Westfield Newsroom

Sen. Velis highlights two bills passed this past week

Hello Everyone,
I hope you all are doing well and staying safe. Many of our communities are still in the high-risk category for COVID-19 cases, so it is critical that we continue to curb the spread while vaccinations roll out. First responders across the state will begin to receive their first doses of the vaccine this coming Monday.
Wednesday marked the start of the new 192nd legislative session. Although the senate swearingin session was remote, it was a great experience to be sworn in while being at my district office in Westfield. I’m so honored to continue working on behalf of the Second Hampden and Hampshire district. The night before, the Senate held its last session of the 191st legislative session, which went until just before 5 a.m. Two of the major pieces passed were the Economic Development bill and the Transportation Bond bill.
The Economic Development bill will provide much needed relief to businesses that have suffered due to COVID-19. Among other things, the bill includes $20 million in grants to restaurants, $30 million for payroll protection, and over $100 million for local economic development projects. The bill also prioritizes workforce development initiatives and includes $15 million for vocational technical schools and $15 million to support career-oriented programs at community colleges. There are also a number of strong policy initiatives in the bill to protect
consumers, including establishing a Student Loan Ombudsman’s office within the Attorney General’s office to assist students with loan servicer issues. I was proud to vote for such a multifaceted bill that is much needed during these dire times.
The $16.5 billion dollar Transportation Bond bill passed by the legislature is an authorization of funds for transportation projects and maintenance all over the Commonwealth, including in our district. It was critical that the authorization was made before the end of session so that projects can continue during the spring and summer construction seasons. I am glad to report that the gas tax that many were contemplating was not included in the final transportation bill. As many of you know, I strongly opposed an increase to the gas tax during my time in the House as I believe it disproportionately affects our communities in Western Mass. I have continued to advocate against such a tax in the Senate and am glad that it was not included in this final piece of legislation.
As the new legislative session begins, I am feverously researching, drafting, and filing bills. Part of that work includes meeting with organizations and constituents in our communities and across our state. On Friday I met with Jeff Hayden, Vice-President of Business and Community Services at Holyoke Community College, to talk about ways we can develop our workforce and increase vocational training in our communities. Preparing our next generation with the workforce skills they need is a strong focus of my legislative agenda. Other focuses of my legislative research include substance use programs, education requirements, animal rights protections, and veterans affairs issues. As the bill filing process moves along, I encourage you to reach out to my office if you have ideas on potential legislation.
In this new legislative session, I will also be putting together quarterly newsletters from my office that can be sent right to your email inbox. If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, head to www.senatorjohnvelis.com/quarterly-newsletter/
As always if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at my email: [email protected] or by phone: (413) 572-3920 and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.
Best wishes for a happy new year,

John C. Velis

State Senator, 2nd Hampden & Hampshire District

To Top