We had a landmark week in the State Senate. On Thursday the Senate voted unanimously to pass the final Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Conference Committee Bill. This vote was the final step in the legislative process before the Governor signs the bill.
The tragedy that struck the Home was fresh when I was elected as state Senator, not two months before the special election. At that point, all I could do was listen and console. I met with families and staff. I heard their stories. I came as close as I could to understanding their pain. Since then, I have worked diligently to make sure the resources and staff for the Home were strengthened to prevent another outbreak. When the bond bill to rebuild the Home was put forth, I knew that this legislation had to pass to ensure our future generations of Veterans would be taken care of.
I want to thank my dutiful staff, my colleagues in the Legislature, and all the families who were brave enough to share their stories. Without the hard work of so many Veterans and incredible advocates, the new Soldiers’ Home would still be nothing more than a hope. There is still much work to be done in terms of both the physical construction of the Home and in my continued advocacy for our Veterans: tasks that I am very much looking forward to.
This week the Legislature’s Aviation Caucus also met for the first time this session and I was honored to be elected as co-chair of the caucus. This group of Senators and Representatives convenes on legislation relating to all things aviation in the Commonwealth, with a focus on making sure that air traffic remains an economic driver while co-existing with the communities who are home to airports.
On Wednesday I toured the Ferry Street project in Easthampton. As with many of the towns and cities in the region, Easthampton is home to a number of rundown mill and factory buildings. The Ferry Street Project’s purpose is to rehabilitate these buildings into commercial and residential space. This project will preserve our history while expanding our community. Thank you to Mayor Nicole LaChappelle and Rep. Carey for coming along as well.
A major reform of the unemployment solvency rate passed the House and Senate this week. Following unprecedented and unwarned spike in the assessment formula, many small businesses faced huge rate increases. This legislation fixes the problem and will ensure that small businesses do not have to deal with surprisingly large rates. I anticipate that the Governor will sign the bill soon.
I want to remind everyone that the general population is now eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine. Many vaccination sites, including the Eastfield Mall and CVS Pharmacy locations, are now offering walk-ins. Head to vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find locations and appointments near you.
Recently I’ve started sending out newsletters from my office. You can sign up at senatorjohnvelis.com/newsletter/ to receive the newsletter right in your email inbox. 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.
Sincerely, John Velis