Category: Press Release

Senator Eric Lesser Shares Advice on College Readiness to Students at Granby Junior-Senior High School

Sen. Eric P. Lesser addressed students at Granby High School’s College Success Campaign Kickoff Event on Friday, Sept. 11. Senator Lesser spoke of the value of taking AP classes, shared tips on preparing for college, and explained how college graduation helps young adults build better lives for themselves and their communities.

Senator Eric Lesser Greets Seniors At Annual Granby Summer Picnic

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Senator Eric Lesser Announces More Than $19.25 Million in Unclaimed Financial Property for Western Mass Residents

Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow) announced that more than $19.25 million in financial property is unclaimed and available for residents in the First Hampden and Hampshire District.

“Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may actually owe them money,” Senator Lesser said. “I encourage residents to check with the Treasury Department and see if they may have unclaimed property in their name.”

Unclaimed property includes forgotten savings and checking accounts, un-cashed checks, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, dividends and the contents of unattended safe deposit boxes. Most accounts are considered abandoned and are turned over to the state after three years of inactivity.

Last year Treasury returned over $112 million in property to its rightful owners, making Massachusetts the state to return the most money on a per-capita basis.

The Treasury releases an updated list of unclaimed property assets every six months as the new accounts are turned over to the Commonwealth. There is no time limit for a person to claim this property and, in many cases, claimants will receive interest.

Residents can check the comprehensive list for all amounts at www.findmassmoney.com or can call the Treasury’s live call center at 888-344-MASS (6277).

Senator Lesser Joins Attorney General Healey to Announce Trust Fund for Lifesaving Anti-Overdose Drug

Senator Eric P. Lesser joined Attorney General Maura Healey, Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Senator John Keenan, first responders, and families touched by addiction from across Massachusetts to announce the creation of a new trust fund for the bulk purchase of Narcan, a lifesaving anti-overdose medication.

The new trust fund is possible in part because of legislation filed by Senator Lesser in January, which was incorporated into the FY2016 budget this July. The legislature established this fund and set aside $100,000 for it, and this week, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Narcan, has agreed to pay $325,000 – enough for roughly 10,000 doses of this life-saving medicine.

“The heroin epidemic is wreaking havoc in our state, and we need every tool available to prevent further deaths,” Senator Lesser said. “The Narcan trust fund will allow more of our police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders to administer this life-saving drug, saving lives in the process.”

“This agreement is about saving lives and about taking action to help families fight the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Attorney General Healey said. “This funding will help put Narcan into the hands of all first responders. We thank Senator Lesser for his continued advocacy and support for making Narcan more widely available to police and firefighters statewide.”

The Attorney General’s office worked with Amphastar to secure the $325,000 announced today. Now with close to half a million dollars, the trust fund will get to work making Narcan cheaper and more accessible for the first responders who use this drug every day.

The drug has shown consistently high overdose reversal success rates. For example, Quincy has seen a 95% success rate since the police department became the first in the country to equip every officer with Narcan in 2010.

State FY16 Budget Increases Aid to Hampden-Wilbraham School District with Sen. Lesser’s Support

Senator Eric P. Lesser announced a $2.5 million increase in funding for regional school transportation in the FY16 state budget, signed into law recently by Governor Baker. This funding increase will boost the reimbursement rate for regional school districts to 73 percent, including an additional $250,000 for Hampden-Wilbraham. In 2011, the reimbursement rate was 58 percent.

“School districts should not need to worry about how much they’ll be reimbursed by the state for school busing costs,” Lesser said. “This measure will provide much-needed relief, allowing districts to focus their resources inside the classroom, and I hope it will be a strong starting point for increases in future budgets.”

In 2014, the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District faced a significant budget shortfall when state aid for school transportation was abruptly cut.

This funding reverses those cuts and will mean significant relief for the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District, granting the ability to restore at least four full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions within the district’s fiscal year 2016 budget.

“As a regional school district, the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District is very appreciative of our legislative delegation’s efforts and advocacy to increase Regional Transportation funding,” said Hampden-Wilbraham School Superintendent Martin O’Shea.

“The Regional Transportation funding is critically important to larger rural and suburban school districts like the HWRSD. This increase will provide the HWRSD with the opportunity to restore needed programs and services to the children of the District.”

“This increase is critically important to our school district. Regional School Transportation funding has been a big concern, and this increase will go a long way to help the district.  I’m glad to have supported this increase especially in this tight budget,” said Representative Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield).

The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District faces rising costs for busing students, crowding out resources previously dedicated to student learning. Senator Lesser has made relief for local school districts a top priority of his work in the State Senate.

Sen. Lesser Secures Funding for Hampden Memorial Park Playground in State Budget

Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow) announced that the final version of the state budget included $16,000 for renovations to an existing playground in Hampden’s Memorial Park. The funding, which helps fill a funding gap needed to complete improvements to the playground, originated from an amendment to the Senate budget filed by Senator Lesser.

“As the father of a young daughter, I know how important it is have a place to spend time with your children,” Lesser said. “These renovations will provide a much-needed gathering space for the families of Hampden and the surrounding community.”

“Being a parent myself as well as having three nephews in the town of Hampden, I know how important it is to have safe, fun places for our children,” said Representative Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow). “I’m very happy for the children, their families and friends who will be able to utilize this playground.”

