Climate Change Bill Signing, Social Emotional Learning Forum, Vaccine Oversight + More
Plus News from the Senate + Around the District
Updates from Beacon Hill & MetroWest
Spring is in the air!
It goes without saying that this has been a difficult time for all of us, but hope is on the horizon.
Your actions in social distancing and wearing a mask have made a positive difference. Until a majority of our residents are vaccinated, please continue to take these precautions. I also ask that you take special care of your mental health, and reach out to people who may be isolated during this time.
Over the past year I have been overwhelmed at the kindness and support the people of the Commonwealth have shown each other. These moments have reminded why I am so grateful to call Massachusetts home. They have also reminded me why I am resolute in my commitment to public service. As I have become fond of saying, we are in this together, and we will get through this together.
As we look to spring, there are so many reasons to be cautiously optimistic. But I know many are still struggling. Please don't hesitate to contact my office at (617) 722-1500 for help for you or a neighbor or loved one.
Fighting Climate Change
Nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap,was recently signed into law here in Massachusetts. The new law will put our Commonwealth on a path to lowering harmful carbon emissions while fueling a growing green economy and improving the lives of those in underserved communities. Now is the time to be proactive in our approach to the climate crisis, and I am proud of the Senate for getting this done!
Included in this legislation are: statewide emissions limits and subsector limits every five years to reach 50% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050; criteria to define and strengthen protections for environmental justice populations; a specialized energy code that will allow for net-zero building construction for towns that want it; an increase in the requirements for the state to procure offshore wind energy; and low-income solar set-asides within the statewide solar incentive program.
I am incredibly proud to have partnered with the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy to present my fourth annual Social-Emotional Learning Forum, "Supporting Our Students Through COVID-19 & Beyond."Never before have our young people's needs for social-emotional learning been so great. For many of them, this has been the hardest year of their lives. Their success during and after this pandemic depends on their continued development of executive functions – skills like self-awareness, responsible decision-making, and healthy relationship-building.
For information about social-emotional learning, including tools for parents and educators to reduce student stress and promote overall wellness, I've included a recording of the event, featuring education experts, above. More resources are available here.
Women's History Month and the HERStory Project
Every day I go to work in the State House, I am surrounded by paintings and photos of prominent men from Massachusetts' history. The stories of the many, many incredible women who have contributed to this great Commonwealth—and our great nation—have too often been lost to history.
It is therefore my great honor and privilege to help to tell their stories, and to make the faces that we see in the State House more representative of the rich diversity that make our state great.
For these reasons, I unveiled a photo exhibition in the Senate President's suite in the State House dedicated to celebrating the often unsung stories of women of color throughout Massachusetts' history.
HERstory: Volume II is the second installment of photos in the President's suite to acknowledge the accomplishments of women with connections to Massachusetts.
Read more about HERStory here. Since the State House is currently closed to the public, a website containing photos and short biographies of each of the honorees can be found here.
Overseeing the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
The first priority of the Senate continues to be the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our residents' physical safety. To that end, the Joint Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management has held two oversight hearings on the Commonwealth's vaccine plan. You can read more about these hearings below:
I hosted U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Representative Katherine Clark, and State Representative Maria Robinson for a tour of the MetroWest YMCA. A non-profit dedicated to youth empowerment, MetroWest YMCA has done a superb job offering vital services to essential workers and their children during the pandemic, including early education and food security.
We had a great discussion on these issues and the need for more accessible childcare and paid leave, as well as the implementation of the American Rescue Plan passed in the U.S. Congress.
Read more about this storyhere, and more pictureshere.
Other District Updates:
Transportation: MetroWest Regional Transit Authorityreceived a grant for Sunday Services to Natick and Framingham from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. It's important that our public transportation systems are equipped to serve residents at a variety of times, not just during the standard workweek.
Vaccines: A Mass Vaccine Site opened in Westborough as part of a regional collaborative including the towns of Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton. An additional vaccine site opened at the Natick Mall. This will make the distribution of vaccines more efficient and fair for residents in MetroWest.
Unity: I spoke virtually to share recent and upcoming work done by the legislature to make the Commonwealth a more inclusive place at Jewish Family Service's Anti-Racism and Fighting Anti-Semitism Committee in Framingham. I also spoke at the Franklin Area Against Racism's inaugural meeting, hosted by students of Franklin High School.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Ten weeks after I promised swift action on COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill that would guarantee five paid days off for every employee in the Commonwealth. The bill also seeks to stabilize the state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund, provides substantial tax relief to businesses and workers, and delays the state tax filing deadline.
To help protect employees on the front lines, and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, this bill ensures that all workers in Massachusetts have access to paid leave if they are unable to work as a result of a COVID-19 infection or a quarantine order. Significantly, given the state's push to increase vaccination rates, employees will be able to use this paid leave time to take time off to receive the vaccine. In addition, the legislation provides for leave if the worker needs time to care for a family member unable to work because of COVID.