Around the District
The District was very active in May, with several Eagle Scout Courts of Honor, tours of local businesses, Memorial Day ceremonies, and other events. In Ayer, I attended the Court of Honor for Tyler Landry and Jared Russell. In Lunenburg, I attended the Court of Honor for Timothy Osgood. I presented all three Scouts with citations from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and congratulated them on their achievements.
I visited Allen Medical Systems in Acton, toured Sterilis in Boxborough, and attended a ribbon-cutting for the newly expanded Bristol-Myers Squibb campus in Devens. The company now employs more than 500 people at the Devens location, and expects to add 200 more positions in the near future. Having been there for the ribbon-cutting of the first phase of the Bristol-Myers Squibb campus, it was amazing to see how the location has grown in 8 years. It is heartening to see that the economy of the 37th Middlesex District is thriving, with more jobs being added each month.
I also went to The Discovery Museums’ “Breakfast with the CEO” series in Acton, where I spoke with the Museums’ administrators and staff about their plans for the future of the organization. I was excited to learn about the planned expansions and exhibits, and I am looking forward to visiting the Museums again soon.
Later in the month, I co-hosted a forum with the Lyme Task Force and State Senator Jamie Eldridge in Ayer. The forum was well-attended, and provided information about Lyme Disease prevention and treatment.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, I participated in parades and ceremonies in Ayer, Boxborough, and Acton. Despite the rain, I was encouraged by how many people turned out to honor those who died while serving the country.
The House of Representatives voted on several important bills last month. On May 11, the House passed H.4230, An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment (HOME Act). The HOME Act establishes the Office of State Veterans’ Homes and Housing, and enhances and expands a number of state benefit programs for veterans. It would extend eligibility for the Public Service Scholarship to the children of all POWs, extend property-tax exemption to service-connected blind veterans, and add veterans as a protected employment category. The legislation is now being considered by the Senate.
On May 18, a joint convention of the Legislature took up the issue of whether to advance the consideration of a constitutional amendment to establish a surtax on income in excess of $1,000,000 to the 2017-2018 Legislative session. The amendment would require the revenue raised by the surtax to be spent on transportation infrastructure and public education. Ultimately, the Legislature voted 135-57 to advance the bill. If the bill receives 50 or more votes in the next session, it will go before voters for a statewide vote in 2018.
On May 25, the Legislature voted on and passed H.4333, which updates the Commonwealth’s public records law, which had not been overhauled in 43 years. The bill, which will be signed into law by Governor Baker, sets standards for municipalities and state agencies to handle and comply with records requests.
On a personal note, I am happy to say that after 2 years of hard work, I graduated from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government with a Master of Public Administration last month. It was a privilege to be able to study at the University, and I hope the knowledge I gained will help me to continue to be an effective advocate for my constituents.
The Legislature will be taking up several major pieces of legislation in June. I look forward to vigorous debates and progress on key issues.
As always, you can contact my State House office at (617) 722-2014, or via email at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov. My District office can be reached at (978) 582-4146.