“We are extremely appreciative of the work of Senator Lesser in bringing our tax dollars back to our community and our children,” said Hampden Selectman John Flynn. “Even after this appropriation was vetoed by the Governor’s office, Eric fought to bring it back into the final budget.”  

The funding secured by the amendment will help ensure the playground is ADA-compliant and wheelchair accessible, make safety upgrades to the ground surface and improve water drainage.

Innovative Communities Bill Co-sponsored by Sen. Eric Lesser Passes Massachusetts Senate

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted for legislation to create a new Innovative Communities program to help municipalities partner with Massachusetts startup companies to help expand and improve access to public services. The bill passed in the Massachusetts Senate and will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

“This bill makes it easier for local governments to make their services more accessible to their communities, and for tech companies to build a stronger public sector customer base,” Sen. Lesser said. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) filed the legislation in collaboration with many stakeholders in the startup community.

“We have an incredibly strong innovation economy here in Massachusetts. It’s time for our government to be innovative too,” said Sen. Spilka. “This first-of-its-kind program is the product of a collaborative, interactive process, and it will foster stronger connections and opportunities for startups and local governments.”

Senate Bill 1982, An Act relative to innovative communities, establishes the Innovative Communities Office within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to connect and educate Massachusetts startups and municipalities. Startups will have the opportunity to sell their technology to cities and towns that choose to be designated as “Innovative Communities.”

Cities or towns that choose to participate in the program must opt-in through a local vote, make non-confidential municipal data available to the public, attend at least one Innovative Communities event or exposition and beta test at least one technology through the program each year.

The bill also includes education to help startups understand how they can sell to government and help municipalities understand opportunities to purchase from startups. The program will hold marketing events and expositions for startups to showcase their technology to municipalities and host statewide innovation competitions to identify market-ready technologies for the needs of municipalities. It will also vet the commercial readiness of technologies in the program and provide technical assistance to municipalities purchasing these technologies.

The bill also creates an Innovative Communities Advisory Board to keep startups and government connected and a Special Commission to study the way government purchases technology.

Sens. Lesser and Welch Secure $100,000 In State FY16 Budget for Spirit of Springfield

The House and the Senate have included an amendment sponsored by Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow) and co-sponsored by Senator James T. Welch (D-West Springfield) in the state FY16 budget that will provide $100,000 for the Spirit of Springfield.

“From the Parade of Big Balloons to Bright Nights, from the 4th of July fireworks to the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast, events put on by the Spirit of Springfield fill our region with pride and attract tens of thousands of visitors to our region every year,” Lesser said. “These funds will allow the Spirit of Springfield to further their mission of promoting community pride and allow more people to learn about all the great events happening in Springfield.”

“The Spirit of Springfield does wonderful work showcasing all Springfield has to offer, both to residents and to visitors,” said Senator James T. Welch (D-Springfield). I’m happy that the funding for this important organization is included in the FY16 budget, and I look forward to a great year of exciting events in the city.”

“The Spirit of Springfield is honored to have the support of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the legislators who passed the amendment that will allow us to continue to make lasting memories for families, friends and visitors,” said Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt.

The Spirit of Springfield coordinates several large-scale annual community events each year in the Pioneer Valley that enhance quality of life by fostering a sense of community, civic pride and opportunities for celebration.

Funding for the program awaits now final approval from Governor Baker.

Sen. Lesser Votes in Favor of Senate Resolution Encouraging Greater Female Representation in Corporate Leadership

The state Senate unanimously voted this week in favor of a resolution encouraging fair and diverse gender representation on boards of companies in the Commonwealth. The legislation encouraging gender equity in corporate leadership was co-sponsored by Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow).

“Women bring a unique and much-needed perspective to corporate decisions, whether in hiring, marketing or growth strategies,” Lesser said. “Greater gender diversity in corporate leadership results in more competitive and ultimately more successful companies.”

The resolution, sponsored by Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), encourages privately held and publicly traded companies in Massachusetts to have a minimum of three women directors on boards of nine or more and a minimum of two women directors on boards with fewer than nine directors by December 31, 2018.

It also asks companies to measure their progress toward a goal of equal representation of men and women in leadership positions on an annual basis.

Just 16 percent of corporate board seats nationally and less than 15 percent in Massachusetts are held by women. One-quarter of the largest companies in Massachusetts do not include any women on their boards of directors, according to data from The Boston Club, an organization of women executives and professionals in the Northeast region.

The resolution will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

Sen. Lesser signs letter supporting gender pay equity bill

Senator Lesser has signed a letter supporting “An act to establish pay equity,” introduced as S.983 and H.1733, to ensure that women are paid the same as men for comparable work.

Specifically, the bill:

  • prohibits companies from maintaining wage confidentiality policies or disciplining employees for discussing their salaries
  • lengthen the time an employee has to bring a pay discrimination suit from one to three years and allow for the awarding of attorneys’ fees
  • clarify that analysis of “comparable” work must be based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions
  • allow an employer to defend itself against gender discrimination claims if the company conducts a self-evaluation of workplace job classifications and wage rates.
  • require companies to post a minimum salary in job ads and pay any hire at least that amount and would make it illegal for an employer to use salary history in hiring.

An electronic version of the letter is available at the below link:

Sen. Lesser Equal Pay Letter