Around the District
I spent a lot of time in the District last month, meeting with constituents and attending legislative breakfasts. Early in the month, I went to the Johnny Appleseed Tourism breakfast to for an update about the tourism industry in north central Massachusetts. There are many encouraging signs of growth, but continued investment is needed at the state level to keep the momentum going. I attended the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS) legislative breakfast as well, where I discussed my support for regional school districts and my efforts to increase special education “circuit breaker” funding for public schools.
I also stopped by the Nashoba Valley Job Fair to chat with employers and job seekers. The Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce has put on the event every year since 2013, with Representative Sheila Harrington and I acting as sponsors. Later in the month, I participated in the Boxborough Grange’s 131st anniversary meeting, where Senator Jamie Eldridge and I presented George Boyden, Jr with citations honoring him for receiving the 2017 Community Citizen Award. It was wonderful to celebrate Boxborough’s agricultural past, present, and future.
On March 16, I met with a group of Lunenburg Girl Scouts at my District office, where I talked about state government and being a woman in politics. I’m so happy to see more scouting troops studying government and encouraging their scouts to be civic-minded.
I also volunteered with Meals On Wheels, where I helped deliver food to the elderly in Acton and Boxborough. Along my route, I talked with many of them about what Meals On Wheels means to them, including Frances, who is in her nineties, lives on her own, and can’t cook anymore. She depends on Meals On Wheels to deliver a hot meal to her every day. I also met Stuart, who uses a walker to get around, making food preparation nearly impossible. He also depends on the Meals On Wheels program.
Unfortunately, the program is being threatened by federal budget cuts, as President Trump’s proposed budget completely eliminates the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides much of the funding for Meals On Wheels. I believe that as our population ages, we should be protecting and expanding programs like Meals On Wheels, not eliminating them.
At the State House
March is always a busy month at the State House, as constituents and advocacy groups begin reaching out to discuss their legislative and budget priorities.
I had a lot of fun meeting with Girl Scouts from Harvard, who were visiting the State House as part of a program to earn their government participation badge. I also spoke to members of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, who were at the State House for their Community Leadership Institute program.
At a forum on climate change hosted by Representative Frank Smizik, I discussed my carbon pricing bill, 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 incentivize a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
On May 22, the House and Senate passed a supplemental spending bill that includes additional
funding for sheriffs departments, the Department of Children and Families, and elder home care.
The House also passed a bill providing $200 million in funding for local road repair and
improvements to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The committee on which I serve as Chair, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection &
Professional Licensure, has been assigned more than 200 bills so far. We have started putting
together the calendar for hearings to examine each and every bill, and I’m looking forward to our first hearing in May.
In April, the House of Representatives will release their budget, and begin the process of drafting
amendments. I will continue to fight for my constituents’ priorities, including Chapter 70 education
funding, special education funding, and local aid. I encourage constituents to reach out to me at
Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov, or (617) 722-2014, to let me know what their budget priorities