Around the District
In January, I met with the leadership team at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, where I provided a legislative update and heard from the Chamber about their 2019 budget priorities.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I attended the annual MLK Day Breakfast at Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton. The speaker, Boston Globe Associate Editor and columnist Renée Graham, spoke about Dr. King’s legacy, emphasizing his role as a revolutionary figure. I also participated in Career Day at Lunenburg Middle and High School, where I met with students and talked about my career in public service as an elected official.
On January 20, I attended and spoke at Ayer’s 2018 Women’s March with my daughter, Maya. It was inspiring to see hundreds of people from in and around the 37th Middlesex District come together to support equality and protest the current presidential administration’s policies.
In Shirley, at The Bull Run, I organized an Economic Development Day. I brought together House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, and Cannabis Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan to talk about economic development and the economic outlook for the Commonwealth. Nearly 100 business and community leaders came to learn about development opportunities for the north central Massachusetts region, and ask questions about state resources and best practices.
In Acton, I stopped by the Acton Chinese Language School to celebrate the Chinese New Year. In Harvard, I was at a League of Women Voters panel discussion on women running for public office. I also visited the Dr. Franklin Perkins School in Lancaster, where I attended their legislative open house and met with constituents and their children enrolled at the School. The Perkins School serves children and adolescents with special psychiatric, social, and emotional needs.
January was an important month for my carbon pricing legislation. I was interviewed by Haverhill Community Television’s Richard Smyth, and I talked about carbon pricing and my role as an official observer at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last November. On January 23, the organization Our Climate held a Youth Lobby Day for Carbon Pricing, where dozens of young activists met with their Representatives and Senators to ask them to support carbon pricing. Seeing the grassroots activism among young people around my carbon pricing bill has been so exciting and encouraging.
At an MIT Forum, I spoke on a panel about carbon pricing, and my preference for a revenue-positive policy that would generate resources to fund renewable energy initiatives. On January 31, I announced the formation of a multi-state coalition for carbon pricing in association with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. There is a lot of momentum in Massachusetts behind the policy, and I’m hopeful that the Legislature will act on carbon pricing soon.
I hosted the annual legislative briefing on Special Education Circuit Breaker funding at the State House, where I discussed the important of this funding with my colleagues in the House and Senate. Circuit Breaker funding allows school districts to meet the needs of children with severe disabilities, including autism and other neurological conditions.
In February, the House of Representatives passed legislation providing further protections and resources for consumers in the event of a data security breach. In this legislation, credit freezes, lifts, and removals must be provided to consumers free of charge, and credit agencies must provide one year of free credit monitoring after a breach. I filed the original bill this legislation was based on back in 2016, and worked with the Attorney General and advocates to strengthen the bill after the Equifax breach.
The House also passed the PATCH Act, which would close a loophole that previously allowed for the private health care information of an individual to be shared with the primary health plan subscriber without that individual’s permission. The Senate has passed a similar bill, and the two bills are now being reconciled in a conference committee.
February was the Joint Rule 10 deadline, when the status of bills in most of the joint legislative committees must be decided, including the one I Chair, the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. I worked with other Committee members in the best interest of the Commonwealth to make thoughtful, well-researched decisions on the hundreds of bills that came before the Committee. There are still several late-file bills in Committee, which will receive a hearing soon.
I picked up my nomination papers at the State House in January to run for another term as your State Representative. Each time I’ve taken that yellow envelope, I think about the 37th Middlesex District – the friends I’ve made, the families I’ve helped, and the great honor it is to serve. I humbly ask for your support to continue this work. I attended several Democratic caucuses to collect signatures to get on the ballot in November, and will continue engaging with voters in the district throughout the campaign.
To reach out to my office for assistance with a constituent matter, or to express your opinion on legislation or budget items, please email Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov or call (617) 722-2140. My district office can be reached at (978) 582-4146 ext. 4.