Around The District
This year, to honor the men and women of the armed forces, I participated in Veterans Day events in Boxborough and Harvard. In Boxborough, I spoke at the dedication of Carl S. Swanson Square, named for a World War I veteran from the town. At the Harvard Veterans Day ceremony, Senator Jamie Eldridge and I read the names of the 64 World War I veterans from Harvard. This Veterans Day was the centennial anniversary of Armistice Day, which ended World War I, so it was especially meaningful to be invited to participate in these event honoring veterans from the War.
Nashoba Valley Job Fair
The annual Nashoba Valley Job Fair was held on November 13, and I stopped by to speak with attendees. My office has helped organize the event since 2012. Although the unemployment rate has been cut in half since then, the event is still well-attended every year, and helps connect job seekers to employers across a variety of industries in the private and public sectors.
Change Comes to Boy Scouts of America (BSA)
As was widely reported in 2017, girls are now allowed to join the upper ranks of Scouting and become Eagle Scouts for the first time in the more than 100-year history of BSA. In November, I met with a group of Webelos from Fitchburg’s Pack 41. It was great to help them complete their “Building a Better World” adventure by talking with them about leadership and being a woman in government. These girls will be among the first female Scouts in the country when they earn their Arrow of Light awards this year.
I also attended two Eagle Scout Courts of Honor. In Boxborough, after 12 years in Scouting, Christopher Dove became an Eagle Scout. In Harvard, Ethan Shipman, Ethan Graham, and Dylan Molnar, and Yohhan Kumarasinghe earned their Eagle Scouts ranks.
Community Conversation in Acton
In Acton, I attended a discussion hosted by Acton-Boxborough United Way and AB Cares on mental health and suicide prevention. We heard from experts on mental health and social work, including the Chair of Counseling and Psychological Services for Acton-Boxborough Regional High School. A few weeks later, an article in the Boston Globe profiled the community through the lens of the recent suicides by young people in the two towns. This is a difficult issue to address and discuss, and I support the school district’s and the community’s collaborative efforts to expand and improve mental health and counseling services for young people in the towns.
I had a productive meeting with leaders from the Lunenburg-based organization Resources for Opioid Awareness and Recovery (ROAR). We discussed state funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment, and how ROAR could grow to achieve their goals of raising awareness and providing support and resources to addicts and their families.
In December, I attended the tree lighting and holiday stroll in downtown Ayer. The downtown area is undergoing an exciting revitalization, and it was great to celebrate the holidays with constituents and town officials, surrounded by the festive decorations. I also attended the Acton Area League of Women Voters’ annual Chat and Cheer. I enjoyed talking to new and longtime members, and discussing the accomplishments of the 190th Legislative Session.
Barbara Wheeler of Boxborough has been a poll volunteer since the 1980s, having moved to the town in 1978. Barbara’s four children grew up in town, and she says it was a joy for her to see them grow up and vote. The Acton-Boxborough Beacon profiled Barbara in November to spotlight her more than 30 years of service as a volunteer.
At the State House
I was invited to speak on a panel at Tufts University in December, hosted by the youth group Our Climate, about my carbon pricing legislation. I was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, but I recorded an interview with Tufts student Patrick Yuzheng that was shown at the event. I’m so glad that young people are interested in carbon pricing, as their generation will be most affected by climate change.
Bills passed by the Legislature in November and December 2018 and signed into law:
- H.4051: An Act Relative to Counterfeit Airbag Prohibition – Sponsored by Rep. Benson – This bill increases the penalties for selling counterfeit airbags, which can fail to deploy correctly, injuring or killing drivers.
- H.4086: An Act Relative to Consumer Protection from Security Breaches– Sponsored by Rep. Benson – This bill gives consumers more control over their credit data and provides free credit monitoring services after a data breach.
- H.4947: An Act Relative to the Board of Assessors in the Town of Harvard – Sponsored by Rep. Benson and Sen. Eldridge – This home rule petition will allow Harvard to restructure their Board of Assessors.
- H.4888: An Act Protecting Locked Out Employees – This bill extends unemployment benefits for locked out has workers workers, currently in a months-long labor dispute with National Grid.
- H.5005: An Act Further Providing for the Safety of the Commonwealth’s Natural Gas Infrastructure – This bill establishes new oversight and regulations on natural gas work in Massachusetts recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, in reaction to the gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley in 2018.
The 191st Legislative Session began on January 2, and I was sworn in to a sixth term as the State Representative for the 37th Middlesex District. I am grateful to continue to be able to serve the District, and I will continue to do my best as your legislator.
Throughout January, I will continue drafting and editing the legislation I plan to file this session. I will once again be filing a carbon pricing bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and my step therapy bill to allow patients and their doctors to overrule insurance companies when they mandate trying cheaper medications before the prescribed treatments.
As bills are filed throughout the next few weeks, please contact my office at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov or 617-722-2140 to let me know which legislation you support and would like me to cosponsor. You can visit MALegislature.gov to search by keyword or sponsor, and to follow the legislation being filed.