Month: January 2017


SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser appeared Sunday in a special edition of 22News InFocus exploring current proposals for east-west rail connecting Boston to Springfield. The investigative report by Kait Walsh also examines the history of rail in Massachusetts and some of the reasons progress on the issue has been delayed.

In the program, Lesser notes the regional disparity between transportation investments in the eastern and western parts of the state.

“We should feel outraged that we’ve been left out of this and we’ve been left behind and that we haven’t gotten the same level of attention and investment that all these other cities have gotten,” Lesser said.

Lesser has reintroduced a bill to pass a feasibility study of east-west rail in the Massachusetts State Senate after the same bill passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Charlie Baker last year.

The special edition of 22News InFocus can be watched here:


Senator Lesser Urges President Trump to Invest in High-Speed Rail

Lesser: “Mr. President, prove to the people of Western Massachusetts that you meant what you said on the campaign trail.”

BOSTON — After it was reported that an expansion of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line made President Donald J. Trump’s list of priority infrastructure projects, Senator Eric P. Lesser sent a letter to the White House urging the President to include a high-speed rail line between Springfield and Boston on his list, too.

“Upgrading our existing tracks to accommodate high-speed rail, and building the trains to travel them, would create thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — the very jobs you promised on the campaign trail you would bring back to the United States,” Lesser’s letter reads, in part.

In the letter, Lesser points to the fact that bringing back manufacturing jobs was a core tenet of Trump’s campaign for president, and notes that “Western Massachusetts is a region which has a lot in common with the regions of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin that delivered [Trump’s] victory.”

Lesser’s letter also describes the rich manufacturing history of Western Massachusetts — including the former Milton Bradley plant in East Longmeadow, which Trump visited in 1989.

“He talks about how much of a builder he is. Here’s a great thing to build. Something that would transform not only our state but all of Western New England. It would put to work the very people he claims to speak for,” Lesser said.

Lesser has reintroduced a bill to pass a feasibility study of east-west rail in the Massachusetts State Senate after the same bill passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Charlie Baker last year.

Read Senator Lesser’s below:


Governor Baker Touts Senator Lesser’s Bill in State of the Commonwealth Address

BOSTON — Tonight, Governor Charlie Baker delivered his State of the Commonwealth address and singled out for praise a bill introduced by Sen. Lesser.

“To assist struggling schools, we’ll work with Representative Peisch and Senator Lesser and their colleagues in the House and Senate to create more ‘empowerment zones,’” Gov. Baker said.

“These zones create more flexibility in schools and allow educators to make the changes necessary to provide a better learning environment for our kids. In Springfield, this model is already making a positive difference for teachers and students,” he added.

Lesser’s bill, An Act Relative to Innovation Partnership Zones, empowers school districts to improve school performance by enlisting an independent board of directors and elevating teachers’ voices.

“I look forward to working with Rep. Peisch and the Governor on this to give our students greater opportunities in their education,” Lesser (D-Longmeadow) said. “As the Governor said tonight, school empowerment zones have shown positive results in Springfield. They are just one example of the creative solutions we can find when we work together.”

Nine middle schools in Springfield are currently in an Empowerment Zone Partnership, and have shown progress in their goal to upping students’ scores in math and English.

Lesser’s bill is a companion bill to one introduced in the State House of Representatives by Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley).


Senator Lesser Named Senate Chair of the Gateway Cities Caucus

“The Gateway Cities Caucus is about showing that we all have a common cause, that Springfield is as much a part of the Massachusetts story as Boston is,” Lesser said

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser was appointed Senate Chairman of the Gateway Cities caucus at its first meeting on Jan. 11 and pledged to continue fighting for a fair share of the state budget for Western Massachusetts.

The Gateway Cities legislative caucus was formed in 2008 to advocate for Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities, which include Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke and Pittsfield in Western Massachusetts. Since then, the caucus’ representation has grown from 11 cities to include 26, with 57 House members, just under a third of the total, and 21 Senate members, more than half of the state senate.

Lesser represents two Gateway Cities, Springfield and Chicopee — a unique feature for a member of the caucus.

The chairmanship serves as a new platform for Lesser to advocate for Springfield and Chicopee, and to ensure that cities in Western Massachusetts receive more recognition for their contributions to the state — and a more proportionate share of the state’s budget.

