Greetings from your State House,
As fall rushes in, I’m reminded of the unparalleled beauty of our district. This email is event-packed, including information on a day-long paddle down the Connecticut River on October 19 that I’m helping to organize with state officials and environmental leaders to raise awareness and spread love for our river valley.
But first, let’s talk policy.
More and more, I’ve heard from constituents with pressing questions about what’s needed to allow for a return to some sense of normalcy. In the latest Dear Jo, I began to answer that most important question: What’s it going to take?
We simply can’t move forward without strong and steady local public health systems. That’s why I joined with House colleagues, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, and local health officials from throughout the Commonwealth to file new legislation to support our local public health system. You can watch an informative campaign kickoff here, and read a fact sheet on the bill here.
I’m also very concerned about the eviction crisis we’re facing as we approach October 17 and the end of the state’s current eviction and foreclosure moratorium. I’m supporting legislation to extend the moratorium and protect tenants and landlords. I wrote a letter to constituents with my thoughts about what should happen. Read it here.
And funding for our schools is also on the line. Read about how we need to get nerdy for our schools and submit a public comment before tomorrow’s deadline, here.
On Saturday, October 17
From noon to 2 p.m., Monte Belmonte will go live at Mike’s Corn Maze in Sunderland via The River and WHMP with Suffrage Succotash, an event to celebrate voting and the heroes of the 2020 voting cycle: city and town clerks and postal workers. This year’s maze theme is Vote 2020: The stalks have never been higher. The a-mazing Mike’s Maze team is inviting the public to exercise their cornstitutional right and I’ll join Congressman Jim McGovern and Rep. Natalie Blais to talk about the importance of voting and voting protections. The kernel of truth is: Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy. It’s a super power. (And very special shout out to Mike’s Maze for the high stalks pun and this year’s exceptional maze. Reminder: Reservations are needed this year!)
On Sunday, October 18
At 2 p.m., I’ll join an incredible line up of Indigenous leaders on an interfaith program titled 400 Years: Truth & Healing for the Next Seven Generations focused on Indigenous history, rights, culture, and pending legislation. Please join if you can.
On Monday, October 19
Starting at 8:00 a.m. and lasting all day, I’ll be paddling on the majestic Connecticut River with All Out Adventures and an All Star line up of river advocates as part of an event titled, A Tribute(ary) to the Connecticut River.
The goal of this first annual event, complete with the hashtag #WeLoveOurRiver, is to raise public awareness about and love for the Connecticut River’s importance to the environment, farms, the economy, and culture, as well as its significance to indigenous communities.
This event will be an opportunity to gather and galvanize a broad range of important stakeholders who are dedicated to the River’s short and long-term well-being.
We’ll start in Northfield and end in Northampton, going live, posting pictures, and adding videos all day long. RSVP to this event to see who’s paddling and get updates. Big love for All Out Adventures, my partner in this work.
On Friday, October 23
From noon to 1 p.m., I’ll host Kara McElhone and Kayla Smith, expert child advocates with Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County, in a Facebook live, titled Keeping Our Kids Safe Online, focused on preventing and healing from sexual exploitation. Please be sure to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your questions.
Out and about
I joined Congressman Jim McGovern in Northampton to speak with restaurant owners about their experiences and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I toured three district dairy farms with Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Commissioner Lebeaux and Deputy Commissioner Randle. Thanks to the families at Bree-Z-Knoll Farm (Our Family Farms) in Leyden, DAR-Ridge Farm in Colrain, and Sunbrite Farm in Bernardston for hosting us.
I partnered with the Connecticut River Conservancy, Florence neighbors, and JFK students to host a Source to Sea Clean Up on the Mill River.
Sending our love to you.
Jo, Elena, Cameron, Brian, Sam, and Jared
P.S. As a Supreme Court battle rages at the federal level, regional colleagues and I joined together on a letter to encourage Governor Baker to nominate a western Massachusetts resident to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which has two openings and no western Mass representation.
P.P.S. Cheers to CISA for making a tremendously moving video tribute to our region’s farmers. I was truly honored to make an appearance.
And P.P.P.S. Before we embark on A Tribute(ary) to the Connecticut River on Monday, October 19, test your knowledge and learn about the extraordinary Connecticut River.
Take the quiz below to be entered into a raffle to win local gift cards from Northampton and Amherst! Just click here.