Yesterday I released my initial “Agenda for Western Mass,” crafted during the first six weeks of my tenure here in the Massachusetts Senate. This agenda is based primarily upon feedback I received from residents during the campaign, recent meetings, calls and emails, and at ‘Speak Up Western Mass’ gatherings.
This list is not exhaustive of the efforts my team and I have been working on, but serves as a framework for action. I am feeling tremendous energy from voters right now, this is an effort to translate your priorities in policy. The work continues.
To review the text of bills I have sponsored and co-sponsored, as well as track their progress throughout the legislative session, visit https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/AGH0
Agenda for Western Mass.
Economy & Jobs
- Fighting to finalize high speed internet throughout western Mass by working with MBI to ensure towns have the resources and options they need, and working with community leaders to advocate and support their individual Last Mile projects.
- Improving transportation by co-sponsoring legislation for east-west rail, working to make NYC - Berkshires rail a reality, and promoting innovative public transportation options to enhance service locally.
- Will work with regional leaders to develop a package of support small to middle sized businesses by leveraging tax incentives, links to area universities for technical assistance, finalizing state funding for the Berkshire Innovation Center, strengthen publicly-funded elements of our creative economy and more.
- Promoting workforce development and creating pathways by creating a study of vocational program access and working to enable clinical and professional degrees at MCLA.
- Co-sponsoring legislation to give local businesses the tools they need to develop innovative products.
Working Families & Income Inequality
- Standing up for working families by filing legislation to help with childcare costs through expanding access to vouchers.
- Co-Sponsored paid family leave legislation.
- Working for a $15 minimum wage while protecting our small businesses.
- Fighting for wage growth in key western Mass sectors.
- Repairing holes in our safety net so families have the support they need, including by co-sponsoring legislation to give a tax credit for family caregivers or addressing the “SNAP Gap”.
- Co-sponsored a bill for Universal Pre-K.
- Co-sponsored legislation to reform the Foundation Budget formula and limiting unfunded mandates.
- Joined the Legislative Regional Schools Caucus and working to ensure the state to fully reimburses regional transportation costs.
- Fighting for rural sparsity aid for our schools.
- Working to make college affordable by co-sponsoring bills that encourage employers to contribute to workers’ student loan repayment, create a loan repayment program for social workers, and establish a student borrower bill of rights.
Energy & the Environment
- Co-sponsored An Act Creating 21st Century Massachusetts Clean Energy Jobs that invests in clean energy jobs, increases the Renewable Portfolio Standards, prohibits pipelines on Article 97 lands, lifts the solar net metering cap, and more.
- Promoting green energy industry development in western Mass.
- Working to convene a local Energy Roundtable to address cost concerns while investing in renewables.
- Supporting the effort to oppose rate increases proposed by Eversource.
- Co-sponsored legislation requiring divestment from fossil fuel companies by the Massachusetts Retirement System.
- Became Senate co-chair of the Legislative Rural Caucus and leading an effort to identify and change government regulations that do not make sense for small towns. Filed legislation to support rural volunteer ambulance services.
- Support the effort to explore shared services for municipalities, school districts, and other public entities.
- Fighting for fair PILOT reimbursements in the state budget.
- Will work to develop a sparsity aid formula for our rural school districts.
- Supporting agriculture by identifying new markets for western Mass producers to sell their products in Logan Airport and along the Mass Pike, and co-sponsoring legislation to create an Agricultural Tourism study, increase dairy farm tax credits, and enable farmer-distiller/brewer products to be sold at farmer’s markets, while also joining the effort to pass an omnibus Ag Bill.
- Co-sponsored legislation to make insurance companies join the fight, including providing 30 days of treatment when necessary and supporting Recovery Coaches.
- Joined efforts to ensure alternative pain management measures are available to minimize use of opioids.
- Co-sponsored legislation to add Methadone to the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program.
- Fighting to fund treatment and recovery centers in the region.
- Co-sponsored legislation to enable treatment in County Houses of Correction.
Creating a Vibrant Region
- Investing in regional assets to retain and attract visitors and new residents: Preserve easy access to nature: Ensure development of regional mountain bike trail system, support the High Road walking trail, Greylock Glen and others; World class culture: supporting regional arts and culture institutions, bolster the northern Berkshire County Cultural Corridor; and Put western Mass’ growing food tourism movement on the map.
- Supporting the effort to strategically brand the above by bolstering 1Berkshire, Berkshire Farm and Table, the Mohawk Trail Association, and others taking the lead.
- Vibrant Downtown Pittsfield: working to continue to encourage downtown housing developments, reshape North Street, support Tyler Street Transformative Develop Initiative.
- Lifting all neighborhoods through community support and youth development.
- Co-sponsored legislation to ensure funding for the Community Preservation Act is sustainable so more communities can invest in green space, historic buildings, housing and recreation.
Standing up for Vets
- Co-sponsored legislation aimed at increasing civilian employment opportunities for Veterans.
- Co-Sponsored a bill authorizing property tax reductions for Veterans in exchange for volunteer service in their community.
- Working to protect medically needy Veterans by reducing the amount of countable income through legislation.
- Co-sponsored legislation to create an official designation for Gold-Star Families in Massachusetts.
- Ensuring federal government stands for local Vets: convened an event at Soldier On in Pittsfield to introduce their programs and services to US Senator Ed Markey.
Democracy & Civil Liberties
- Co-sponsoring the ‘We The People Act’ to call for an end to big money in politics.
- Co-sponsored Automatic and Election Day voter registration bills to eliminate barriers to participating in our democracy.
- Sponsoring legislation requiring members of the LGBTQ community be seated on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Advisory Board to combat inequality.
- Voted for the Massachusetts Senate Resolution calling on President Trump to rescind his Executive Order on Immigration and published an Op Ed sharing my personal views on this matter, largely informed by my decade of service to the United Nations in the Middle East.
- Co-sponsored the Safe Communities Act to ensure that all families in Massachusetts have the respect and security they deserve.
Health Care & Seniors
- Lending support to a bill that would increase transparency of key pharmaceutical drugs in an effort to drive down costs.
- Reigning in costs while ensuring access by supporting the implementation of Single-Payer Healthcare in Massachusetts.
- Co-sponsoring legislation to support family caretaking so that seniors can remain at home and a part of their communities.
- Supporting legislation to invest in our community hospitals that save costs while maintaining high quality of care.
- Co-sponsoring legislation to ensure more sustainable funding for prevention and wellness as well as anti-tobacco efforts.