Month: May 2017

Senator Lesser Announces Multiple Ways to Follow Senate Budget Proceedings

Sen. Lesser unveils Snapchat account, live-blog platform for constituents to follow Senate votes

SPRINGFIELD — As the Senate heads to a vote on the state budget this week, Senator Eric P. Lesser announced an unprecedented number of ways for constituents, reporters and others across the Commonwealth to follow the budget proceedings.

Sen. Lesser’s office will be running a live-blog of Senate votes that will be updated in real time on his Medium account: https://medium.com/@EricLesser.

Sen. Lesser will also be recording live videos on Snapchat via his new account. Users can follow him @EricLesserMA.

And his Facebook and Twitter accounts will be active throughout the budget voting as well: @EricLesserMA on Facebook and @EricLesser on Twitter.

The offices of Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Senate Ways and Means Chair Sen. Karen Spilka will also be releasing news about the budget proceedings in real time via the Twitter accounts @MA_Senate and @KarenSpilka, using the hashtag #SenBudget.

###

What I learned from my father’s service in the National Guard

In Masslive 5/18/17

Back in 2008 I got an interesting phone call from my dad. He was signing up to join the Massachusetts Army National Guard at the age of 56.

My dad had run a family medical practice in Holyoke for many years. One of his patients, who was a veteran himself, told him about the chronic shortage of doctors in the armed services. So he took matters into his own hands and signed up to help.

Less than two years later, he flew out for his first tour of duty: staffing a troop medical clinic at a U.S. base in Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq.

I learned a few things from my father’s service.

First, our men and women in uniform make tremendous sacrifices, and so do their families. My mom was left alone for several months to manage on her own while worrying about her husband’s safety. Thousands of our military families in Massachusetts face much tougher situations.

Second, I learned the essential role the broader civilian community must play in supporting service-members and their families. Our National Guard, in particular, are often called “citizen-soldiers” because they are expected to put their private lives and careers on hold, sometimes on a moment’s notice. And their absence is felt by the community around them.

For my dad, this meant asking other doctors and healthcare providers to cover his patients and keep the practice running while he was overseas.

In Massachusetts, we should be especially proud of the role we played with the nation’s first National Guard, dating back to the first minuteman who fired the shot heard round the world.

I also learned about the many ways we need to improve care for our veterans, and about the unique challenges our men and women in uniform — and their families — face on a daily basis.

These include very real anxieties, from re-entering the civilian workforce to worrying about their families while they are away. There are several items I’m working on in the Massachusetts Senate aimed at addressing these unique needs.

Veterans also come back with a variety of skills that should transfer seamlessly to careers in engineering, vehicle mechanics, police training and others. Unfortunately, many of our state requirements for professional licenses still don’t recognize these skills, sometimes forcing veterans to retake training they already received in the armed services. I filed a bill, “An Act to aid military service members in finding civilian employment,” to correct this.

As the sun sets on the World War II generation, we have a large number of veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and the war on terror who will take their place. They deserve our gratitude and our care, which is why I continue to fight to protect the Holyoke Soldiers Home.

As Memorial Day approaches, each of us has a solemn obligation to honor those who, as Abraham Lincoln said, “have borne the battle.”

That commitment must go beyond mere words. It must be reflected in our actions and, most importantly, in the laws our citizen-soldiers fight to defend.

Sen. Eric P. Lesser is chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies, vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, and leads Millennial Outreach for the State Senate. He represents the First Hampden & Hampshire District in Western Massachusetts.

Senator Lesser Welcomes Charter’s New Low-Cost High-Speed Internet to Chicopee

“Having no internet in the twenty-first century is like having no electricity in the twentieth or no running water in the nineteenth,” Lesser said

CHICOPEE — On Monday, Senator Eric P. Lesser joined Chicopee Mayor Richard J. Kos, the Chicopee Council on Aging and representatives of Charter Communications to celebrate the launch of Charter’s new low-cost, high-speed broadband internet service, Spectrum Internet Assist.

The new service is a low-cost broadband option for eligible families and seniors, bringing high-speed internet to communities in Chicopee who previously did not have access or had lower-speed dial-up internet connections.

