Around the District
Memorial Day Observed in Boxborough
On Memorial Day, I marched in Boxborough’s parade and spoke at North Cemetery. It is important to take time to reflect each year and appreciate our fallen veterans.
Despite the rainy weather, it was a beautiful and moving ceremony thanks to the volunteers, the Boxborough Minutemen, and the talented R.J. Grey Junior High Band.
Harvard Receives Two Grants
It was announced last month that Harvard received two grants from the state. First, the town was awarded $192,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to renovate and make accessible the Hapgood Library (also known as the Old Library). The Old Library, located in the center of town, is currently leased by the Harvard Cultural Collaborative (HCC), which uses the historic building as a community center and cultural exhibit space. I was happy to support the HCC when they were applying for the grant, and I’m glad the Cultural Facilities Fund decided to finance this worthy project.
Later in the month, it was announced that Harvard will be receiving a $35,000 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant. The MVP grant program provides resources to aid communities as they prepare for the effects of climate change by financing vulnerability assessments and the development of resiliency plans. I applaud Harvard for being proactive in preparing for the effects of climate change, and I know they will put this funding to good use.
Acton Public Servants Honored at S.T.A.R. Awards
I attended the S.T.A.R. Awards and helped honor Acton municipal employees for their decades of service to the town. The 26 honorees included Fire Department Captain Jack White for his 30 years of service, and Highway Superintendent Richard Waite for his 40 years of service.
Acton Board of Selectmen Meeting
I met with the Acton Board of Selectmen to update them on the ongoing FY2019 budget process and discuss the town’s legislative priorities. We discussed Chapter 70 education funding, local aid, and my efforts to increase special education funding. We also talked about regional school transportation and the earmark for the Acton-Maynard senior and commuter shuttles.
Lunenburg Resident Recognized by Energy Secretary
At an event at the State House last month, Dr. Sarah Cammer, a Lunenburg resident and science teacher, was recognized by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton as an outstanding STEM instructor for her work educating students in the area of environmental science and technology.
Lunenburg/Ayer-Shirley Hockey Team Visits State House
The Lunenburg/Ayer-Shirley Men’s High School Hockey Team visited the State House on May 3, where they were congratulated by their legislative delegation for winning the 2018 State Championship. They enjoyed a tour of the State House and a meeting with Governor Charlie Baker.
House Votes to Raise Tobacco Buying Age to 21
I voted with the House of Representatives to pass a bill that would prohibit the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to those under the age of 21. More than 170 cities and towns in Massachusetts have already raised the minimum sales age to 21, and this bill would expand that policy to the entire state. The bill would also expand the state’s smoke-free workplace law to include vaping, prohibit vaping on school grounds, and ban healthcare institutions from selling tobacco and nicotine products.
Civics Education Required Under House Bill
To prepare the next generation of engaged, responsible citizens, the House passed a bill that would require Massachusetts public schools to teach civics as part of their social sciences curriculum.
American history and the United States constitution are already taught in schools, and this legislation would add lessons about the branches of government, the electoral process, and the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy to curriculum requirements. Additionally, the bill mandates that middle and high schools provide opportunities for students to learn about civics through experiential projects.
Honoring our Veterans with the BRAVE Act
Just before Memorial Day I was proud to vote for the BRAVE Act to support Massachusetts’ veterans and military families. The BRAVE Act allows municipal buildings to have reserved parking spaces for veterans, increases the burial expense allowance for indigent veterans, expands property tax exemptions for veterans, and designates the Fort Devens Museum in the district as the official veterans and military museum of Massachusetts.
Gun Violence Prevention Bill Clears the House
The House passed legislation to establish a process to allow family members, household members, and licensing authorities to petition the court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) for individuals who “pose a risk of causing bodily injury to self or others”. An ERPO, if issued by the court, is in effect for up to one year and results in the immediate suspension and surrender of all firearms and ammunition.
In the wake of yet another series of mass shootings, I heard from dozens of constituents calling for action. I voted with the House to pass this common sense bill that will protect innocent lives while preserving the right to due process.
In June, the House will taking up legislation funding capital improvements, and I will be attending several events in the district. You can contact my office at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov, or by calling my State House office at (617) 722-2140 or my district office at (978) 582-4146 ext. 4.