In The People's Blog

Greetings from your State House,

Transitions. Everywhere. And uncertainty.

We’re in the grips of a massively high-stakes election cycle. Amid an ongoing pandemic and economic crisis — rife with inequity — that’s affecting our main streets, campuses, and nonprofits. Essential workers. Elders. Students. Families.

School has begun for our children and our teachers and no matter how it’s manifesting, there are complications. Upheavals. We’re all called to meet these challenges with grit and grace. In August, I wrote a love letter to education, here, and you can count on me to prioritize bridging the systemic digital, rural, and economic divides that continue to burden our people. Shout out to all the students, educators, and caregivers as you begin this unprecedented year of learning and teaching.

I don’t just think about all this. I feel it as a mom. A wife. A daughter. A sister. And your state senator.

My team feels this as well. And that’s why we’re laser focused on ensuring that our district is front-burnered, getting our fair share, and well-positioned for a recovery on all fronts.

And before we go any further, Shana Tova to everyone celebrating the Jewish New Year. May the coming year bring us the strength to answer the call for justice in the world.

Let’s break it down by the numbers:

6: That’s the number of significant bills or conference committee reports that I expect to be voting on in the next month or so, as the Legislature reconvenes to tackle issues like climate change, health care, transportation, and economic development.

1: Legislators must cast one vote on this fiscal year’s budget and you can count on me to advocate for district priorities (plus votes on dozens and dozens of amendments).

Read here to learn how we’re roaring into the fall.

125: Remember, we work for you. Since August 1, we’ve carried more than 125 constituent and municipal cases. Please email jo.comerford@masenate.gov if you need assistance. Our team goes the distance (literally) throughout COVID traveling the district to transport paperwork, deliver hard copies of information to explain them in person, breaking down barriers to access. Demanding that state government work for our people.

33: Through the dog days of August and into September my team and I wrote 33 letters and testimonials to state agencies, conference committees, the Governor, and others, in support of funding for local organizations, municipalities, a strong climate bill, rapid COVID testing, a major rail transportation investment, and much more. In doing this, our team channeled constituents like you who urge us to be bold, sharp, and strategic. These were all the first forays into much larger pieces of work.

Some of the work is a slow burn. For example, the sale of Pan Am Railways was just announced and won’t be completed for years. But there’s no time to waste, so I joined with regional legislators to indicate clearly what we want the state to do to help bolster Route 2 Rail.

Other issues come full circle more quickly. In April, the Senate COVID-19 working group that I chair met repeatedly with Senate leadership to raise the alarm about rising food insecurity. This led to my appointment to the state’s food security task force. Now our team’s days are filled writing letters of support for our district’s tenacious non-profits and farms that are rising to meet this challenge by applying for Food Security Infrastructure grants — which I fought for while on the task force — to expand their operations.

All of these letters and statements are on our website, here.

115: 115 constituents emailed and called to voice concerns around job cuts at UMass Amherst. Rep. Mindy Domb and I collaborated to let everyone know what we’re doing to advocate on their behalf. You can read a joint statement here.

10: There’s no way we could scale our efforts without interns. This summer we were very fortunate to be joined remotely by 10 rockstar humans who spent countless hours over their summers serving our district. Learn more here. Stay tuned for updates about our fall semester interns.

$18,000,000,000: That’s the amount of money Harvard Professor William Hsiao, a world-leading single payer health care expert, estimated as savings we could reap in Massachusetts if we moved to a universal Medicare-for-All health care system. Savings would come from less paperwork, less fraud, and lower costs for drugs and other services. Not only that, our people would be healthier as well. Professor Hsiao joined Olivia Sonderman, MPH and Sameen Ansari, MPH — both of whom served as Public Health Fellows in my office — on a really remarkable virtual panel I hosted to discuss Medicare for All: Public Health Implications and Steps Forward.

107: Days until the start of the 192nd General Court. My team and I are working non-stop to prepare legislation for this next session.

5: The number of dedicated staff who join me every day in this work. Though our numbers are small, we are powered forward by the most tenacious constituents in the Commonwealth.

Out and about

I joined Rep. Whipps and officials from MassDOT, Erving, and Gill on a site visit to the French King Bridge to help fast track work on suicide barriers.

I traveled to Boston to ensure that the Senate adjourned in memory of the life and work of Dr. Frederick Tillis. You can see my remarks, here.

And I joined Rep. Mindy Domb in Amherst to celebrate Dr. Carlie Tartikov as a Commonwealth Heroine.

District Director Elena Cohen celebrated the strong coalition of advocates and legislators who worked for years to pass the Breakfast After the Bell legislation.

I tagged Monarch butterflies during an incredible Hitchcock Center program in Amherst.

I Zoomed with members of the Loomis Retirement Community and Hadley Council on Aging to discuss public health, climate change, the economy, and more.

I joined Rep. Natalie Blais in speaking with Massachusetts Department of Agriculture officials about the onset of the first in-depth study of Glyphosate in decades. Thank you to ALL the constituents who have demanded that I engage in this work. I hear you. I hope you see the fruits of your efforts in this forward momentum.

And our team is as strong as all of you combined.

Sending our love to you as we roar into the fall.

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

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