I hope everyone is having a pleasant fall so far and is enjoying the cooler weather and stunning foliage. Fall is a beautiful time of year in Massachusetts, and I would encourage you and your families to enjoy all that the 37th Middlesex District has to offer, with its many apple orchards, pumpkin patches, farm stands, and public parks.
With full formal legislative sessions having ended for the year on July 31, the State House has been relatively quiet. The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, on which I serve as House Chair, continues to review bills and conduct legislative research, and my staff and I are still working diligently on constituent and town matters.
In August, as I do nearly every month, I called in to Fitchburg’s WPKZ K-Zone show. I discussed the new pay equity law, S.2119, which was signed into law by the Governor recently. The new law prohibits wage discrimination, and makes Massachusetts the first state to forbid employers from asking job applicants about their salary history during the interviewing process.
In September, I went to two Women in Government (WIG) conferences, where I discussed subjects such as education and energy diversity with women legislators from across the country. It was a great opportunity to discuss public policy and consider diverse viewpoints on various issues. I also attended Montachusett Home Care’s annual breakfast meeting in Leominster, where caregivers were honored for their work, and the company provided an update on their finances and activities. While I was traveling out of state due to a death in the family, my staff attended several briefings and meetings in my place. At the request of a constituent, my staff attended a briefing by the American Heart Association on H.3988, the Healthy Vending Bill.
At the State House, I am continuing to advocate for progress on the bills I filed this session. H.4185, which would grant Acton additional alcoholic beverage licenses, has moved through the Senate, and should be before the Governor for his signature in October. H.3871, An Act Relative to Diabetes Prevention, has already been engrossed by the House of Representatives, and has been tentatively added to the Senate’s schedule for October. I’m still monitoring and advocating for H.791, An Act Relative to Patient Medication Adherence (the Step Therapy Bill), and am hopeful it will be acted on by the Legislature soon.
Late last month, the House and Senate enacted H.4664, a supplemental funding bill to close out Fiscal Year 2016. I am delighted that the supplemental budget included funding for the Commonwealth’s Home Care Program to put an end to the waitlists for home care services that went into effect on September 1. I sent a letter to Speaker DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Dempsey in July requesting that the amended language be included, after being alerted to the waiting lists issue by many constituents and advocates.
Looking ahead, I have a number of meetings and events scheduled for October that I am excited about. You can follow along at Facebook.com/RepJenBenson, or stay-tuned for next month’s update.
To contact me, you can call my State House office at (617) 722-2014, or email me at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov. The District office in Lunenburg can be reached at (978) 582-4146.