Representative Benson’s Office Update: November and December 2017

Around the District

On November 1, I visited the Acton Commission on Disabilities to celebrate their 30 years advocating for and assisting the disabled population in Acton. It was wonderful to celebrate the Commission’s important work and speak with constituents. Later in the month, I stopped by the Nashoba Valley Job Fair, which is organized every year by the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce and presented by State Representative Sheila Harrington and myself. While I was there, I spoke with employers based in the district and constituents who were there looking for work.

Touring New England Studios in Devens with Speaker DeLeo and some of my House colleagues.

In December, I toured New England Studios in Devens with the Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo, and several of my legislative colleagues. I’ve toured the studio before, but this time we visited the sets of Castle Rock, an upcoming Hulu series. It’s encouraging to see that New England Studio has succeeded in bringing television and film production, and the jobs that come with it, to Massachusetts and the district. Also in Devens, I participated in the annual Wreaths Across America event at the Fort Devens Cemetery on December 16. I attend this event every year to honor our fallen heroes.

I also toured the Nasoya facility in Ayer with Representative Harrington. We urged the company to continue to work to remediate the problem of the foul odors coming from their processing plant. The company has committed to working to solve the problem, and I continue to receive regular updates from the Town Administrator and Department of Environmental Protection.

Legislative Update

In November, the House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by Representative Dylan Fernandes reaffirming Massachusetts’ commitment to meeting the emissions targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, the House passed the ACCESS Bill, which guarantees the women of Massachusetts access to copay-free birth control in the wake of the Trump Administration’s decision to undermine key women’s health provisions of the Affordable Care Act. I attended the signing ceremony on November 20th and watched as Governor Baker signed the bill in to law.

The House also passed a criminal justice reform bill aimed at making the justice system more fair, reducing recidivism, and improving public safety. The legislation would allow for the expungement of certain juvenile and young adult criminal records, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for many low-level, non-violent crimes, and establish a Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Commission. It would also update the Commonwealth’s bail system, and establish limits on how long an inmate can be held in solitary confinement without review. The Senate passed a similar bill in October. The 2 bills are now being reconciled by a conference committee.

My step therapy, or “fail first” bill, An Act to Reduce Health Care Costs Through Improved Medication Management, had a hearing before the Joint Committee on Financial Services. Many doctors, patients, and advocates offered testimony in support of the bill, which would allow some patients to bypass the process by which insurance companies force patients to try a less expensive treatment before moving on to the treatment recommended by their doctors.

Additionally, Governor Baker signed H.1328 in to law on December 22, giving Devens firefighters the same protections, retirement benefits, and collective bargaining rights as other Massachusetts firefighters.

Climate Change

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

In November, I had the privilege of attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference as an official observer. Along with 3 other Massachusetts legislators, I traveled to Bonn, Germany to participate in the talks and let the world know that Massachusetts is still committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. I met with delegations from other states and countries, and discussed strategies for reducing carbon emissions, including carbon pricing and renewable energy incentives. I was proud to represent my district and state on the world stage at such an important event.

Looking Ahead

I’m looking ahead to a productive 2018, as I continue fighting for important legislation and being an advocate for my constituents. If you wish to get in touch with me, you can email me at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov or call me at (617) 722-2140.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Benson
State Representative
37th Middlesex District

Representative Benson’s Office Update: October 2017

Around the District
Last month, I attended a meeting of the Ayer Board of Selectmen where town officials and constituents were discussing the issue of the odor coming from the Nasoya factory in town. I, along with Ayer’s other state legislators, sent a letter to Nasoya telling them that we expect them to work with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to resolve this issue. I have been keeping in touch with the Town Administrator as well as officials from the DEP to ensure that Nasoya is being held accountable and is working toward a solution.

Later in the month, I met with Lunenburg officials and a representative of the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to address the safety issue of speeding vehicles on Chase Road. MassDOT was receptive to Lunenburg’s concerns, and there is already a plan in place to make safety improvements.

I also attended the annual meeting of Loaves and Fishes food pantry in Devens. Loaves and Fishes does so much important work for the towns of my district, and helped to feed more than 800 families last year by distributing over 30,000 bags of groceries.

Being recognized by Clean Water Action Massachusetts.

In Acton, I was recognized for my leadership on environmental and renewable energy legislation by Clean Water Action Massachusetts. It was an honor to receive their Legislative Leadership Award along with Representative Mary Keefe.

At the State House

Boxborough Town Planner Adam Duchesneau, and Town Administrator Selina Shaw

At a ceremony at the State House celebrating rural communities, Boxborough was awarded a MassWorks grant for $575,000 to fund sidewalk and roadway improvements in the town center near the Blanchard Memorial School. This is the fourth consecutive year the town has applied for this grant, and the persistence of the Town Planner Adam Duchesneau and Town Administrator Selina Shaw paid off.