“Families in the western half of the state have the same needs as families in the eastern half of the state: good jobs, good schools for their kids and hope for the future,” Lesser said. “The Gateway Cities Caucus is about showing that we all have a common cause, that Springfield is as much a part of the Massachusetts story as Boston is, that Chicopee has a common cause with New Bedford, with Holyoke, with Lowell.”

The Gateway Cities caucus addresses a wide range of issues affecting urban areas, from education to transportation to infrastructure and economic development.

“The Gateway Cities caucus has a tremendous record of success in bringing economic development projects to cities across Massachusetts. I look forward to working with the caucus to continue that progress,” Lesser said.

House Chairman, Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral, welcomed Lesser’s appointment and joined Lesser in praising the caucus’ work.

“We are excited to have Senator Lesser as the new Senate Chairman of the Massachusetts Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus,” Cabral said. “The Caucus has succeeded in increasing funding for public schools, municipal infrastructure and economic development in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities, through programs like the Transformative Development Initiative and the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund.”

“Senator Lesser understands Gateway Cities and will continue the fight to revitalize these communities, whose success will benefit all of Massachusetts,” Cabral added.

Last year, caucus leaders worked to pass major economic investments in the state budget, including $500 million for the MassWorks grant, which will help finance building projects in the Gateway Cities.

The caucus also advocates for the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), which is designed to enhance local public-private partnerships and funds a TDI fellow in Springfield who works on small business recruitment, retention and development efforts.

“Innovative solutions exist for issues like increasing capital for small businesses and attracting funding for development projects. The Gateway Cities caucus is finding these local solutions and championing them across the state,” Lesser said.


Senator Lesser Applauds Report of Narcan Bulk-Purchasing Success Story, Which Has Saved Over 1,500 Lives

“I hope this program can serve as a model for other states in New England and across the country,” Lesser said

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser welcomed a new report by Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel, which lauded the success of the state’s Narcan bulk purchasing program.

More than 50,000 people in Massachusetts are now trained in administering the overdose-reversing drug, Dr. Bharel told the Public Health Council on Jan. 11.

In January 2015, Lesser filed a bill that served as a blueprint for the Senate’s proposal for Massachusetts to order naloxone, the opiate overdose-reversal drug commonly known as Narcan, at a discounted price through a statewide bulk purchasing program.

The program went into effect in December 2015, after Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office negotiated an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Narcan, to pay $325,000 into the trust fund supporting the program. These funds were added to the $100,000 already allocated to the program by the Massachusetts Legislature in the 2016 state budget.

“Narcan is an indispensable tool in combating the opioid epidemic in our Commonwealth. This bulk purchasing program will allow more of our police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders to administer this drug, and help save lives in the process,” Lesser said at the time.

Since then, the program has done just that — save lives.

“Over 1,500 overdose rescue reports — each a life saved — were received in the first six months of 2016. This is a 21 percent increase from the same time-period in 2015,” said Dr. Bharel. Training in the life-saving treatment accelerated in 2016, after the bulk purchasing plan went into effect.

“The Narcan bulk purchasing program was a perfect example of how legislation can effectively solve a problem and ultimately save lives,” Lesser said. “I am grateful that we were able to have such an impact, and have begun to turn the tide on the opiate epidemic in Massachusetts. I hope this program can serve as a model for other states in New England and across the country.”

The payment from Amphastar Pharmaceuticals was enough to cover the cost of about 10,000 doses of Narcan, the Springfield Republican reported at the time.

Nearly 1,300 people in Massachusetts died of an unintentional opiate-related overdose in 2014, representing a nearly 60 percent increase since 2012. Opioids now kill more people in Massachusetts than car accidents and guns combined.

The number of opioid overdose-related fatalities in Western Massachusetts would be 13 to 14 times higher if not for Narcan’s role, according to Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan.



Senator Lesser Encourages Constituents to Attend the 78th Citizens’ Legislative Seminar

“This is a fantastic opportunity for constituents to learn about how our state government works,” Lesser said

EAST LONGMEADOW — Senator Eric P. Lesser announced today that the 78th Citizens’ Legislative Seminar (CLS) will be held March 21-22 at the Massachusetts State House and encouraged his constituents to apply to participate.

