Category: Press Release

Senator Lesser Receives “Advocate of the Year” Award from Greater Boston Food Bank

BOSTON — On Friday, Oct. 27, Senator Eric P. Lesser was honored by the Greater Boston Food Bank as one of its two “Public Advocates of the Year.”

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country.

Earlier this year, Senator Lesser was the lead Senate  sponsor on a budget amendment to increase funding to the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program, which buys produce from local farms, including many in Western Massachusetts, to stock the state’s food banks. Representative Peter Kocot of Northampton was the lead House sponsor.

“I am humbled to receive this award and grateful to my colleagues in the legislature who have supported this program year after year,” said Senator Lesser. “This funding supports local farms while also feeding families in need. Our communities in Western Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth are better off because of this emergency food assistance program, and because of the Greater Boston Food Bank’s commitment to it.”

“Senator Lesser took a leadership role in the Senate this past budget season to support an increase in the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program, critical funding that enables the four Massachusetts food banks to purchase a consistent supply of nutritious food, including fresh, locally grown produce,” said Catherine D’Amato, GBFB president and CEO.

The GBFB traditionally honors one Senator and one Representative as “Public Advocates of the Year.” Rep. Adrian Madaro of East Boston was recognized along with Senator Lesser.

The Public Advocate of the Year Awards were presented at GBFB’s Partner Appreciation Day event, held at its Boston facility, which recognizes both individuals and organizations who have made invaluable contributions to helping GBFB achieve its mission to end hunger here.

“This award is a great honor,” said Rep. Madaro. “Our work in government is only as strong as the partnerships that we create, and we could not ask for a better partner in the fight to end hunger and food insecurity than the Greater Boston Food Bank.”

GBFB provides the equivalent of more than 48 million healthy meals annually, distributed through its network of 530 member agencies across Eastern Massachusetts. A member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, GBFB is the main hub for the four food banks across the state.

###

 

Senator Lesser Tours Pope Francis High School Construction Site with New Head of School

SPRINGFIELD — On Monday, Dr. Paul Harrington, new Head of School at Pope Francis High School, hosted Senator Eric P. Lesser for a tour of the construction site of the new school building at 99 Wendover Road.

“The new Pope Francis High School taking shape in East Forest Park is an impressive sight. The vision behind it, for a modern, high-tech preparatory school, is even more impressive. I know many in our community are looking forward to welcoming back this fixture of Catholic education in Western Massachusetts,” said Senator Lesser.

“The construction of the future Pope Francis Preparatory School is advancing on schedule and on budget with an anticipated opening in August 2018,” said Dr. Harrington. “We were happy to host Sen. Lesser to share the excitement of our new facility as we move Catholic secondary education forward in the Diocese of Springfield.”

Pope Francis High School is a four-year, co-ed 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, the 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 www.popefrancishigh.org.

###

Senator Lesser Honors Ludlow, Granby Businesses at Manufacturing Award Ceremony

BOSTON — At a State House ceremony on Tuesday, Senator Eric P. Lesser joined state leaders in recognizing business owners across the Commonwealth, including Mel O’Leary, president and CEO of Meredith-Springfield Associates Incorporated.

O’Leary received an award on behalf of his company for excellence in manufacturing.

Meredith-Springfield is based in Ludlow and manufactures high quality plastic products.

“I am thrilled that our local businesses have received this recognition. The companies we recognized represent the best in manufacturing as innovators in their fields. Not only do they move technology forward, making our state more competitive, but they are anchors of their communities and local economies,” said Senator Lesser.

Senator Lesser is the Senate Chairman of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.

C & G Machine Tool Co., Inc., a maker of industrial machinery in Granby, also received an award.

###

Senate President, Millennial Legislators Unveil Report on State Senate’s Millennial Engagement Initiative

Report is result of statewide Millennial Engagement Initiative led by Sen. Eric Lesser

Recommendations include improved transit options, government transparency and financial literacy education

 

BOSTON — On Wednesday, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and the State Senate’s bipartisan group of millennial legislators unveiled the Senate’s report on its 2016 Millennial Engagement Initiative, sharing the priorities of millennial residents from across the Commonwealth.

Senator Eric P. Lesser led the Senate’s millennial outreach last year with a series of roundtable discussions with millennials in 11 cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Rosenberg, Lesser and Millennial Caucus co-chair Ryan C. Fattman heard directly from young people about the policies they would like to see state government pursue.

The senators’ main takeaway was that young people have a growing frustration with both private and public institutions, and that more direct engagement from elected representatives is necessary.

One major recommendation from the Millennial Engagement Initiative report is that legislators should promote civics and financial literacy education to better prepare young people to get results from complex institutions. This will help them address political challenges and better manage their finances.

The Initiative also found that young people are burdened with large amounts of debt — not only student loans, but credit card payments and housing costs as well. They also need more diverse transportation options, since  millennials are not buying cars as their parents’ generation did and rely more on public transit.

The senators’ report recommends a series of proposed bills, including Lesser’s Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect borrowers from servicers that steer them into costly repayment plans; a study of rapid transit systems introduced by Senator Patrick M. O’Connor; and several bills introduced to promote financial literacy education in schools.

The report formally establishes the state legislative Millennial Caucus to advance, monitor and evaluate the recommended policies in the report. And it creates a “Millennial Scorecard” to track the progress of these policies and show what Massachusetts legislators did to support the Millennial Agenda throughout the 2017-2018 session.

The full report can be found at www.SenatorLesser.com/mei.

“Senator Lesser and Senator Fattman, as a result of a robust process of direct engagement across the Commonwealth, have produced a report that highlights what millennials expect from their government.  It is my hope that we will incorporate the recommendations of their report into the Senate agenda for this session,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst).

“Young people around the Commonwealth made clear from our conversations that they need our support in demystifying the large, complex and sometimes out-of-touch public and private institutions that have left them out of the conversation about their future. The generation that grew up with technology and innovation is not satisfied with the status quo. It is our job to produce results on the issues that matter to them, from improving transportation access to reducing student loan burdens to preparing them for their financial futures,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow).

“There are close to 76 million millennials in America; we now make up the largest living generation in the country.  The perpetual idea that each generation should be better off than the previous one has dimmed in recent years, but through these policy initiatives it is our hope to harness innovation, creativity, and continue to give Americans the best foundation possible to be successful,” said Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Sutton).

Since Lesser, 31, and Fattman, 33, were elected as the youngest members of the State Senate in 2014, three more millennial lawmakers have joined them in the Senate: Joseph A. Boncore, Julian Cyr and Patrick M. O’Connor.

“As baby boomers retire, we have generational responsibility to lead in their place,” said Senator Joseph A. Boncore (D-Winthrop).  “We can’t expect anyone to listen if we’re using the same old voice. The MEI report represents our generation’s biggest concerns and the first steps in addressing them.”

“Millennials provide hope for a future Commonwealth — and society — that is guided by the consensus values of our generation: tolerance, innovation, fairness, and a belief in service. Yet Millennials face unique challenges that no prior generation has encountered: student debt, stagnant wages, and a grim housing market. It is incumbent upon Millennials — especially those of us who already have a seat at the table – to promote out of the box policy solutions and restore civility in the American experiment,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro).

“The future of a strong democracy relies on getting young people involved in state and local government. Millennials’ voices need to be heard on critical issues from student loan reform to housing initiatives so that they can help shape their own futures,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “The priorities and legislation outlined in this report represent some important steps that the Legislature can take to make sure that Massachusetts gives millennials the platform they need to succeed.”

###

Senator Lesser, Representative Wagner Tour Chicopee Manufacturers

CHICOPEE — On Friday, Senator Eric P. Lesser and Representative Joseph F. Wagner toured manufacturers in Chicopee to learn about business opportunities available to the local companies.

They stopped first at Cardinal Health Facility, a manufacturer of biomedical devices, and then visited MicroTek-Cables, a manufacturer of custom-made cables.

“Our region continues to have a competitive advantage in high-tech manufacturing, and it’s always good to see up close and personal the companies and people that make that happen. These visits allow me to hear directly from workers and company owners what kinds of policies help them do their jobs and keep those jobs here in Western Massachusetts,” said Senator Lesser.

“I thank Cardinal Health and MicroTek-Cables for taking the time to host insightful tours. These visits provide unique opportunities to see cutting-edge technologies and our talented workforce in action. The Pioneer Valley has a strong tradition in manufacturing and it continues today through advanced manufacturing. Providing the industry with the rights tools through workforce training and targeted resources remains a high priority for me in the Massachusetts Legislature,” said Representative Wagner.

The CRRC railcar plant in East Springfield has shown interest in contracting MicroTek-Cables, which employs about 130 workers including many with intellectual disabilities, a sign of the opportunities available to local companies when a larger manufacturer moves into the area.

Senator Lesser and Representative Wagner are the Senate and House Chairmen of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. In September, they brought a committee hearing to Springfield Technical Community College so local officials could have input on bills affecting the state’s economy.

Representative Joseph Wagner (left) and Senator Eric Lesser (right) speak with Patricia B. Morrison, Executive Vice President, Customer Support Services, and Chief Information Officer at Cardinal Health Facility in Chicopee.

###

Senator Lesser, Rep. Wagner Laud Workforce Training Grants Awarded to Companies in Chicopee, Ludlow

CHICOPEE — On Monday, Senator Eric P. Lesser and Representative Joseph F. Wagner welcomed the announcement that the state’s Workforce Training Fund had awarded grants to companies in Chicopee and Ludlow.

“I am thrilled that our local businesses have received these grants to train workers. Not only do they make these companies more competitive, but they give workers needed skills that make them more attractive job applicants in the future. These grants will continue to strengthen our region’s established advantage in high-tech manufacturing,” said Senator Lesser.

“The Workforce Training Fund serves as a great mechanism in assisting employers in their efforts to support and grow their businesses through the allocation of dedicated resources for training programs. Workforce development spurs growth in our workers, our businesses and our economy. I am delighted to see our local businesses benefit from the fund,” said Representative Wagner.

Mechanical Drive Components, Inc. in Chicopee was awarded $33,630 to train nine workers. One additional job is expected to be added by 2019.

In Ludlow, two companies received grants.

Commercial Machine, Inc. was awarded $37,100 to train 10 workers; one additional job is expected to be added by 2019. Luso Federal Credit Union was awarded $21,700 to train 32 workers, with four new jobs expected to be added by 2019.

According to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, a total of $11.9 million in workforce training grants were awarded to 121 Massachusetts companies across the state.

Grants from the program award up to $250,000 to give companies an opportunity to pay for employee training over a two-year period. The awards are projected to create 1,000 new jobs statewide and will go towards training approximately 7,000 workers.

Senator Lesser and Representative Wagner are the Senate and House Chairmen of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. In September, they brought a committee hearing to Springfield Technical Community College so local officials could have input on bills affecting the state’s economy.

###

Senator Lesser to Provide Bus to Boston for Constituents Who Want to Testify on East-West Rail Study

Bill to study east-west rail to have hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 24

SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, Oct. 24 State Senator Eric P. Lesser will be busing fellow legislators and constituents to the State House to testify on why proposed Springfield-to-Boston rail service matters to them and how it could impact their lives.

The Joint Committee on Transportation will hold a hearing on Sen. Lesser’s bill proposing a feasibility study of high-speed east-west rail on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Hearing Room A-1.

There is limited space on Sen. Lesser’s bus, so those wishing to testify should RSVP at www.SenatorLesser.com/bus. The bus will depart Springfield at 7:30 a.m. to arrive in time for the hearing, and the committee will receive testimony on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those planning to testify should bring a written copy of their testimony so that they can submit it in writing in case the queue to testify is too long. The bus will depart the State House to return to Springfield at 1 p.m. Bottled water and snacks will be provided on the bus.

Those who cannot make the trip to Boston are still encouraged to show their support and see the bus off from the Basketball Hall of Fame parking lot on Tuesday morning.

WHO:  Senator Eric P. Lesser, constituents and fellow legislators (to be announced at future date)

WHAT: Senator Eric P. Lesser will take a bus to the State House with about 40 constituents to testify in favor of his proposed study of east-west rail service.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 24

Media availability: 7 a.m.

Bus departs Springfield: 7:30 a.m.

Transportation Committee Hearing and Testimony: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Bus returns to Springfield: 3 p.m.

WHERE: The bus will meet in the parking lot of the Basketball Hall of Fame, 1000 Hall of Fame Ave, Springfield, MA 01105

A media availability will be held beside the bus, before it departs, at 7 a.m. For questions, please contact Ryan Migeed, Communications Director to Senator Eric P. Lesser, at 617-722-1291.

For questions about writing testimony, please contact Samantha Kelly, Legislative Director to Senator Eric P. Lesser, at 617-722-1291.

###

Senator Lesser Lauds Workforce Training Grants Awarded to Companies in Springfield, East Longmeadow

SPRINGFIELD — On Monday, Senator Eric P. Lesser welcomed the announcement that the state’s Workforce Training Fund had awarded grants to companies in Springfield and East Longmeadow.

