Around the District
Last month, I continued my series of discussions with the Boards of Selectmen in the district, and was able to meet with the selectmen from Boxborough and Ayer. We discussed the towns’ legislative priorities and local issues, and I reiterated by commitment to fighting for more local aid and education funding in the FY19 budget. I also met with the Chiefs of Police in Lunenburg and Shirley to talk about their departments’ legislative and budget concerns.
I attended the Harvard Multicultural Council grantee reception, where grants were awarded to many of Harvard’s cultural institutions. I have always been a supporter of the arts, and I appreciate the important work local cultural councils do to make our towns more vibrant and inclusive places.
In Acton, I helped honor three new Eagle Scouts: Calvin Benelli, Eric Liu, and Luke Phillips. I presented the Scouts with official citations from the House of Representatives, and thanked them for their contributions to our community through their service projects. Later in the month, I attended a presentation at the Boxborough Historical Society about the 1938 New England hurricane that devastated Massachusetts. I also participated in the topping-off ceremony for the new Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School, which will serve students from Acton. The new building is expected to open in the fall of 2019.
On April 4, the Legislature passed a set of major criminal justice reforms. The legislation creates a process for the expungement of certain criminal records for juveniles and young adults, and for instances where an offense is no longer considered a crime. It also raises the age of criminal responsibility from seven to twelve years old, decriminalizes some first offense misdemeanors, and eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for many low-level non-violent crimes. I was proud to vote for the bill, which was signed into law by Governor Baker on April 13.
The Senate passed legislation to protect the credit data of consumers. A conference committee will reconcile the differences between the Senate bill and the legislation passed by the House in February, which was based on the bill I filed titled An Act Removing Fees For Security Freezes and Disclosures of Consumer Credit Reports.
Last month, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass our FY19 budget. The $41.1 billion balanced budget manages to increase funding for local aid and education, despite an uncertain revenue forecast.
I was able to secure funding for several district priorities, including:
- $150 thousand for advanced manufacturing and technology training programs at Mount Wachusett Community College;
- $500 thousand for Smart Growth School District Reimbursement;
- $75 thousand for the Acton-Maynard Senior Van Service and the South Acton Commuter Rail Shuttle; and
- $25 thousand for the Lunenburg Eagle House Senior Community Center.
To continue the fight against the opioid epidemic, the House budget funds the creation of five new recovery centers across the state, and provides increased funding for diversion programs and the bulk purchase of naloxone.
I received my certification from the Secretary of State’s office that I turned in enough signatures to appear on the ballot this year. Thank you to everyone who collected signatures and signed my nomination papers. I look forward to once again earning your vote in November.
In May, the House is planning to take up legislation in the areas of public health and public safety. You can always reach out to my office for help with a state government issue or to express an opinion on legislation by emailing Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov, by calling my State House office at (617) 722-2140 or my district office at (978) 582-4146 ext. 4.