Acton’s Margaret Miley and Shirley’s Melissa Fetterhoff Honored as ‘Unsung Heroines’

BOSTON – On Wednesday, Margaret Miley of Acton and Melissa Fetterhoff of Shirley were honored as members of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2017 class of Unsung Heroines. Ms. Miley and Ms. Fetterhoff were nominated by State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), respectively, for their dedication to improving our communities.

“I am extremely proud that Margaret Miley is a recipient of the 2017 Unsung Heroine award,” said Senator Eldridge. “Margaret has been a champion for low-income families for her entire career, most recently as the Executive Director of the MIDAS Collaborative. Her passion and her work over the past few years has influenced the Massachusetts Legislature to expand the EITC, create pilot financial literacy programs, establish higher education tax credits, and reduce asset limits for poor residents. At a time when inequality in Massachusetts continues to be a glaring reality, Margaret has been a powerful advocate for working families to have a seat at the table of state economic and fiscal policy.”

“I’ve been working with Melissa Fetterhoff since I came into the Legislature in 2009, and I’ve seen what an effective advocate she’s been for the small businesses of my district as the President and CEO of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce,” said Representative Benson. “Her positive impact on the region through her advocacy and service can be seen in the small businesses she’s aided, the people she has helped find jobs, and the many community events she has planned. She’s professional, generous, and one of the hardest working people I know, and that’s why she deserves to be recognized as an Unsung Heroine.”

Margaret Miley has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MS in business. In 1991, while running a small business by day and training Central American refugees at night, she decided to deploy her combined skills in the community development field. Since then, she has developed and managed many types of non-profit economic development programs, community leadership, business training & lending, a business incubator, and worker-owned companies. In 1999, she saw the promise of asset development when she joined Acre Family Daycare in Lowell, which started the first Individual Development Account Program in Massachusetts. She was the founding executive director of the Midas Collaborative.

Margaret was Commissioner on the Massachusetts Asset Development Commission, has spoken nationally on the topics of community-based economic development and asset-building, and is the author of a number of publications on financial education and asset-building. She serves on the Steering Committee of the Massachusetts Financial Education Collaborative, the Advisory Council for Private Occupational Schools for Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation, and represents Massachusetts in the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard partnership of the Corporation for Enterprise Development in Washington, DC. She hopes to find the time to keep bees in the future.

After joining the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2002, Melissa has served as its President and CEO since 2007. Over the past decade, she has helped the organization grow to represent more than 600 local businesses in the region. Under Melissa’s leadership, the Chamber has developed into an effective voice for its membership, both in the region and on Beacon Hill.

Melissa plans several regular events that benefit the Nashoba Valley community, including a biannual job fair, the Taste of Nashoba event showcasing the culinary offerings of the region, and countless ribbon-cuttings highlighting new businesses. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, as well as the Ayer Rotary Club and the North Central Workforce Investment Board. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Devens Enterprise Commission, Melissa has been instrumental in helping Devens to become a manufacturing and economic powerhouse in central Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is an independent state agency that was legislatively created in 1998 to advance women of the Commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities. The MCSW provides a permanent, effective voice for the women of Massachusetts.

Rep. Benson’s Carbon Pricing Bill Receives Substantial Support at Hearing

BOSTON – Legislators, activists, academics, clergy members, and others crowded into the Gardner Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon to offer support for Representative Benson’s carbon pricing legislation. H.1726, An Act to promote green infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs, would put a price on carbon emissions to incentive a move toward renewable energy sources.

Representative Benson provided testimony in support of carbon pricing along with a panel of House Members including Representatives Cory Atkins, Michael Connolly, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Stephen Kulik, and Denise Provost.

“In 2007, Massachusetts became a leader in cap-and-trade by establishing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” said Representative Benson. “Carbon pricing is the next logical step in reducing carbon emissions, and without it, we will not meet our 2050 emissions requirements under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.”

Representative Benson’s bill differs from other carbon pricing proposals in that it is revenue positive, rather than revenue neutral. In H.1726, 80% of the revenue from carbon fees is rebated to households and employers, while 20% of the revenue is placed in a Green Infrastructure Fund.

