenburg Public Library, attended a ribbon-cutting for a business in Acton, participated in a Wreaths Across America event at Fort Devens, and spoke at Acton’s Citizens Against Gun Violence Vigil.
In January, I attended the Manufacturing Roundtable at Mount Wachusett Community College, where administrators, legislators, and business owners came together to exchange ideas and discuss the challenges of the manufacturing sector in central Massachusetts.
Last month, I also went to the Acton/Boxborough Diversity Coalition’s Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, a legislative briefing by the North Central Chamber of Commerce, a forum on child hunger hosted by the Trinity Chapel in Shirley, and a ribbon-cutting for the grand opening of CrossTown Connect’s Cross-Acton Transit service in Acton.
Since being contacted by an Ayer constituent in October, I have been an active participant in the ongoing effort to solve the problem of the dangerous Route 2A/Willow Road intersection near the Ayer-Littleton town line. After a series of meetings with town officials, on January 22, the Ayer and Littleton legislative delegation met with officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, who reassured us that traffic lights would be installed at the intersection by this summer while a permanent solution is being designed. This was a great example of citizens, local government, and state government coming together to solve a problem in an efficient manner.
On January 28, I toured Boxborough’s Blanchard Memorial Elementary School for the first time since Boxborough’s regionalization with Acton’s schools. I discussed education policy with Principal Dana Labb, met with students and teachers, and learned how the towns are benefiting from region alization.
On January 30, I joined Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, former Congressman John Olver, and my colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature, Senator Eldridge and Representative Atkins, to celebrate the grand opening of the South Acton Commuter Rail Station. Rep. Atkins and I presented a joint citation from the House of Representatives to the South Acton Train Station Advisory Committee, who have done so much to advocate for Acton throughout the years.
For a few days in January, I attended the Women in Government conference, where I was sworn in as a Massachusetts State Director for the second consecutive year.
At the State House
In Boston in December, I attended the annual meeting of the Massachusetts National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, where I was recognized as their Legislator of the Year for my advocacy on behalf of seniors and those with specials needs. It was an honor to be recognized, and I’ll continue to stand up for those who are marginalized in society.
At the State House, the House of Representatives passed, and I voted in favor of, several important bills, including S.2021, An Act Relative to Motor Vehicle License Suspension. If signed into law, the bill would repeal the 1989 law that leads to the automatic suspension of the driver’s license of a drug offender whose crime is unrelated to motor vehicle operation. Furthermore, I voted for and the House passed H.3926, An Act Relative to Substance Use, Treatment, and Education. This vital legislation would create a new standard to evaluate and treat patients who present in emergency rooms with an apparent overdose, in addition to limiting first-time opiate prescriptions for adults, and all opiate prescriptions for minors, to seven days.
In January, I also spoke at the annual meeting of the Women’s Legislative Caucus on the topic of the Parental Leave Taskforce. The meeting was attended by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and many of my colleagues in the Legislature. I also attended the annual Veterans Agents Luncheon honoring the work of the hundreds of Veterans Service Officers across the Commonwealth.
One of my bills, H.540, An Act to Establish Election Day Registration, was heard before the Joint Committee on Election Laws on January 19. In order to expand access to voting and strengthen the democratic process in Massachusetts, I hope the bill is reportedly favorably by the Committee.
The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure continued to hold legislative hearings throughout December and January. I chaired a hearing on December 1 on the topic of event ticket resales, and the Committee considered bills designed to curb ticket scalping. To learn more about the issue as I consider the legislation, my staff and I met with officials at TD Garden to discuss ticketing practices. On January 26, I chaired a hearing on legislation related to the practice of buying and selling real estate.
It is hard to believe it is that time of year again. On January 27, Governor Baker released his fiscal year 2017 (FY 2017) Budget Recommendation, which is referred to as House 2. Governor Bakers’ FY 2017 Budget Recommendation can be accessed at http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy17h1. My staff and I are working hard to get in touch with school districts, town officials, and organizations to become aware of their budget priorities for the FY 2017 budget. We will discuss our proposed budget in the House in April. Please do not hesitate to contact my Budget Director, Meagan Greene (Meagan.Greene@MAHouse.gov), should you wish to bring your fiscal priorities to my attention.
On February 22, I, along with Representative Cory Atkins of Acton, will be hosting a forum on the future of solar energy in Massachusetts. The forum will be held at the Acton Public Safety Facility from 7pm to 9pm. All constituents from the 37th Middlesex and 14th Middlesex Districts are welcome to attend. We will be discussing legislation currently before the House of Representatives related to solar energy, and we will be taking questions from constituents. For more information, contact my District office at (978) 582-4146. A press release with further details will be sent out soon.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to my State House office via telephone at (617) 722-2014, or via email at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov.