Category: Press Release

Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass Bills Helping Students With Dyslexia and Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Wednesday and Thursday to pass bills supporting those affected by dyslexia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The first bill, S. 2243 An Act relative to students with dyslexia, requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the Department of Early Education and Care, to issue guidelines on developing screening protocols for students who have at least one indicator for dyslexia or another neurological learning disability.

“This bill levels the playing field for students who want to learn and simply don’t understand why they’re having trouble keeping up,” said Sen. Lesser. “By providing clearer guidance on how to screen children for dyslexia and other learning disabilities, we can shed light on how these students learn and what kinds of support they need to reach their full potential.”

“I first filed this bill after meeting Ethan, a young boy in my district who has dyslexia and his family. I quickly learned that our current laws and education system do not adequately serve our students with dyslexia,” said Sen. L’Italien (D-Andover), who filed the bill. “Most families in the stories I read today have spent countless hours, thousands of dollars, and many sleepless nights trying to get their kids the education that every child deserves. The Massachusetts Senate took a big first step today toward finally supporting thousands of students who just want to be able to learn alongside their peers, enjoy school, and go on to find success in life. Education is the greatest equalizer, and that starts with learning to read.”

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

The second bill, H. 4116 An Act relative to Alzheimer’s and related dementias in the Commonwealth, also sponsored by Sen. L’Italien and co-sponsored by Sen. Lesser, establishes a state advisory council on Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment.

It also requires all designated agencies of the Department of Elder Affairs to provide training to caseworkers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s. In addition, it requires that physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers complete a continuing education course on diagnosis and treatment of patients with cognitive impairments including Alzheimer’s.

“Everyone knows someone, or has someone in their own family, struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia. I saw the toll these impairments take on families due to my own grandfather and grandmother, who both suffered from dementia. But even though these impairments are common, recognizing their symptoms and treating them is unfortunately not common knowledge. This bill aims to close that gap to provide greater support and care to these members of our families and communities,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill, having passed the House of Representatives, now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

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Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass the “CARE Act,” Introducing New Tools to Combat the Opioid Epidemic and Treat Substance Abuse

Bill Expands Access to Narcan and Includes Commission Proposed by Sen. Lesser to Strengthen Consumer Protection Laws against Opioid Manufacturers

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Thursday to pass the “CARE Act,” an omnibus bill that establishes a range of new policies to combat the opioid epidemic and ensure equal access to care for those struggling to overcome addiction.

The bill also establishes a commission, proposed by Sen. Lesser, that would seek to strengthen the state’s consumer protection laws and potentially empower legal action against opioid manufacturers.

“Too many families have lost a loved one to this scourge of opioid addiction that does not discriminate in the lives it takes. There is no shortage of evidence that drug companies knew the drugs they pushed were dangerous and highly addictive, and it’s high time that we hold them accountable,” said Sen. Lesser.

“I hope that, as we continue to fight this epidemic, we will pay particular attention to the communities that are seeing unusually high addiction and overdose rates, such as our Latino communities and other historically underserved groups. We need to ensure that everyone has equal access to care and recovery treatment,” he added.

The bill, S. 2609 An Act for prevention and access to appropriate care and treatment of addiction, includes a number of innovative solutions to steer patients away from opioids and improve treatment of opioid addiction, such as:

  • ensuring health insurance coverage for a broad range of pain management services, including alternatives to opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain;
  • increasing access to the overdose-reversal drug Narcan by allowing pharmacies to dispense doses over-the-counter; and
  • recommending standards for a professional credential for recovery coaches.

The bill also establishes a human service workers student loan repayment program, originally filed by Sen. Lesser as an amendment to the budget. The program supports many of the workers who are serving those grappling with opioid addiction and recovering from it.

“Despite efforts to suppress the opioid crisis, families across the Commonwealth continue to lose their loved ones to substance use disorder,” said Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, who was the lead sponsor of the bill. “This legislation builds upon the work the state has done around opioid misuse and prevention and provides another set of tools to reduce harm, save lives, and increase access to evidence-based treatment. We have a major epidemic on our hands and we have to use everything at our disposal to cure this disease.”

Sen. Lesser has been a leader in fighting the opioid epidemic. Most recently, he sponsored an amendment to the Senate’s healthcare reform package that included funding for research into medication-assisted treatment and alternatives to pain management such as acupuncture. In January 2015, Sen. Lesser filed a bill that served as a blueprint for the Massachusetts bulk purchasing program for Narcan.

The bill will now be negotiated with a version passed by the House of Representatives before going to the Governor for his signature.

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Sen. Lesser Votes to Create A “Kelley Blue Book for the Internet” in Defense of Net Neutrality and Internet Privacy

“Protecting a free and open Internet will be one of the most important policy decisions we make,” said Sen. Lesser

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Thursday to pass a bill defending Net Neutrality provisions by holding Internet service providers accountable for the service they provide.

The measure is a response to actions by the Trump Administration’s Federal Communications Commission, which rolled back federal guidelines put in place by the Obama Administration to guarantee that Internet service providers could not change customers’ Internet speeds based on their subscription package or other factors.

