August – December 2019
I am hoping this legislative update finds you and your family well, and I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. I would like to take a few minutes to update you all on the efforts I have made as your State Representative these past few months.
As a member of the education committee, I gave my maiden speech in the House on October 24th in support of H.4137, the Student Opportunity Act. This legislation invests an unprecedented $1.5 billion in Massachusetts K-12 public education and significantly assists school districts with special education transportation costs, along with better supporting our ELL populations and districts with high percentages of low-income students.
Woburn and Reading are among the many communities in the Commonwealth that will greatly benefit from the Student Opportunity Act. As I said in my speech:
“I’m a Woburn Public Schools kid and proud of it. I’m also proud to live in a state that evaluates how well we are educating our kids and looks to find areas where we can do better. We recognize that achievement gaps exist, across a variety of demographics…The resources in this bill will provide local officials and districts more tools to close budget gaps, invest in a community’s priority areas, and better support the social and emotional needs of students.”
Just over one month later, the bill was passed unanimously by both branches of the legislature and signed into law by Governor Baker.
In the past few months, I have put forth legislation that will directly impact our community.
I want to thank Director of Veteran’s Services Larry Guiseppe, Mayor Galvin, and the Woburn City Council, who all were essential in helping me introduce H.4206, a bill that will designate the to be constructed bridge on New Boston Street crossing over the MBTA railroad tracks as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. This aims to honor and memorialize our great city’s Vietnam veterans, with the designation reading: “The Commonwealth recognizes its Vietnam veterans and gratefully dedicates this bridge in their honor, as a testament to their service to their country.”
Additionally, in support of the development and expansion of the Woburn Mall site, I filed H.4220, an act that allows the City of Woburn to grant additional liquor licenses and aid in the revitalization in this part of our city with new restaurants and vibrant uses.
Finally, Representative Jones (R-North Reading), Senator Lewis (D-Winchester), and I were pleased to file H.4243. This bill will renew existing legislation, reestablishing the senior citizen property tax exemption program in Reading to help us care for the elderly population in our community.
I have been proud to vote in favor of several bills this fall. To name a few:
In September, I voted in favor of H.4076 to create a women’s rights history trail, which will identify and celebrate sites across the state related to the ongoing struggle to achieve gender equality. I also voted in favor of H.4087, which concerns transparency in campaign finance and accuracy in reporting. This legislation will require state level candidates to file reports more frequently than they are currently required, and would make Massachusetts the first in the nation to have independent, third-party-verified disclosure for all state-level candidates.
In October, the House passed a supplemental budget for the 2019 fiscal year. This budget improves the Commonwealth’s long-range financial position by placing $400 million in our reserve account and recommits us to investing in education, transportation, and the environment. I am also pleased to support additional critical resources for mental and behavioral health as well as our Clean Water Trust Fund. This matter currently sits in conference committee.
Just before Veterans Day in November, I joined my colleagues in the House in unanimously voting in favor of two pieces of legislation honoring those who have served this nation:
- H.4177, which will provide training to public higher education counselors so they are better equipped to recognize the symptoms of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to familiarize them with available resources for treatment for veterans attending state colleges and universities; and
- H.4179, which creates a 15-member commission of legislators, representatives of veteran organizations, and others to design a memorial in honor of Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
The month of November also brought some other key pieces of legislation that I supported to the Governor’s desk, including:
- H.4203, a bill that bans the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving, though using hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, car mounts, and voice-to-text functions will still be allowed. This legislation has my enthusiastic support, as itwill make our roadways safer for everyone. Ensuring drivers put down their phones and concentrate on the road is a common sense step that will better protect both motorists, and the general public, from preventative accidents. This bill was signed by the Governor and will take effect on March 31st, 2020;
- H.4210, which will expand access to behavioral health services for children and connect families with mental health professionals. This bill was also signed by Governor Baker on November 26th; and
- H.4196, the nation’s first statewide act to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including vaping products and menthol cigarettes. We know all too well that flavored tobacco products have been targeted at our children, and that the health risks of vaping are real and immediate. We have all witnessed the catastrophic health impacts tobacco use has on people lives along with the substantial medical care costs incurred. This law is yet another common sense step to protect kids and encourage folks to live healthier lives. This life-saving legislation also levies a 75% excise tax on vaping products. Having been signed by the Governor, this law will take effect on June 1st, 2020.
This fall, I partnered with the MBTA in sponsoring two “Senior CharlieCard” registration events in the district as part of an ongoing effort to deliver increased public transportation options and to support seniors who live independently in the community. On September 13th, the Woburn Senior Center hosted its annual Fall Festival, where I sponsored a CharlieCard table and registered 77 seniors for a reduced-fare pass for use on MBTA bus, rail, and subway systems. At a similar event on November 8th, 110 more seniors from Reading and surrounding areas made their way to the Pleasant Street Center to sign up for a discounted CharlieCard as well.
It was my honor to speak at the Veteran’s Day ceremony on the Woburn Common. In my speech, I expressed my immense gratitude to the patriots who have risked their lives for this country.
In November, I hosted a fifth-grade class from the Shamrock Elementary School at the State House. During their visit, we toured the building, learned some history, and had a great time. I enjoyed my time getting to meet the kids and spending a fun day with them!
Later in the month, Representative Ciccolo (D-Lexington), Senator Friedman (D-Arlington), and I hosted an ice cream social at the Woburn Senior Center. We welcome every opportunity to chat with and listen to folks in our communities, so we appreciate all those who came out to enjoy a sundae with the Woburn State House delegation.
In collaboration with the Reading Council on Aging, the members of the Reading State House delegation hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner. It was a great privilege to join with Senator Lewis and Representative Jones in honoring our community’s seniors and celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. We were fortunate to have the charitable community leaders, businesses, and individuals to make it all possible.
Throughout October and November, I spent some time visiting some of the largest employers in the area – Raytheon, Lytron, and Skyworks – to learn more about the important work they do and their impact on our communities.
In December I visited small businesses in downtown Reading. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with the owners and staff of establishments including Whitelam Books, Pamplemousse, Professor’s Market, Simms Jeweler’s, and Reading Quick Stop, along with getting some much-needed holiday shopping done!
I wish you all a Happy New Year and I look forward to updating you throughout 2020 on the efforts I am making on your behalf on Beacon Hill. My office continues to hold office hours on a monthly basis to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to reach out to my office or legislative aide at any time via email at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or call the office at (617) 722-2090. To stay up to date on everything I am doing up at the State House and out in the district follow me on Facebook @Rich.M.Haggerty and on Twitter @richhaggerty.