Release of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Toolkit

BOSTON – On Tuesday, State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), along with State Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), and State Representatives Claire Cronin (D-Easton), Carole Fiola (D-Fall River), and Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), announced the release of a policy toolkit to help state governments across the country craft mental health and substance abuse legislation and policy.

The Women in Government’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Policy Toolkit is the result of a year of work by the organization’s National Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders. A collaboration of state legislators, mental health professionals, and advocates, the toolkit targets issues such as access to care, housing instability, and recovery resources.

“I am incredibly proud of the work of the task force,” said Representative Benson. “I hope the toolkit will be a valuable resource for legislators across the country who are seeking to improve public policy around mental health and substance abuse in their states.”

Representative Benson serves as one of four Massachusetts State Directors for Women in Government, a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of women state legislators.  Women in Government serves as a member-informed, policy-driven organization leading the nation with a bold, courageous, and passionate vision to empower and mobilize all women state legislators to drive sound policy.

Read the full document here: Women in Government Mental Health and Substance Abuse Toolkit.

Small business health insurance enrollment forum on February 12

Representatives Hogan and Benson

Presented by State Reps. Kate Hogan & Jennifer Smith Benson, State Senator Jamie Eldridge. The Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Nashoba Valley

Thursday, February 12, 2015, 5-7pm
Maynard Town Hall (Gianotis Room)
195 Main Street, Maynard

Want to check out whether or not the Health Connector is the right tool for your business? Join us to learn more about the Affordable Care Act. Obtain information and materials to enhance your decision-making on whether or not a Health Care Connector Program is the best option for you, your employees, and your business! The program is currently open to businesses with less than 50 employees, and open enrollment is available on year-round basis.

Assistance will be available at the event to provide in-person guidance, and education about resources available through the Small Business Health Options Program at the Massachusetts Health Connector.

You should attend the Enrollment Fair if any of the following is true:

  1. You are the small business owner with 50 or fewer full-time employees.
  2. You are an insurance broker and you would like to learn more about working with the Massachusetts Health Connector.
  3. Your current small business healthcare premiums are too costly and you would like to “shop around”.
  4. You would like to learn more about the Wellness Program available to small business owners through the Massachusetts Health Connector.
  5. You would like to learn more about the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit.
  6. You are currently uninsured and would like to better understand what is available through the Health Connector.

For more information, or to RSVP, call Rep. Hogan’s office and ask for Jordan at 617.722.2692, or email Jordan.Eldridge@MAHouse.gov.

State Representative Jennifer Benson Elected To Leadership Role With Women In Government

Rep. Benson sworn into Women in Government leadership

At the 21st Annual State Directors’ and 11th Biennial First Term Legislators’ Conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida, State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) was sworn in as a 2015 State Director with Women In Government, following her election to this position by her fellow state legislative colleagues this past year.

“Women In Government congratulates Massachusetts State Representative Jennifer Benson in her position as a State Director. State Directors play a critical role in setting policy priorities for our organization,” said Dyan Alexander, Executive Director of Women In Government. “State Representative Jennifer Benson is a recognized leader in her state, and we are excited that she will now share her leadership skills with other women policymakers throughout the country.”

“Last week, I had the honor of being sworn in as a 2015 State Director for Massachusetts with Women In Government, Inc. at the 21st Annual State Directors’ Conference. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to share ideas and discuss policy solutions on a variety of issues with leaders from across the country,” said Representative Benson. “I am looking forward to serving as a State Director with Women in Government, and having an expanded network of women policymakers, who are committed to establishing effective public policies.”

At the 21st Annual State Directors’ Conference, women state legislators heard from expert speakers on a variety of public policy topics and their impact on states. Topics included developing energy diversity, the role of nutrition in healthy aging, methods for creating opportunities for families, diabetes prevention and awareness, and many others. This meeting also provided attendees with the opportunity to network with colleagues across state borders and share best practices to advance successful public policies.

About Women In Government

Women In Government Foundation, Inc. is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums, and educational resources. Women In Government serves all 1,785 women who serve in state legislatures from across the country. For more information, visit http://www.womeningovernment.org.

Benson sworn-in for fourth term as State Representative for 37th Middlesex District

Rep. Benson sworn in

BOSTON—On Wednesday Jan. 7, State Representative Jennifer Benson took the oath of office to serve a fourth term representing the 37th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The swearing-in marks the start of the 189th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) takes Oath of Office in the House Chamber on January 7, 2015.

“I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to continue serving the people of the 37th Middlesex District,” said Rep. Benson. “I am looking forward to not only continuing my work on Beacon Hill alongside my colleagues and Speaker DeLeo, but also excited to continue working with the residents and local officials in the district. As we start the new legislative session, supporting public schools and working families, special education funding and prioritizing health care access for all are a few of my many legislative priorities. I am also eager to introduce new bills including campus safety and improving access to healthy food in public schools.”

Rep. Benson represents Acton (Precincts 3, 4, 5), Ayer (Precinct 2), Boxborough, Harvard, Lunenburg (Precincts A, C, D) and Shirley in the Legislature.

Rep. Benson Announces Passage of Regional 911 Legislation

Rep. Benson with police officer

BOSTON – Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster) and Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) today announced the successful passage of legislation relative to regional 911 emergency communications districts. This legislation provides guidelines and framework for communities interested in establishing regional 911 emergency communication centers.

“This legislation sets up a clear process through which cities and towns can pursue regionalizing their 911 communications, an important cost saving measure that is vital for small communities,” said Senator Flanagan. “It is vital that we continue to make it conducive for cities and towns to streamline these types of functions in order to maximize the funding the state is able to provide municipalities.”

“Regionalized call centers, such as the Nashoba Valley Regional Emergency Communications Center, allow municipalities to see significant cost savings while continuing to provide critical emergency services for residents,” said Representative Benson. “As we continue to encourage regional partnerships in order to make the most of funding and resources, this legislation establishes comprehensive guidelines and makes the process of opening a regional 911 call center more efficient.”

Regionalization of 911 services allows towns to share dispatch services, including both emergency and non-emergency calls, in order to improve the quality of public safety and to provide cost saving measures to municipalities. Since June 2013, the Nashoba Valley Regional Emergency Communications Center has provided such shared dispatch services under an agreement between the towns of Devens, Harvard, Lancaster, and Lunenburg. This legislation will allow additional cities and towns throughout Massachusetts to set up similar services on a regional basis and to be recognized as legal entities.

The bill outlines in statute the agreements between the communities, the powers that regional centers would have, and the process to audit these entities. The legislation also puts forth mechanisms for setting up governance and organizational structures and creates planning committees to discern the feasibility of establishing centers. The bill also mandates that district boards must determine the financial details for upkeep of the centers and that the 911 emergency communication districts provide an annual financial statement to their members. This legislation would mitigate the need for special legislation, which is the current practice for opening a regional 911 center.