Throughout the past seven years, I’ve worked to pass a variety of legislation, addressing issues from quality of education and healthcare to the unique needs of the Second Hampshire District.
Accomplishments in the Legislature:
Funding for Local Projects
|MCC Direct Grants – Hadley – Multi Arts, Inc.||$3,000|
|MCC Local Program Grants – South Hadley Cultural Council||$5,980|
|MCC Local Program Grants – Hadley Cultural Council||$3,870|
|MCC Local Program Grants – ECA+ (Easthampton Cultural Council)||$6,280|
|Replacement of Northampton Street – Easthampton||$300,000|
|Public library construction – South Hadley||$4,841,312|
|Housing rehabilitation and Everett Street improvements – Easthampton||$895,950|
|Buttery Brook Park – South Hadley||$250,000|
|Dike Repairs – Hadley||$800,000|
|Nashawannuck Pond Dredging – Easthampton||$235,000|
|Reunion Center & Youth Entrepreneurship Project – Easthampton||$400,000|
|Old Firehouse Museum – South Hadley||$50,000|
|Beachgrounds Park Upgrade – South Hadley||$500,000|
|Ledges Golf Club Clubhouse – South Hadley||$37,088|
Strengthening the State’s Oral Health Program
Poor oral health can affect some of our most basic activities, such as speaking, eating and learning and working. Dental disease also causes the state to waste thousands of dollars in preventable emergency care. To tackle this problem, the legislature actively worked to address the issue of improved access for all. An Act to Improve, Protect, and Promote the Oral Health of the Commonwealth, strengthened the state’s oral health infrastructure, improved access, and changed the way dental care is delivered. This historic piece of legislation was a remarkable collaboration between the Legislature, the Administration, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and health care advocates. Overall, this legislation created a healthier Massachusetts and brings us another step closer to fully meeting the oral health needs of the Commonwealth.
Building Awareness for Shaken Baby Syndrome
There are an estimated 1200-1500 reported cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) in the U.S. each year and it is the leading cause of death due to child abuse in the U.S., with one out of every four SBS victims dying from their injuries. The 50 percent who survive suffer from brain damage, seizures, paralysis, blindness, and other learning disabilities. An Act Relative to Baby Shaken Syndrome Awareness established a statewide initiative to educate parents, caregivers, health care providers and other professionals regarding the dangers of shaking infants and children and the risks associated with SBS. The bill required that the Department of Public Health develop educational materials, develop a support program for SBS victims and their families, and institute a surveillance program to track the incidence of SBS and traumatic brain injury in infants and children. As a result of this legislation, parents are provided with information on SBS and prevention measures prior to leaving the hospital with their newborns. Because of this legislative victory, some children who might have died or been injured will be spared.
Creating an Anti-Bullying School Culture
An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools provides a proactive approach to addressing Massachusetts’ bullying problems. In addition to requiring each school district– including public, charter, and all non-public schools—to develop prevention and intervention plans, the legislation also updates the definition of bullying to include cyber-bullying, makes reporting mandatory, incorporates the role of parents and guardians in bullying prevention strategies, and requires age-appropriate curricula on bullying for students, and professional development for teachers and other staff. Overall, this comprehensive legislative will help to ensure a safe, healthy and productive learning environment for our state’s students.
Some of the key pieces of legislation that I filed during the current session are:
H 345, An Act relative to health care affordability. This bill strengthens Chapter 58, the landmark health care reform legislation of 2006, by ensuring that health insurance is truly affordable for the citizens of the Commonwealth. The legislation expands the definition of affordability to include deductibles, co-pays and other out of pocket expenses..
H 325, An Act to provide coverage for hearing aids. This bill would require health insurers to provide the same coverage as the Group Insurance Commission, which is full coverage for the first $500 and 80 percent coverage of the next $1,500 in the cost of one hearing aid per hearing impaired ear every 24 months for insured individuals.
H 841, An Act to establish delay penalties in highway construction projects. This bill would enable the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to impose financial penalties against contractors for unnecessary delays in highway construction projects. The need for this legislation was evident after witnessing the long delays in the completion of the Route 9 widening in Hadley and the Route 91 bridge reconstruction project in Easthampton which created significant hardships for commuters, residents and business owners.