At the launch event, hosted at RiverMills Senior Center, Charter Communications also presented a donation of $2,000 to the center for its programming and community events.

“Having no internet in the twenty-first century is like having no electricity in the twentieth or no running water in the nineteenth. I’m glad that Charter Communications is bringing low-cost, high-speed internet to Chicopee, which will improve the quality of life and provide future economic and job opportunities for the city’s citizens,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

“It is an important effort to make affordable internet services available to this part of Charter’s market and in our city,” said Mayor Richard J. Kos.

“Charter is excited to bring a whole new world of digital access and opportunity to hundreds of thousands of low-income families and seniors,” said Tom Rutledge, Chairman and CEO, Charter Communications. “Spectrum Internet Assist is an important next step in providing true high-speed connections to those who would otherwise continue to face digital inequality in this country. It’s important for cable and broadband providers like us to play a role in bridging the digital divide so that everyone has access to the information and tools they need to succeed in today’s economy.”

###

Senator Lesser Calls on Constituents to Apply for the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty Award

Award given to next-of-kin of servicemen and women who were killed in action, died in service or died as a result of injuries sustained in action

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser has invited constituents to apply for the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty award, a military decoration created by the state legislature in 2009. Since its creation, the award has been presented to 145 families of military members who died in service to the United States of America.

According to statute, the Medal of Liberty is awarded to the next-of-kin of servicemen and servicewomen from the Commonwealth who were killed in action or who died in service while in a designated combat area in the line of duty or who died as a result of wounds received in action.

The National Guard is charged with identifying recipients and making recommendations to the Governor for the awarding of the Medal of Liberty.  According to information obtained from the Federal Veterans Administration and the Department of Veterans Services, more than 10,000 Massachusetts citizens have made the ultimate sacrifice in conflicts including WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

“It is not only our men and women in uniform who volunteer to serve, but their families, too. The Medal of Liberty honors their sacrifice for sharing their loved one with us,” said Senator Lesser, who serves on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “Each time my father left for a tour of duty in Iraq, we knew he might not come back. I understand what military families go through as they wait for their loved ones to come back home. This award gives those who have given the ultimate sacrifice some much-deserved recognition for their own service.”

Senator Lesser’s father currently serves as a doctor in the Army National Guard.

To learn more about the Medal of Liberty and to submit an application to the National Guard for review, please visit http://www.thenationsfirst.org/assets/medal-of-liberty-trifold.pdf or contact your local Veterans’ Services Officer.

###

Senator Lesser Moves into New State House Office

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser has changed offices in the State House.

The new office is located in Room 413-C. He was previously in Room 519.

Mail can be addressed to The Office of Senator Eric Lesser, State House Room 413-C, Boston, MA 02133. The office can be reached by telephone at 617-722-1291 or fax at 617-722-1014.

Senator Lesser also has a district office on the second floor of 60 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow, in Suite 11.

The office is managed by Senator Lesser’s District Director Joel McAuliffe, who can be contacted via telephone at 413-526-6501 or by email at Joel.McAuliffe@masenate.gov.

Constituents and town officials are also invited to attend Senator Lesser’s district office hours and express any concerns, ideas and issues they have.

Chicopee

Every first Wednesday

11 a.m. to noon at Chicopee Public Library, 449 Front St, Chicopee, MA 01013

Springfield

Every first Tuesday

1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at Sixteen Acres Library, 1187 Parker St, Springfield, MA 01129

Ludlow

Every second Thursday

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Ludlow Senior Center, 39 Chestnut St, Ludlow, MA 01056

Belchertown

Every first Thursday

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Belchertown Senior Center, 60 State Street, Belchertown, MA 01007

Granby

Every first Thursday

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Granby Senior Center 10 W State St, South Hadley, MA 01075

Hampden

Every fourth Wednesday

11:00 a.m. to noon at Hampden Senior Center, 104 Allen St, Hampden, MA 01036

Wilbraham

Every fourth Wednesday

12:30 to 1:30pm at Wilbraham Senior Center, 45 Post Office Park # 4502, Wilbraham, MA 01095