The bill, S. 2610 An Act promoting net neutrality and consumer protection, creates a registry of Internet service providers and requires the Department of Telecommunications and Cable to grade them based on their service quality and consumer privacy practices. It also requires Internet service providers to make annual disclosures about their network management practices, privacy policies and other measures.

“When history looks back, protecting a free and open Internet will be one of the most important policy decisions we make,” said Sen. Lesser. “This bill creates a ‘Kelley Blue Book’ for the Internet that will grade Internet service providers and allow consumers to hold them accountable for any moves to slow down service by throttling or blocking access to certain sites.”

Sen. Lesser served on the Senate’s Special Committee on Net Neutrality and helped author the legislation with its primary sponsor, Sen. Cindy Creem.

Under the bill, the Department of Telecommunications and Cable will create a “Massachusetts Net Neutrality and Consumer Privacy Seal” that allows Internet service providers to demonstrate that they uphold net neutrality commitments, including equal and open Internet access to customers and an opt-out option for customers to control third-party access to their information.

States are severely restricted by the federal government on the extent to which they can regulate the Internet. This bill, if passed by the House and signed by the Governor, would implement some of the strongest Internet consumer protections in the country.

To guarantee Net Neutrality nationwide, the U.S. Congress must enshrine it in federal law.

The bill, which passed the State Senate unanimously, now goes to the State House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass Automatic Voter Registration

“Voting is our fundamental right as Americans, and we should be making it easier — not harder — to vote,” said Sen. Lesser

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Thursday to pass a bill reducing barriers to voting by making voter registration in the state as automated as possible.

“Voting is our fundamental right as Americans, and we should be making it easier — not harder — to vote,” said Sen. Lesser. “Unfortunately, we have seen an historic rollback of voting rights at the federal level and an all-out assault on the Voting Rights Act, which has protected the franchise for generations of African American and minority voters. Here in Massachusetts, we are stepping up to protect this basic right and, hopefully, show other states how they should be defending the right of all their citizens to vote.”

The bill, H. 4671, An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud, automatically registers eligible voters who are seeking services at a state agency that can register them, if they do not opt-out of registering. State agencies that can register people to vote include the Registry of Motor of Vehicles and MassHealth.

The bill has passed the State House of Representatives, and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

You can register to vote online at www.IWillVote.com or by filling out the Secretary of State’s office registration form here.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Dredging of Laurel Park Pond in Longmeadow

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $685,000 in bonds to the Town of Longmeadow for the dredging of Laurel Park Pond.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with town officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. Laurel Park is a beloved park in Longmeadow. I have fond memories of growing up fishing and hiking around Laurel Pond, and get to enjoy bringing my own family there now. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The pond has not been dredged since at least 1997. Dredging is an important process to remove sediment that has built up on the pond floor and improve clarity by removing harmful algae.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Chicopee River Canoe and Kayak Launch

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $250,000 in bonds to the City of Chicopee for the construction of a canoe and kayak launch off of Fuller Road on the Chicopee River.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser, and co-sponsored by Sens. James T. Welch and Donald F. Humason, Jr., after discussion with city officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. This project offers exciting opportunities for future recreation on and along the Chicopee River, and ensures that it will remain a safe and enjoyable space for our community. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The plan for the project includes floating docks and equipment that allows the physically disabled to launch their own boats, as well as parking and picnicking space.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Authorize $4.5 Million in Upgrades to Springfield’s Forest Park

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $4.5 million in bonds to the City of Springfield for upgrades at Forest Park.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with city officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments.

A portion of the funds will be used to support Camp STAR Angelina, a universally accessible camp for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, with the construction of a lodge for daytime camp activities. Other funding in the authorization will upgrade the park’s comfort shelter and horticultural training center.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. Forest Park is one of Springfield’s biggest assets, and Camp STAR Angelina is a model program that is a vital resource for our community. These improvements are worthy projects that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make them happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill that authorizes spending on specific projects regarding climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

The bill also includes support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Installation of Lighting and Playground at Greenleaf Park

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $240,000 in bonds to the City of Springfield for the installation of new lighting and playground facilities at Greenleaf Park.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with city officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. The Sixteen Acres neighborhood is long overdue for updated playground facilities, and these improvements, along with new lights, will keep it a safe and enjoyable place for our community. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Repairs to Bleachers at Ludlow’s Whitney Park

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $150,000 in bonds to Ludlow for the repair and replacement of bleachers at Whitney Park.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with town officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House, and to say, ‘We need the state’s help on this.’ Whitney Park is the centerpiece of Ludlow’s proud tradition of sports and recreation, and these improvements will keep it a safe and enjoyable gathering place for our community. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

Sen. Lesser had previously gotten funding for the bleachers repair into the fiscal 2017 budget, but the funds were cut by the Governor.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Repairs to Belchertown Public Schools’ Track and Tennis Courts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $175,000 in bonds to the Belchertown Public Schools for the resurfacing of their track and tennis courts.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with town officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House, and to say, ‘We need the state’s help on this.’ Belchertown’s track and tennis courts are a valuable public resource, open to members of the public in addition to students. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The six tennis courts have not been resurfaced since they were installed in 2001. Contractors recommend resurfacing every 5-8 years due to cracking.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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