CLS is a semi-annual seminar enabling adults to learn more about state government and the legislative process. Established in 1976 through a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Senate and the University of Massachusetts, the two-day seminar features presentations by Senators and staff on the day-to-day experience of legislators and explains Senate procedures like the role of the Clerk of the Senate.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for constituents to learn about how our state government works. They will get to have my job for a day — as Senators in a simulated session of the State Senate. In the process, constituents will learn how the laws that affect our lives get passed,” Lesser said.

The seminar will walk participants through the process of how bills are introduced, debated and passed. CLS culminates with a simulated legislative hearing and Senate session where participants are invited to participate as “Senators” in the Senate Chamber.

All residents of the First Hampden and Hampshire District are invited to contact Lesser’s District Director Joel McAuliffe via telephone at 413-526-6501 or by email at no later than Friday, Jan. 27, in order to be nominated by Lesser.

“I encourage all the residents in my district to apply to attend this seminar,” Lesser said.


Senator Lesser Sworn in to A Second Term, Announces New Staff in His Statehouse and District Offices

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser was sworn in to a second term on Wednesday in the Massachusetts State Senate chamber.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve, and look forward to a productive 190th session of the Massachusetts General Court,” Senator Lesser said.

“I will continue to work on the issues more important to Western Massachusetts, from creating more high-tech manufacturing jobs to combating substance abuse, and continuing our progress on high-speed rail between Springfield and Boston,” Lesser said.

Before being sworn in, Lesser welcomed to the Statehouse Dean Berry’s AP U.S. history class from SABIS International Charter School in Springfield. The students traveled to Boston to watch Lesser’s swearing-in ceremony and observe the day’s ceremonial activities.

Lesser also welcomed three new staff members to his team and announced two staff changes.

  • Samantha Kelly will serve as Legislative Director. She previously worked as Research Director for the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She has an M.S. in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University and B.A. in Political Science and Anthropology from Columbia University.
  • Joel McAuliffe will serve as District Director and Legislative Aide. He is a graduate of Springfield Technical Community College and Chicopee Comprehensive High School, and served the last three years as the Communications and Special Projects Manager to Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos.
  • Ryan Migeed will serve as Communications Director and Legislative Aide. He is a graduate of Cathedral High School and American University, and previously worked as a digital communications manager and speechwriter for the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct The Record during the 2016 presidential campaign.
  • Michael Clark, who previously served as Senator Lesser’s Chief of Staff, has been promoted to Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Engagement. Clark is a native of Western Mass who is currently serving his second term on the Longmeadow School Committee and earned his B.A. in Political Science from UMass-Amherst.
  • Stephanie Swanson, who served as Senator Lesser’s Legislative Director and Legal Counsel during the previous legislative session, has been promoted to Chief of Staff and General Counsel. She is a graduate of Tufts University and Northeastern University School of Law.


Senator Lesser Cheers Passage of Bill Inspired by Westfield Man that Requires Defibrillators in Schools

“We invest in emergency preparedness for a reason,” Lesser said

BOSTON — Hours before Senator Eric P. Lesser was sworn in to a second term, the state legislature passed a bill requiring schools to have Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on the last day of the 2016 legislative session.

“We invest in emergency preparedness for a reason, so that we are ready when these tools are needed. This is why I am proud that Massachusetts has taken this step to stop these preventable tragedies at our schools. I hope the governor will follow the Senate’s lead and sign this bill into law,” Lesser said.

The law requires every school in the state to have an AED, a device that can shock a person’s heart back to its proper rhythm after someone goes into cardiac arrest. About 20 percent of Massachusetts schools do not currently have AEDs.

The bill was inspired by Kevin Major, who died suddenly from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 2011 while swimming in Congamond Lakes. He was only 19 years old.

Major’s mother, Susan Canning, helped found KEVS Foundation to educate and help prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest in children and young adults. A group of families led by the foundation have been advocating for the bill.

Lesser and his staff met with Canning and KEVS Foundation throughout the legislative session and worked with Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Senator Mark Montigny to get the bill passed.

Lesser called Canning to congratulate her on the bill’s passage and said he hoped Governor Baker would quickly sign it into law.

“This bill speaks to the good that can come out of tragedy when we all come together to prevent future tragedies,” Lesser said.