East Longmeadow

Every third Thursday

11:00 a.m. to noon at East Longmeadow Senior Center, 328 N Main St, East Longmeadow, MA 01028

Longmeadow

Every first Monday

10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Longmeadow Adult Center, 231 Maple Rd, Longmeadow, MA 01106

###

Senator Lesser Congratulates Chicopee Teacher on Winning “Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education” Award

State House Ceremony Honors Teacher of More than 40 Years

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser congratulated Pope Francis High School teacher Robert Brodeur of Chicopee for earning an Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Award from the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Senator Lesser had nominated Brodeur for the award, which recognized both the teacher and his school’s Environmental Science, Oceanography, Earth Science and Aquaculture programs.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton delivered the award to Brodeur and three students from his Oceanography class at a ceremony in the State House Monday.

“I am so proud of Robert Brodeur and Pope Francis High School for earning this award. Not only is it a recognition of their hard work, but of the heart and soul they pour into providing our students a quality education. It is thanks to teachers like Mr. Brodeur that we have such talented, motivated students here in Western Massachusetts who will go on inspire others with their own achievements,” said Senator Lesser, who serves on the Joint Committee on Higher Education.

“Bob Brodeur is a master teacher who has been practicing and honing his teaching skills for more than 40 years. He is very passionate about the subjects he teaches, which is evident to all, especially his students, past and present,” said Dr. Thomas Y. McDowell, Interim Head of School at Pope Francis.

“At Pope Francis High School, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a veteran, dedicated and caring teaching staff. Bob Brodeur proves that on a daily basis. We are honored that he has received this most prestigious environmental award. He is well-deserving,” he added.

Prior to teaching Environmental Science, Oceanography and Earth Science at Pope Francis High School, Brodeur taught science for 40 years at Cathedral High School. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and teacher certification from Westfield University and has done graduate work through Shoals Marine Laboratory in New Hampshire, Cornell University in New York and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Florida.

In fall 2000, Brodeur’s work was recognized with the Teaching Excellence Award sponsored by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, he participated in the Teacher-at-Sea program with scientists from UCONN aboard a NOAA research vessel in an expedition out of Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution to study corals along the New England coast. He is a current member of Massachusetts Marine Educators.

“It was a great honor to receive this award; not only for the recognition, but also for the fact that former and current students remembered and appreciated our discussions about energy, ecosystems and sustainability, our ecological footprint as individuals and societies, and the interrelatedness of all life,” said Brodeur.

“One of my favorite environmental quotes that I share with my students, and which is attributed to Native American folklore, is: ‘We have not inherited the Earth from our ancestors. We have borrowed it from our children.’ It is important that they realize that our individual actions, lifestyles and consumer habits can have a lasting impact on our world,” he added.

 

 

About Pope Francis High School

Pope Francis High School is a four-year, co-educational college preparatory school formed through the merger of Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School. Currently located in the city of Chicopee at the Holyoke Catholic High School on Springfield Street, a new facility is planned for the former location of Cathedral High School on Surrey Road in Springfield. Beginning in 2016, both Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic High School students began attending Pope Francis High School at the Chicopee location. The new school in Springfield is expected to open for the 2018-2019 school year. For more information about Pope Francis High School, visit popefrancishigh.org.

About the Secretary’s Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education

The 2017 Awards are sponsored by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in partnership with the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Members of the Secretary’s Advisory Group on Energy and Environmental Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education lent their expertise to the selection of the award winners. State Senators and Representatives are invited to nominate the schools and teachers they represent for awards every year.

###

/ In Press Release / By Ryan Migeed / Comments Off on Senator Lesser Congratulates Chicopee Teacher on Winning “Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education” Award

Senator Lesser’s Remarks at the Rennie Center on the Condition of Education in Western Massachusetts

“We are rethinking our needs in public education and civics is one of our needs,” said Lesser

HOLYOKE — Today, Senator Eric P. Lesser gave the following remarks at the Rennie Center during the Center’s conference on education in Western Massachusetts, held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The audience included business leaders, education researchers, educators and advocates. Senator Lesser addressed the lack of civics education in Massachusetts and the need to promote civics to make students better citizens.

