Around the District

During the month of January, I was able to get out to various communities in the 37th Middlesex District. In Harvard, I met with the president of the League of Women Voters to discuss LWV's Civility Matters project and their commitment to work towards increasing courteousness in the town.

I also attended a Town Meeting in Lunenburg, and the Legislative Breakfast for Superintendents hosted by Fitchburg State University. Lastly, I met with Paul Turner, in Acton, from the Council on Aging to discuss the COA's legislative concerns pertaining to elder care.

At the beginning of the month, I attended the Fitchburg Line Working Group meeting in Devens. This was a great opportunity to discuss the status of the Fitchburg Line upgrades and the next steps for surrounding towns' Commuter Rail parking issues. It is wonderful to see a combined effort of town officials, legislators and organizations working toward addressing transportation issues in the region.

At the end of the month, I presented citations to seven of my constituents, as they received awards for their work in the community at the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner.

Around the Statehouse

The month of January has been a month full of briefings, hearings and celebratory events around the Statehouse.

My staff and I continue to work, on a daily basis, with Senator Thomas McGee (3rd Essex), and the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership (MAP) in order to ensure the Massachusetts Afterschool and Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council is a success.

We attended multiple briefings pertaining to the Home Modification Loan Program, increasing rates of flood insurance, and the Mass Cultural Council budget priorities.

We were also able to attend the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's (MAPC) fifth annual open house. It was a great experience to see the work MAPC is doing with 101 communities in Massachusetts on housing, growth implementation, agriculture and environment, and more.

Health Care Financing

As vice chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, I visited both Emerson Hospital in Concord and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Each facility visit was a great opportunity, as a Representative of the 37th Middlesex District, and for my work on the committee.

It was important to me to see both sites firsthand, and establish strong lines of communication with administration at the hospital and institute.

Additional Committee Updates

The Joint Committee on Public Service held four hearings in January to discuss bills concerning retirement practices, unfunded pension and Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) liability, among others.

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy held one hearing in January to discuss two pieces of legislation concerning vegetation removal by public utility companies, and distributed generation contracts.

Legislative Update

Throughout January, I met with many constituents and organizations to discuss legislative initiatives.

We discussed everything from the patient safety bill to bills relating to incarcerated individuals, adults with developmental disabilities, retirement classification bills and the Spouses as Caregivers bill.

I am delighted to announce that the Home Rule Petition, "An Act Amending the Special Legislation Establishing the Acton Community Housing Corporation" (H.3833) I filed on behalf of Acton was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick into law on Jan. 24.

In January, the House had three formal sessions to discuss many pieces of legislation, including the transportation bond bill. The transportation bond bill includes a record amount of $300 million in Chapter 90 funds for cities and towns to support road repair.

Budget Season

It is hard to believe it is that time of year again. On Jan. 22, Patrick released his fiscal year 2015 budget recommendations, referred to as House 2.

Governor Patrick's fiscal 2015 budget recommendations can be accessed at mass.gov/bb/h1/fy15h1.

My staff and I are working hard to be in touch with school districts, town officials and organizations to become aware of their budget priorities for the fiscal 2015 budget.

We will discuss our proposed budget in the House in April.

I want to thank all of you for communicating your concerns and priorities over the course of the month. As always, I encourage all of you to keep in touch by contacting my office at 617-722-2430 or sending me an email at jennifer.benson@mahouse.gov.

JEN BENSON

State Representative (D-Lunenburg)