Representative Benson’s Office Update: January and February 2018

Around the District

In January, I met with the leadership team at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, where I provided a legislative update and heard from the Chamber about their 2019 budget priorities.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I attended the annual MLK Day Breakfast at Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton. The speaker, Boston Globe Associate Editor and columnist Renée Graham, spoke about Dr. King’s legacy, emphasizing his role as a revolutionary figure. I also participated in Career Day at Lunenburg Middle and High School, where I met with students and talked about my career in public service as an elected official.

On January 20, I attended and spoke at Ayer’s 2018 Women’s March with my daughter, Maya. It was inspiring to see hundreds of people from in and around the 37th Middlesex District come together to support equality and protest the current presidential administration’s policies.

In Shirley, at The Bull Run, I organized an Economic Development Day. I brought together House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, and Cannabis Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan to talk about economic development and the economic outlook for the Commonwealth. Nearly 100 business and community leaders came to learn about development opportunities for the north central Massachusetts region, and ask questions about state resources and best practices.

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At the Economic Development Forum in Shirley with Commissioner Flanagan, Secretary Ash, and House Speaker DeLeo.

In Acton, I stopped by the Acton Chinese Language School to celebrate the Chinese New Year. In Harvard, I was at a League of Women Voters panel discussion on women running for public office.  I also visited the Dr. Franklin Perkins School in Lancaster, where I attended their legislative open house and met with constituents and their children enrolled at the School. The Perkins School serves children and adolescents with special psychiatric, social, and emotional needs.

Legislative Update

Screenshot-2018-3-14 Jennifer Benson ( RepJenBenson) Twitter

At the Youth Lobby Day for carbon pricing with the advocates.

January was an important month for my carbon pricing legislation. I was interviewed by Haverhill Community Television’s Richard Smyth, and I talked about carbon pricing and my role as an official observer at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last November. On January 23, the organization Our Climate held a Youth Lobby Day for Carbon Pricing, where dozens of young activists met with their Representatives and Senators to ask them to support carbon pricing. Seeing the grassroots activism among young people around my carbon pricing bill has been so exciting and encouraging.

At an MIT Forum, I spoke on a panel about carbon pricing, and my preference for a revenue-positive policy that would generate resources to fund renewable energy initiatives. On January 31, I announced the formation of a multi-state coalition for carbon pricing in association with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. There is a lot of momentum in Massachusetts behind the policy, and I’m hopeful that the Legislature will act on carbon pricing soon.

I hosted the annual legislative briefing on Special Education Circuit Breaker funding at the State House, where I discussed the important of this funding with my colleagues in the House and Senate. Circuit Breaker funding allows school districts to meet the needs of children with severe disabilities, including autism and other neurological conditions.

In February, the House of Representatives passed legislation providing further protections and resources for consumers in the event of a data security breach. In this legislation, credit freezes, lifts, and removals must be provided to consumers free of charge, and credit agencies must provide one year of free credit monitoring after a breach. I filed the original bill this legislation was based on back in 2016, and worked with the Attorney General and advocates to strengthen the bill after the Equifax breach.

The House also passed the PATCH Act, which would close a loophole that previously allowed for the private health care information of an individual to be shared with the primary health plan subscriber without that individual’s permission. The Senate has passed a similar bill, and the two bills are now being reconciled in a conference committee.

Committee Update

February was the Joint Rule 10 deadline, when the status of bills in most of the joint legislative committees must be decided, including the one I Chair, the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. I worked with other Committee members in the best interest of the Commonwealth to make thoughtful, well-researched decisions on the hundreds of bills that came before the Committee. There are still several late-file bills in Committee, which will receive a hearing soon.

Looking Ahead


Picking up my nomination papers at the State House.

I picked up my nomination papers at the State House in January to run for another term as your State Representative. Each time I’ve taken that yellow envelope, I think about the 37th Middlesex District – the friends I’ve made, the families I’ve helped, and the great honor it is to serve. I humbly ask for your support to continue this work. I attended several Democratic caucuses to collect signatures to get on the ballot in November, and will continue engaging with voters in the district throughout the campaign.

