In Op-Eds & Columns, Updates from Jo

On Jan. 18, I introduced “Progress for All,” an ambitious package of legislation to maximize opportunities and address a wide swath of critical concerns in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district.

These pieces of legislation are rooted deeply in our district’s 24 cities and towns, meaning that the spark or demand for this legislation came from folks like you. There are a lot of big ideas in my bills because my approach was not to temper our expectations, but rather to put forward legislation that reflects our deepest values and critical needs—and then join with my team, advocates, and you, my constituent, to move these forward.

I firmly believe that healthy democracy has an informed and engaged electorate at its core. That tenet demands that I not only focus on filing legislation, but also on explaining to constituents the origin of these ideas and what they would do if they passed, which will happen, in part, through this column as I we field more questions.

Here are some of what I heard while I was campaigning last summer and then throughout the fall:

We must reverse the decline in funding in our education system, pre-K through higher education and seize the promise of the emergent Green New Deal movement, which sees fighting climate change, creating good jobs, and environmental justice as one and the same in the name of fulfilling our obligation to future generations to stop the sources of runaway global warming. We have to expand access to affordable, quality health care for everyone and advance economic justice and equity by promoting sustainable jobs, public transportation, affordable housing, and making our tax system fair for people with low incomes. It’s critical that we protect and expand local sustainable agriculture and our food system.

And, at the same time, we must address racial and ethnic discrimination and disparities and guarantee full equity based on gender and gender identity and strengthen our democracy by ensuring taxpayer funds cannot be used to pay sexual assault settlements or fines, and making sure our Commonwealth does its part to address the issues that threaten our society, like Super PACs.

This brings me to co-sponsorship, which is another place (in addition to filing legislation) that I can support the above ideals and mandates. And it’s also a place where constituents have a great deal of influence.

I am excited to sign on to many of my colleague’s bills such as Medicare for All, the Safe Communities Act, the PROMISE Act to fully fund K-12 education, improving the accuracy of eyewitness identification, and Carbon Pricing. I’m happy to tell you that many constituents have already reached out and I’ve learned a great deal from you about topics as diverse as protecting pollinators and curbing workplace bullying. Your voices matter a great deal in this process.

My bills are now with the Senate Clerk. In February and March, all submitted bills will be sorted by topic, assigned to one of the joint House-Senate subject matter committees, and given their official Senate bill number. Later in the spring and into the fall, each bill will get a formal public hearing before the committee with jurisdiction. That’s another place we’ll look to a deep partnership with constituents as I help channel and amplify your voices.

I filed 48 bills and you can expect me to co-sponsor about 200 additional bills. Over the rest of the legislative session, it will be my honor to work with my team, constituents, colleagues, and advocates to move our bills and the ones that I will co-sponsor towards the Governor’s desk.

There is so much more to say but I’m out of space! That’s why I’ll be launching a new website in March loaded with resources for constituents so you can better understand and track our bills. And, in February and March, our team will host virtual town hall briefings to answer questions about our bills, our co-sponsored bill, and the work entailed in moving them forward.

Onward together.

Read this article at The Greenfield Recorder

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