On October 24, I presented Shirley’s Bemis Associates, Inc. an award at an event at the State House recognizing Massachusetts’ top manufacturers. In addition to being one of the largest manufacturing employers in the 37th Middlesex District, Bemis has become an integral part of the community since moving to Shirley in 1990. I was happy to nominate them for the award and present it to them.

I also attended an event that featured a discussion about women in the military, where Congresswoman Tsongas was honored. The Congresswoman, who is retiring at the end of her current term, serves on the House Committee on Armed Services.

Committee Update
The Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight held four hearings in October for dozens of bills related to state assets, regulations, and procurement. The Committee will be conducting two more hearings in November on bills related to public records, ethics, and other matters.

Legislative & Budget Update
In October, the House of Representatives voted to override more of the Governor’s budget vetoes, restoring funding to suicide prevention programs, local councils on aging, and the After-School and Out-of-School Time grant program.

Additionally, I voted with my colleagues to pass H.1110, An Act Establishing Regional Commissions on the Status of Women and Girls, H.3952, An Act to Further Define Standards of Employee Safety, and S.2178, An Act Relative to Handicapped Parking.

Looking Ahead
In November, I will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. I will be serving as an official observer at the conference with unrestricted access to all meetings. At the Conference, I will also be discussing my carbon pricing legislation, which would establish a fee-and-rebate system on carbon to encourage the reduced use of these fuels, and fund infrastructure projects designed to reduce emissions.

As always, I can be reached at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov or (617) 722-2140.

Sincerely,

 

 

Jennifer Benson
State Representative
37th Middlesex District

 

Rep. Benson to Serve as Official Observer at UN Climate Conference

BOSTON – This week, State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) will travel to Bonn, Germany to serve as an official observer at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Along with a delegation of 3 other Massachusetts legislators (Representative Jim Cantwell, Representative Josh Cutler, and Senator Michael Barrett), Representative Benson will have unrestricted access to the Conference as world leaders discuss the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. She will be attending meetings with emissaries of the nearly 200 countries and territories that have signed on to the Agreement to discuss their approaches to reducing climate emissions.

“Since the federal government has abandoned its leadership on climate change by signaling that the United States will leave the Paris Agreement, it is vital that we take up the mantle of leadership on this issue at the state level,” said Rep. Jennifer Benson. “I am proud to be representing my district and my state in Germany, and to tell the international community that Massachusetts is still committed to do our part to combat climate change.”

At the Conference, the Representative will also be discussing her carbon pricing legislation filed in the Massachusetts Legislature, H.1726, An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Create Jobs. The legislation would establish a fee and rebate system on carbon to encourage the reduced use of these fuels, and fund infrastructure projects designed to reduce emissions.

The House of Representatives recently voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill reaffirming the Commonwealth’s commitment to meeting the emissions targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

A Statement from Representative Benson on the Passage of the ACCESS Bill

“Today, the House of Representatives voted to guarantee the women of Massachusetts access to copay-free birth control. Birth control allows women to plan when and if they want to start a family, and is used to treat a number of health conditions that affect women. Nearly 99% of women have used birth control at some point in their lives.

I was an early cosponsor of the ACCESS bill when it was filed in January, but I regret that I was unable to cast my vote for the bill due to my attendance at the Women in Government State Directors and Health Care Summit. I applaud the House’s actions today, and the leadership of Representatives Haddad and Scibak. I plan to formally record my support for the bill with the House Clerk’s office.

Due to the Affordable Care Act, since 2010, 1.4 million women in Massachusetts have gained access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. With the Trump Administration’s decision last month to undermine the women’s health provisions of the Act, it is vital that this bill is quickly passed into law to ensure that Massachusetts women continue to have access to affordable and safe birth control.”

Shirley Company Recognized at State House for “Manufacturing Month”

BOSTON – Bemis Associates, Inc. of Shirley received a Manufacturer of the Year award at a State House ceremony last Tuesday, October 24. The company was nominated by State Representative Jennifer Benson, who represents Shirley in the House of Representatives.

The Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus hosted its Second annual Manufacturing award ceremony to recognize 53 manufacturers that showcase the Commonwealth’s innovative manufacturing industry.

Bemis’s award was presented by Representative Benson, along with a citation honoring the company for their commitment to the community, including their philanthropic work with the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District, Mount Wachusett Community College, and the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Devens.

“In addition to being one of the largest manufacturing employers in the district, Bemis has done a lot of great work in the community since moving to Shirley in 1990,” said Representative Benson. “I was happy to nominate them for this well-deserved award and recognize them for their philanthropy.”

Formed in August 2014, the Manufacturing Caucus includes more than 60 legislators from around the Commonwealth, including Representative Benson. The Caucus aims to increase Massachusetts’ competitiveness in manufacturing by providing legislative support.

As the sixth largest employment sector in Massachusetts, manufacturing output in the state is at its highest level in history and accounts for more than 11 percent of the state’s economy. Roughly 250,000 employees work in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, comprising 7.8% of the total workforce in the state.