“I am thrilled that our local businesses have received these grants to train workers. Not only do they make these companies more competitive, but they give workers needed skills that make them more attractive job applicants in the future. These grants will continue to strengthen our region’s established advantage in high-tech manufacturing,” said Sen. Lesser.

In Springfield, Northstar Pulp and Paper, which Sen. Lesser visited earlier this year, was awarded $100,749 to train 65 workers. Eight additional jobs are expected to be added by 2019.

In East Longmeadow, Maybury Material Handling was awarded $134,610 to train 80 workers, with six additional jobs expected to be added by 2019.

According to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, a total of $11.9 million in workforce training grants were awarded to 121 Massachusetts companies across the state.

Grants from the program award up to $250,000 to give companies an opportunity to pay for employee training over a two-year period. The awards are projected to create 1,000 new jobs statewide and will go towards training approximately 7,000 workers.

###

Senator Lesser Unveils New Website Sharing Constituent Stories on Why Rail Matters

Invites residents to share their transportation stories

Bill to study east-west rail to have hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 24

 

SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, State Senator Eric P. Lesser unveiled a new page on his website sharing constituents’ stories — in their own words — describing why east-west rail is important to them.

In one story, Marcy, an occupational therapist in Longmeadow, explains that many of her patients have to travel to Boston for specialized treatments and frequently miss appointments because of traffic on the Mass Pike.

In another, Alexandra from Montgomery explains that her student debt bills prevent her from moving to greater Boston, where housing is expensive, even though she works in the city. Her commute to work is two hours or more every day.

The website, “Rail Matters,” can be found at www.SenatorLesser.com/RailMatters. Visitors are invited to share the stories they read there — and even submit their own stories about why rail service between Boston and Springfield matters to them.

“It’s time to refocus the conversation about Springfield-Boston rail where it belongs: you and your family,” said Senator Lesser.

“Other elected officials in the state might think differently on this issue if they hear the stories I hear every day in my district: how the lack of fast, reliable rail service is preventing young people from seizing opportunities, preventing family members from visiting each other, even preventing cancer patients from getting to their appointments on time,” he added.

Legislators on the Transportation Committee are holding a hearing on Sen. Lesser’s bill proposing a study of east-west rail from Boston to Springfield on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Citizens are welcome to attend the public hearing, in Hearing Room A-1 at the State House, and present their own testimony.

Sen. Lesser has advocated for a study since he took office, and this is the third time he has introduced this proposal.

In May, Sen. Lesser reintroduced his proposal to require the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to move forward with a feasibility study of Springfield-to-Boston high-speed rail as a budget amendment. However, it was stripped from the compromise budget in closed-door negotiations between the House and Senate.

The same amendment passed both the House and Senate last year with broad bipartisan support. But Gov. Baker vetoed the proposal after Peter Pan bus company owner Peter Picknelly sent an email to Baker personally lobbying against it.

###

Senator Lesser Cheers Long-Awaited Redevelopment of Former Belchertown State School Site

Scale and potential of project makes it one of the most “transformative and exciting developments happening in all of Western Massachusetts” says Lesser

BELCHERTOWN — Senator Eric P. Lesser welcomed the announcement by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Thursday that the state is investing $10 million to redevelop the former Belchertown State School site.

The project is a partnership between the town of Belchertown and MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development agency.

“This project represents a giant step forward for Belchertown, as the state works with local officials to redevelop the vacant Belchertown State School site. This new construction will provide local job opportunities, expand residential housing options, and ultimately find a purpose for 25 acres of land that can be put to good use,” Sen. Lesser said.

The grant will construct a 2,000-foot road and associated utilities, providing access to 25 acres of land and improving the marketability of 12 more acres.

The MassWorks infrastructure program will leverage $10 million in state capital authorization and enable construction of up to 268 new residential units, in addition to providing sewer service for two commercial parcels, including the Belchertown Day School.

“The scale and potential for the Belchertown State School property makes this project among the most transformative and exciting developments happening in all of Western Massachusetts,” Sen. Lesser said.

The Belchertown State School was established in 1922 as an institution for those with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities, but horrific conditions there helped spur an overhaul of mental healthcare facilities across the state. The Belchertown State School was closed in 1992 and the campus has remained vacant ever since.

The campus includes dozens of buildings, some of which cannot be repaired and others which have solid foundations for future repurposing.

###