Around The District
I began May as the guest speaker at Ayer Shirley Regional High School’s National Honor Society Induction ceremony. I spoke about the four pillars of the NHS: scholarship, service, leadership, and character, and how those qualities have helped me in my career as a legislator. It was wonderful to be able to address the ASRHS NHS inductees and their families, and I look forward to following their future accomplishments.
Also in Ayer, I attended the groundbreaking for the Ayer Commuter Rail parking facility. The event was 31 years in the making, and was made possible by leaders at the Congressional, state, and local levels overcoming many financial, legal, and logistical barriers. Starting in 2020, commuters and users of the Rail Trail from Ayer and surrounding towns will have access to a brand new, two-level facility and 180 parking spaces. While the facility is being built, limited parking is available at Depot Square. More information is available on the Town of Ayer’s website.
In Acton, I toured First Connections with Senator Jamie Eldridge. First Connections is a non-profit organization that supports new parents by teaching them the skills they need to care for their children. I met with staff at the organization as well as some of the parents who use their services, and we discussed challenges facing working families and the need for more state support for parenting education programs.
I was invited to attend the monthly meeting of the Acton chapter of Indivisible, where I discussed my carbon pricing bill, H.2810. It was great to connect with constituents who are passionate about combatting climate change and engaged in the conversation about the policy options available to us.
Memorial Day in Boxborough & Lunenburg
To venerate our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, I participated in ceremonies in Boxborough and Lunenburg. In Boxborough, I marched in the parade and presented Governor Baker’s Memorial Day proclamation at North Cemetery. Later in the day, I attended the Lunenburg ceremony at the town’s Veterans Memorial Park. In both towns, many people came out in the beautiful weather to honor American soldiers who died in active service.
At the State House
RJ Grey Junior High Visit
On May 16, I hosted Mrs. Karamourtopoulos’ ESL class from RJ Grey Junior High in Acton at the State House. The class went on a guided tour of the State House and watched an informal session of the House of Representatives. Afterward, I spoke with the class about my experience in government, and my colleague Rep. Antonio Cabral discussed his immigration story. I’m glad the students are interested in learning about state government.
In May, the House of Representatives passed several important bills related to transportation safety and infrastructure. On May 15, I voted with the House to pass legislation fining drivers who are pulled over for operating a cellphone with their hands while driving. The bill requires drivers to use hands-free technology such as Bluetooth, and still allows for the use of GPS apps if the phone is mounted to the dash.
The Legislature also sent a bill funding local infrastructure maintenance to the Governor’s desk. $200 million will be expended in FY20 to repair and update municipal roads and bridges, including $2.17 million for the towns of the 37th Middlesex District. Additionally, the House authorized $1.5 billion in spending for large-scale transportation projects across the state over the next few years, including:
- $18.5 million for the resurfacing of Route 2;
- $10.6 million for the next phase of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Acton;
- $3.7 million for improvements to the Piper Road and Taylor Road intersection with Route 2 in Acton;
- $1.6 million for the replacement of the Mulpus Brook Bridge in Shirley; and
- $980 thousand for stormwater improvements along Route 2A, including in Ayer.
The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held two hearings in May. We collected testimony on bills related to care management, support for special populations, and health care delivery system oversight. The Committee has collected testimony for hundreds of bills, and we still have a few more hearings scheduled.
June will be a busy month at the State House, with Health Care Financing Committee hearings, bills being taken up by the House, and a briefing I’m hosting on my carbon pricing bill.
If you’re having trouble with a state government issue or want to discuss a legislative matter, you can contact my District office at 978-582-4146 ext. 4. You can contact my State House office at 617-722-2430, or Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov.