In Newsletters, The People's Blog, Updates from Jo

Greetings, 

The top of this newsletter is all about redistricting. The bottom half contains a lot of important updates.

Once every decade, the U.S. takes a census — a count — of the people living in the nation. That count drives another once-a-decade process: Redistricting. Redistricting is not a spectator sport. It needs your input as (new) district lines can affect representation.

Here are seven things to know about redistricting:

1. Redistricting is a process where district lines are redrawn to accommodate shifts in population. In Massachusetts, it affects nine United States Representatives, 40 State Senators, 160 State Representatives, and eight Governor’s Council members. Much more information about the process, here.

2. By law, elected officials at the same level must represent the same number of people. For example, each of the 40 State Senators should have roughly 160,000 residents in their district. When the census finds that population has increased or decreased in a particular community or region, it can trigger changes in district lines to help keep the counts within the law. Much more information about the laws surrounding redistricting, here.

3. During the 2010 redistricting process, Massachusetts was found to have lost population and as a result lost a Congressional seat. That is not the case this time around. We’re keeping all of our Congressional seats, which is very good news. See the Congressional districts, here.

4. In Massachusetts, the Legislature is in charge of redistricting through the work of a Joint Committee. This time around, Senator William Brownsberger and Representative Michael Moran are the chairs. Learn more about the committee, here.

5. The Joint Committee on Redistricting is holding a public hearing on May 24 focused on Congressional District 2, which is represented by Congressman Jim McGovern. Congressman McGovern’s district overlaps with 20 of the cities and towns in our State Senate district: Amherst, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Pelham, Royalston, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell, and Whately. (The remaining four Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district towns – Bernardston, Colrain, Leyden, and South Hadley – overlap with Congressman Neal and Congressional District 1. There hasn’t been a hearing yet on CD1.) This is an opportunity to tell the Legislature your thoughts about how district lines should be redrawn. You can sign up to testify or submit written comments. Much more information, here.

6. Our State Senate district has lost population, as have all the other State Senate districts in western Massachusetts. This could mean a fair bit of shifting around by the next state election, which is 2022. You can see our current district, here. And you can map out your own district ideas, here.

7. Want to learn more about the impact of redistricting and how to engage with your community on this important process? The Drawing Democracy Coalition is hosting two training sessions that will help folks learn how to communicate about redistricting, define and map your community of interest, and learn about the Coalition’s goal to create a state-wide unity map that empowers immigrants, people of color, and low-income voters. Sign up for the May 13 training here and the May 19 training here.

What else? Here are four quick updates:

Thank you to everyone who attended our April town hall. Please find the recording, slideshow, and (unedited) transcript here.

In the most recent Dear Jo column, I share a story from my childhood and discuss work to stop the construction of a new women’s prison in the Commonwealth.

I also wrote a response to a misleading Boston Globe editorial on MCAS, here.

Huge thanks to the dozen interns and public health fellows helping to power the work of our State Senate office. This semester’s crew is as brilliant as they are dedicated. Please join me in celebrating (all pictured below):

  • Aharisi Bonner, studying Health Policy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Caroline Horrow, Harvard Law School graduate
  • Himaja Nagireddy, studying environmental health and infectious disease epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Jaxzia Perez, studying politics with a minor in Latinx studies, Mount Holyoke College
  • Kailey Sultaire, studying social work, Simmons University
  • Kelly Palacios, studying political science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Kylee Monkiewicz, studying government and history, St. Lawrence University
  • Lesley Baseman, studying health policy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Michael Holmes, studying history and political science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Russell Simons, studying health policy and medicine, Harvard School of Public Health & University of Chicago School of Medicine
  • Saba Fiazuddin, studying international relations, Mount Holyoke College
  • Sharma Joseph, studying health policy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Out and about

An absolute highlight of the last month has been work to launch the Maternal Health Equity Commission (some members pictured above) which will spend the next year diving deeply into racial inequities in maternal and infant health to make recommendations focused on equity and a transformation of this acute issue. I’m honored to co-chair this important initiative with my Public Health Committee co-chair, Marjorie Decker.

Sending our love to you,

Jo, Sam, Jared, Brian, Elena, and Cameron

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