 

The Missing Piece of a 21st Century Education

Our schools prepare our students for college, for work and for adulthood. But they also have a role in educating the citizen.

I would argue that we’ve been missing a vital component in our students’ education.

That component, I believe, is the ability to debate — to discern what you believe in and use the tools of persuasion to build a path behind you so that others will follow.

Frankly, we are losing in our young people the ability to critically examine information and the desire to use that information as generations before have done: through our democratically elected government.

We are seeing increasing rates of cynicism among young people. Pew Research tells us that Millennials distrust institutions more than any other generation before them did.

We need to teach students to debate with civility. We need to teach students to engage responsibly in a democratically elected government.

We are rethinking our needs in public education and civics is one of our needs.

According to some test results, 45 percent of 12th graders were unable to explain how citizens could change a law.

Last year, in a nationwide poll, only a third of adults could name all three branches of government.

Civics education is no longer required in many states, including right here in Massachusetts. As these studies show, this can have a devastating impact on our system of government and the related lack of trust in institutions.

Civics education is part of the solution to this trust-lessness, this restlessness in a generation that sees mounting problems and missing answers. It is the way to foster trust and foment change at precisely this moment, when our country is more divided than ever and looking for explanations to our society’s most pressing challenges.

Now is the perfect time to be having this conversation, as researchers, educators and advocates come together to rewrite the MCAS for the 21st century.

Now is the perfect time to make our education system dynamic to the needs of every student.

What does it mean to have a high level of education?

I think many of the teachers in this room would agree that it does not just mean parroting back answers, rote memorization, instant intellectual gratification.

I think many of the teachers in this room would agree with me that a high level of education means being able to grapple with tough questions — and being able to cite your sources.

It means being able to tell the difference between “fake news” and fearless reporting — and putting more value on the latter.

Civics is a vital component of this “high level of education.”

A survey of young people published by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, found that young people who recalled memorable civic education experiences were more likely to vote, to form political opinions, to know campaign issues.

Importantly, civics education does not lead to partisanship.

While it made the students more likely to vote, it did not make them more likely to support one party or one candidate over another.

Put simply, civics education makes students better citizens.

A researcher at Tufts coined the term “Civic Deserts” to describe a place with few civic opportunities. Our schools can be the oasis for teaching those important elements of civic engagement.

But right now, our entire education system is a civic desert as long as civics is not seen as a priority of our students’ education.

School was never meant just to prepare students for careers; it was also meant to teach — to turn students into life-long learners.

What use is an education at all if our students cannot use it to make the world a better place? To strive, to change, to challenge? To use their talents to the fullest? This, after all, is what I would call a “high level of education.”

###

Senator Lesser Lauds Passage of Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

BOSTON — Following the Massachusetts House of Representatives vote to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, State Senator Eric P. Lesser issued the following statement:

“Today is a proud day for Massachusetts and for our representatives who have been advocates of common-sense policy to protect the jobs of pregnant workers who show up to do their work. The last thing we should do is penalize women who are trying to both raise a healthy family and get to work to support that family.

“Pregnant workers should be able to request reasonable accommodations, such as a stool to sit on or time off for a medical appointment, without fear of losing their jobs. That’s why I cosponsored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and why I will work to make sure it becomes law in Massachusetts. Thirteen states have already passed these workplace protections for pregnant workers, and there is no reason Massachusetts should be behind on this issue.

“I am grateful for my colleague Sen. Joan Lovely, who introduced the Senate version of this bill, for her work on this issue over many years. And I congratulate former Representative Ellen Story, who was a long-time champion of this important issue in her time in the Massachusetts House. They share this accomplishment with countless advocates, including the great team at MotherWoman in Hadley. I look forward to doing my part to pass this in the Senate and send it to the Governor’s desk for his signature.”