To reach out to my office for assistance with a constituent matter, or to express your opinion on legislation or budget items, please email or call (617) 722-2140. My district office can be reached at (978) 582-4146 ext. 4.



Jennifer Benson

House Passes Legislation to Enhance Consumer Protections Following Data Breaches

BOSTON –Representative Jennifer Benson joined her colleagues in the House this week to pass legislation providing added protections and resources for consumers in the event of a data security breach that impacts a credit agency or other business.

Under this legislation, credit freezes, lifts or removals must be provided to consumers without a charge. Credit agencies or businesses must provide one year of free credit monitoring after any breach.

“This legislation includes many powerful consumer protection tools that also modernize the way we do business,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “I thank Chairman Chan for his exhaustive study into this complex problem and Chairwoman Benson for her ongoing commitment.”

“As an advocate for consumer protection, I filed legislation to make it easier for consumers to freeze their credit reports so that victims of identity theft and fraud could more quickly regain control of their credit,” said Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg). “In the wake of the Equifax breach last year, I worked with the Attorney General and advocates to strengthen the bill with additional language offering further protections. I’m proud of my colleagues in the House for coming together to pass this important legislation to protect and empower Massachusetts consumers.”

The legislation updates the framework for the implementation of a freeze and related communication including:

  • Modernizes the current law by allowing consumers to request credit freezes electronically or by telephone.
  • Requires clear and accurate disclosure to consumers of basic information about credit freezes.
  • In the event of a security breach, mandates credit agencies place a security freeze on a consumer report within one day of an electronic or telephone request, and within three days of receipt of a written request.
  • Credit agencies must send confirmation of the security freeze within three days.
  • Credit agencies must lift a security freeze within three days of a written request and 15 minutes of an electronic/ phone request.
  • When a consumer requests a freeze, national credit reporting agencies must inform consumers of other reporting agencies that may have files on the consumer. They must also inform consumers of appropriate websites, toll-free numbers and mailing addresses that would permit the consumer to place additional freezes.

For the first time in Massachusetts, this legislation establishes specific guidelines for parents and guardians to freeze accounts of children under the age of 16 and incapacitated individuals.

The legislation also updates notification guidelines for breached entities and third party affiliates.

  • Breached entities must provide consumers with immediate notice and timely updates.
  • Upon receiving notice of a breach, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation must post notice online within 24 hours.

Additionally, the Attorney General must provide information online to consumers regarding the breach. This bill also updates current law to require companies and organizations to obtain consent before running a credit report.

Statement on H.3361 (Demographic Data Disaggregation)

Following a thorough process during which testimony was heard and collected from over 500 members of the public regarding H.3361, the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight has voted to substitute the original bill with new legislation, titled “An Act to Establish a Special Commission to Investigate and Study the Feasibility and Effects of Collecting Disaggregate Data.”

This legislation would establish a special commission to study the feasibility and impact of directing state agencies to collect disaggregated demographic data for all ethnic and racial groups, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The proposed special commission would be comprised of 11 commissioners, including legislators, as well as members of the Governor’s Advisory Commissions, and appointees from the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office. The commission would submit its recommendations to the Legislature by December 31, 2018.

I had concerns about the original legislation from the start, but every bill must have, and deserves, a thorough process in committee and in the hearing room. I was disappointed at the vitriol aimed at Chairman Chan, Chairman Timilty, and myself from some opponents of H.3361. It was inappropriate and damaging to this process. I am appreciative of those who conducted themselves with civility while delivering passionate testimony.

Jennifer Benson
Chair, Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight

Rep. Benson Announces Multi-State Carbon Pricing Coalition

State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) and State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) held a press conference at the State House today to announce a major development in the campaign to put a price on carbon in Massachusetts.

The legislators, both of whom have carbon pricing bills before the MA Legislature this session, discussed the creation of a new coalition in support of carbon pricing made up of lawmakers from nine states (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.) The group comes together as the Carbon Costs Coalition, in association with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

The lawmakers were joined by Michael Green, Executive Director of the Climate Action Business Association, who announced the growing momentum of support for carbon pricing within the business community.

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 or call me at (617) 722-2140.


Jennifer Benson
State Representative
37th Middlesex District