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

Just to be the legislator who drove 1,000 miles to represent you. 

Last week, I traveled about 1,020 miles all across the Commonwealth to attend important events and advocate on behalf of the issues that matter most to you. (Before we go any further, I want you to know that I do look at where I can do virtual meetings to save having to drive, for environmental reasons. This blog doesn’t contain a record of those meeting, just the driving because it was a driving-heavy week.) 

On Monday, I traveled 126 each way from Northampton to UMass Dartmouth for the third of seven Joint Ways and Means hearings being held this spring on Governor Healey’s proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

This hearing focused on transportation as well as energy and the environment. 

On Tuesday, I drove about 105 miles each direction from Northampton out to the Arlington Town Hall for the fourth Joint Ways and Means hearing which focused on Health and Human Services. We heard from representatives of MassHealth, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Children and Families, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and more.

Moving on to Wednesday, I trekked from Northampton to the State House in Boston, which clocked in at about 104 miles, to join my team for a busy and important advocacy day. Constituent Services Director Rachel Klein met with advocates from the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, who shared their passionate advocacy and calls to action. 

Legislative Director Brian Rosman and Legal Fellow Madeleine Minke met with representatives from the American College of Physicians to discuss workforce development and how we can better support individuals pursuing primary care careers. 

Along with Brian, Rachel, and Madeline, I had the privilege of meeting with advocates from the Center for New Americans, who traveled to Boston from our region.

A top priority for our team is passing An Act expanding access to the certified nurses’ aides certification process (S.1336), which was inspired by one of the advocates who joined us.

Also on Wednesday, Director of Communications & Engagement Katelyn Billings met with representatives from Moms Demand Action to discuss gun control legislation. In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Tennessee, Katelyn and the advocates from western Massachusetts discussed ways that we can increase gun safety in Massachusetts. I also stepped out of a hearing to meet these constituents and share my support. 

I spent the rest of my afternoon listening to the testimony of Secretary Yvonne Hao of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. I was so thoroughly energized by her passion and her vision for the Commonwealth, as she discussed Governor Healey’s economic development priorities. 

After a busy day in the State House, I took off to Wendell to attend its Selectboard meeting before heading back to Northampton, a 122 mile trip home. 

On Thursday, I was back in the State House for another jam-packed day. I started my day off by speaking at the launch of the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition hosted by MassCAP. I shared about a bill I filed to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to better support low- and middle-income families (S.1768). 

I also spoke during Senate session in support of $350 million in funding for transportation needs across the state, including $200 million for the state’s Chapter 90 program, which provides our cities and towns with a reliable funding source for transportation-related improvements, including road and bridge repairs. I advocated for and was pleased that the Senate’s bill included $25 million dedicated to communities with low population density. 

To hear my remarks in full, click here

After the Senate session adjourned, I headed back to Northampton rounding Thursday out at 208 miles. 

On Friday, I drove 138 miles each way to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where I attended the fifth Joint Ways & Means Committee hearing on economic development, housing, and labor.

Saturday was a poignant end to an incredibly busy week. First up, I traveled to the Delaney House in Holyoke for a rural conference organized by regional planning agencies, local leaders, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association. At the event, I had the chance to share, along with Representative Natalie Blais, our rural policy legislative agenda for this session. We also had the opportunity to hear from Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. 

From there, I headed on over to the Five Eyed Fox in Turners Falls for a legislative coffee event. That 35 mile trip brings us close to our total. 

After the coffee chat, I traveled 17 miles to Empty Bowls over in Amherst where I volunteered to support the Amherst Survival Center’s vital work.

And then home. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve you and advocate on your behalf, across those 1,000+ miles. 


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