###

Senator Lesser to Hold “Thrive after 55 Wellness Fair” to Connect Seniors with Local Resources

More than 30 local organizations are participating, with more expected to join

Organized in partnership with Western New England University, Health New England, 22News, The Republican and PRIME Magazine

 

EVENT DETAILS

WHAT: Senator Lesser’s First-Annual “Thrive After 55 Wellness Fair”
WHERE: Rivers Auditorium, Western New England University, 1215 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield, MA 01119
WHEN: Friday, June 9, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

SPRINGFIELD — Today Senator Eric P. Lesser announced plans to hold a first-annual wellness fair on June 9 to connect older adults with local organizations and information to help them plan for, and thrive, after retirement.

The fair includes a boxed lunch for each attendee, door prizes and a raffle.

Residents wishing to attend and vendors wishing to participate are encouraged to RSVP at www.SenatorLesser.com/thrive or by calling Jennifer Metsch in Senator Lesser’s district office at 413-526-6501.

More than 30 local organizations, from dieticians to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, have lined up to showcase information booths about the resources they offer. PRIME Magazine, 22News and The Republican are partnering as the fair’s media sponsors.

The Office of Elder Affairs and their community partners, WestMass ElderCare and Greater Springfield Senior Services, will represent more than six state agencies which offer services from emergency preparedness to assistive technologies to help people live independently in their homes.
There will also be organizations present to speak specifically to veterans’ issues.

“Our Thrive After 55 Senior Fair will be a fun, informative way to get connected with the wonderful local businesses, non-profits and government services available to our region’s seniors. From health and wellness to transportation, from insurance to veterans programs, this fair will be an unparalleled resource for our community — and a great time, as well! A special thank you also to Western New England University, Health New England, 22News, The Republican and PRIME Magazine for their partnership,” said Senator Lesser, who serves on Joint Committee on Elder Affairs.

The fair is sponsored by Health New England, which will be handing out booklets about applying for Medicare and will have representatives available to answer questions. Health insurance counselors from Serving Health Information Needs for Everyone will also be on hand to answer Medicaid and private insurance questions.

Currently, the following organizations plan to participate, with more expected to confirm in the coming weeks:

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Baystate Dental
  • Baystate Health Senior Class
  • Big Y Dietician and Pharmacy
  • Columbia Gas
  • Eastfield Mall
  • Executive Office of Elder Affairs
  • Forastiere Funeral Services
  • Goodwill Industries
  • Greater Springfield Senior Services
  • Hampden County Registry of Deeds
  • Hampden Hearing Center
  • Health New England
  • Healthcare News
  • Holyoke Soldiers Home
  • Home Helpers
  • Jewish Community Center
  • Jewish Geriatric Services
  • Landmark Monastery
  • Life Care of Wilbraham
  • Longmeadow Fire Department
  • Louis & Clark Pharmacy; Medical Equipment and Supply
  • Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
  • Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services
  • Massachusetts Senior Action Council
  • MassDOT/Registry of Motor Vehicles/EZPass
  • Mercy Hearing Center
  • Mercy Home Health Care
  • Office of Consumer Affairs
  • Office of the Secretary of State
  • Prime/Reminder
  • The Republican
  • Rick’s Place, Inc.
  • Scantic Valley YMCA
  • SHINE/ MOD Emergency Preparedness
  • Springfield National Armory
  • The Arbors at Chicopee
  • Visiting Angels
  • WestMass ElderCare
  • YWCA

###

 

Senator Lesser Congratulates Springfield’s Tech Foundry on Receiving Workforce Development Award

“Tech Foundry has established itself as a respected and trusted partner for local businesses who can rely on the training it provides,” Lesser said

Springfield — Senator Eric P. Lesser congratulated Tech Foundry, an employer initiative in Springfield to train students for careers in information technology (IT), for receiving a 2017 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award on Friday.

“Tech Foundry has established itself as a respected and trusted partner for local businesses who can rely on the training it provides. I am proud that a Springfield business has received this much-deserved recognition, and that the city continues to attract this level of serious investment because of the talent and skills we have here,” said Lesser, Chairman of the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee.

Tech Foundry, founded in 2013, has trained more than 100 people ranging from high school students to older workers — many from underserved and at-risk populations — to meet the accelerating demand for qualified IT workers in Western Massachusetts.

The Gould Award was presented to Tech Foundry by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts in Boston. The award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability and productivity of Massachusetts residents.

###