“Many of the green energy incentives we have in the Commonwealth have left out a portion of our citizenry,” said Representative Benson in her testimony. “With 20% of the revenue going toward a Green Infrastructure Fund, we will be able to use those resources to fund regional transportation projects in rural and suburban areas, or low-interest loans for small businesses to implement energy efficiency upgrades. Offering these opportunities is a powerful way to multiply the effects of a carbon pricing regime.”

Representative Benson’s bill has gathered 59 cosponsors from both the House and Senate.

Representative Benson’s Office Update: May 2017

Around the District

On May 4, I attended the signing of a Community Compact between the Town of Lunenburg and the Baker-Polito Administration. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and the Lunenburg Selectmen were on hand at the Public Library to sign the compact, which will provide state assistance for the Town to complete a cyber security assessment, implement a citizen engagement plan, and put into practice stormwater management measures.

Later that day, I spoke at a forum with Senator Jamie Eldridge organized by the Harvard League of Women Voters on the topic of health care policy. I spoke about my single-payer health care legislation, An Act to Ensure Effective Health Care Cost Control. The bill directs the state to compare total health care spending to a hypothetical single-payer model. If after three years, the single-payer model outperforms actual spending, the state would be required to draft and submit a single-payer plan to the Legislature.

Sen. Flanagan, Rep. Hay, and Rep. Benson with former Lunenburg Selectman, Tom Alonzo.

I also met with the boards of selectmen of Acton and Lunenburg, where I discussed the latest developments in the FY2018 state budget process, and legislation I have filed this session. In Lunenburg, Senator Jen Flanagan, Representative Stephan Hay, and I commemorated Tom Alonzo’s last selectmen meeting by presenting him with a citation honoring him for his years of service to the Town.

Speaking at a forum in Acton on environmental policy and activism.

On May 24, I participated in a forum in Acton on environmental and energy policy, where I spoke about my carbon-pricing legislation. In light of the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the EPA and their decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, it was encouraging that about 100 people turned out to discuss policy and activism.

At the State House

At the State House in May, I hosted the School Nutrition Association Luncheon to highlight the work our public schools are doing to provide fresh, nutritious meals to students. I talked about my bill, An Act Relative to Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias, which would create a pilot program to help schools update their kitchens to make it easier for them to serve fresh, locally-grown food.

At the 2017 Lobby Day for Animals, I spoke about legislation I filed, An Act to Protect Puppies and Kittens. The bill would put further protections in place for dogs and cats sold by breeders and pet stores to ensure more humane treatment for pets. I also hosted another meeting of the After-School and Out-of-School Time (ASOST) Coordinating Council. The Council discussed ASOST funding in the FY2018 state budget, as well as recent successes in the latest cycle of the ASOST-Q Grant, which provided funding to enhance existing extracurricular programs.

My staff attended the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition Policy Summit, where they heard presentations about justice reinvestment and new insights from opinion polling about criminal justice issues. I am proud to be a member of the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus, and a cosponsor of several criminal justice reform bills.

Legislative & Committee Update

Listening to testimony at a CPPL hearing.

In May, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, on which I serve as House Chair, began holding legislative hearings. The Committee has already heard and collected testimony on over 50 bills, including legislation regarding alcoholic beverage sales, consumer protection, and the state lottery.

The House passed several pieces of important legislation last month, and among them was the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The Act would protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace, and require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who experience limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. Also passed was An Act Limiting the Use of Prison Labor, which would require that any labor performed by Commonwealth inmates is performed within Massachusetts. I was proud to vote in favor of both bills.

Looking Ahead

In May, our office recruited a new District Director, Josh Bedarian. Josh is from Shirley, and grew up in the District. Please feel free to reach out to him about District matters at Joshua.Bedarian@MAHouse.gov. Our former District Director, Sean Rourke, is transitioning into the role of Communications Director, and my Chief of Staff, Cat Bunker, has taken on the management of my legislative portfolio and budget priorities.

In June, I will continue to oversee hearings of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure. I will also be attending the National Women in Government Legislative Summit.

As always, you can reach me at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov, or (617) 722-2014.

Sincerely,