Month: March 2018

Senator Lesser Receives “Legislative Leadership Award”

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser was honored on Monday by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston with one of two “Legislative Leadership Awards.”

The JCRC traditionally honors one Senator and one Representative with “Legislative Leadership Awards” each year. House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sanchez of Boston was recognized along with Sen. Lesser.

Attorney General Maura Healey was also honored with an “Excellence in Leadership Award,” and Lon Povitch, Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Charlie Baker, received an “Executive Leadership Award.”

“We are honored to be presenting an award to a remarkable public servant—Senator Eric Lesser. He has demonstrated we must unite in our commitment to act on an urgent agenda; from civil rights to human services, economic opportunity supporting the vibrant MA-Israel partnership, and the protection of democratic values,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “A well-functioning society and a responsive government would not be possible without outstanding public servants like him.”

“It is humbling to receive this award, and I am grateful to my colleagues, Attorney General Healey, Chairman Sanchez and Lon Povich for their service. I am also grateful to the Western Mass Jewish community, which has built a number of organizations that serve the common good,  from Rachel’s Table, which feeds thousands of hungry people across Western Mass, to the Springfield JCC, where my daughters go to preschool,” said Sen. Lesser. “What makes JCRC so unique is that it works to make Massachusetts a better place, not only for Jewish people but for all people. Its agenda is a universal agenda of justice and peace, and I look forward to continuing our work together toward these goals in our communities.”

Sen. Lesser was introduced by Ronda Parish, President of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts.

The awards recognize the leadership of public officials in areas that reflect JCRC’s legislative priorities, including promoting and protecting democratic norms, defending civil rights and championing economic opportunity and consumer protection.

The awards were presented at JCRC’s annual Legislative Reception held at the State House.


Senator Lesser Votes to Pass Bill Protecting Puppies and Kittens

BOSTON — On Thursday the State Senate voted to pass a bill improving conditions in the sale of dogs and cats, and ensuring that puppies and kittens are bred and sold in safe and healthy environments.

The bill, S.1155, An Act relative to protecting puppies and kittens, applies safety and breeding standards to protect pets and pet owners. It prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens younger than eight weeks old, increasing the likelihood that they will grow to be healthy dogs and cats, and outlines a process for a veterinarian to declare an animal suffering from a significant adverse health condition “unfit for sale.”

“We all love our pets, and no one should bring home a brand-new puppy or kitten only to find out that they are chronically ill. It’s not fair to the pet owner but it is also unfair to the pet that was raised in unhealthy conditions,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser. “This bill, written in coordination with animal advocates, breeders and pet stores, will keep our pets safer and healthier and protect consumers.”

The bill also strengthens the state’s “Puppy Lemon Law” to give pet owners more options if they unknowingly purchase a sick pet. Remedies available now include the exchange of the animal or a refund and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees. The bill also sets forth a procedure for a seller to contest these demands.

“As an animal lover, pet owner and occasional small scale breeder, I am deeply aware of the emotional challenges for families when a pet falls ill, as well as the need to protect the health and safety of young animals,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), lead sponsor of the bill. “This bill is the result of extensive discussion with both breeders and animal rights activists to protect puppies, kittens and pet owners across the Commonwealth.”


Senator Lesser, Sheriff Cocchi and Mayor Kos Read to Fairview Elementary Students for “Celebrity Read Aloud”

CHICOPEE — Senator Eric P. Lesser, Sheriff Nick Cocchi and Mayor Richard Kos all read to different classrooms at Fairview Elementary School in Chicopee as part of Link to Libraries’ annual “Celebrity Read Aloud” day.

Sen. Lesser read “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm to Miss Picard’s third grade class.

Sen. Lesser read “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm.


Senator Lesser Votes to Pass Social Media Privacy Protections

BOSTON — On Thursday the State Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill protecting the personal social media accounts of students and employees.

The bill, S. 2320, An Act relative to social media privacy protection, prevents employers and schools from requesting and requiring access to the personal social media accounts of applicants, employees, and students as a condition of acceptance, employment or participation in school activities.

“Technology has changed how we communicate, but those communications should still have the protections of privacy. Through privacy settings, social media users can decide who to share their thoughts, photos and conversations with, which is essentially no different than a private phone call. No school or employer should be allowed to cross that barrier between people’s public and private lives as a threshold for inclusion in school events or as a basis for employment,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser, who is a member of the Special Senate Committee on Cyber Security Readiness.

Sen. Lesser co-sponsored the bill, which includes exceptions for legal inquiries requiring access to social media accounts. Under current law, these inquiries would still be required to follow due process.

“I am proud to have bipartisan support among my Senate colleagues to increase online privacy protections for students and employees across the Commonwealth,” said Senate Majority Leader Creem (D-Newton), who sponsored the bill. “We would never allow employers or schools to read our diaries or journals, open our mail or rifle through our personal photo albums. The private communications and information we store online in our personal social media accounts deserve the same legal protections.”

More than 25 states have already enacted legislation addressing this issue, and bills on this topic are pending in many other jurisdictions. This is the third session in which the Senate has voted favorably on this bill.

The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives for consideration.


Senator Lesser on Student Walkouts: “I Hear Them, and I Hope the Rest of Our Country’s Leaders Hear Them.”

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser offered his support to high school students across Massachusetts — and the country — who staged school walkouts on Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and demand action on gun violence.

“We stand in solidarity with today’s students. I hear them, and I hope the rest of our country’s leaders hear them as well. The time for action to protect our schools and our children from gun violence is long overdue, and these young people are leading the charge to make sure we take that action. There’s never been a great change or social movement in our society that hasn’t been led by young people. From Parkland to Springfield, young people are standing up to make a difference in their community — and their impact is being felt around the country,” said Sen. Lesser.

The peaceful walkouts were planned by students in coordination with school administration officials.


Senator Lesser, New Senate Chair of Library Caucus, Advocates for Library Funding at State House

BOSTON —  Speaking before hundreds of librarians from across the state on Tuesday, Senator Eric P. Lesser advocated for increased funding for public libraries and told them “you are at the front lines of expanding that circle of opportunity and equity for all of our Commonwealth’s residents.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Lesser was named Senate Chair of the Legislative Library Caucus, a group of legislators who make library funding a specific concern and priority.

Among the public libraries’ priorities are increased funding for technology upgrades to bring high-speed internet access to all public libraries.

Nearly 30,000 people in Massachusetts rely on public libraries for internet access. Many communities in Western Massachusetts in particular still lack access to broadband internet.

“We know that free and open access to information is the great equalizer in our society. No matter what station you come from, no matter what family you’re born into, no matter what your circumstances are in life, if you have the same access to information as everybody else, then all of a sudden the playing field starts to get just a little more level,” said Sen. Lesser.

“In an era of overflowing and unlimited information, the role that each of you play as librarians, as custodians of that information and as a trusted access point for people to information is more important than ever before,” he added.


Senator Lesser Visits Blueberry Hill Elementary School for “Read Across America Day”

LONGMEADOW — Senator Eric P. Lesser read to students at Blueberry Hill Elementary School in Longmeadow on Friday as part of “Read Across America Day,” a national initiative to encourage reading to children.

Held on March 2, the day also recognizes the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Senator Lesser read “What Do You Do with an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada.

“The story of how a small idea can grow to change the world is a great sentiment for these young people. They can change the world, too!” Senator Lesser said.